For the Siege Of Too Many Frames, I was there. I crawled through the webrings of new pages long neglected, of text made unreadable by too busy backgrounds. Lost in a Roman wilderness of Geocities fansites. When FF.net turned itself into Bring Back The Porn, I walked with the masses to Livejournal, watched MySpace flame and burn to ashes.
BBSes & whether they had Usenet feeds, 300 vs 1200 vs 2400 bps modems, tape drives, computers that ran on floppies alone, downloading one tiny file for 24 hours, having to know BASIC to work your computer, holy crap it’s weird that any computer at all can seem old-fashioned.
Female figurine from the Hohle Fels cave near Stuttgart, about 35,000 years old. Interpreted as a pornographic pin-up.
“The Earliest Pornography” says Science Now, describing the 35,000 year old ivory figurine that’s been dug up in a cave near Stuttgart. The tiny statuette is of a female with exaggerated breasts and vulva. According to Paul Mellars, one of the archaeologist twits who commented on the find for Nature, this makes the figurine “pornographic.” Nature is even titling its article, “Prehistoric Pin Up.” It’s the Venus of Willendorf double standard all over again. Ancient figures of naked pregnant women are interpreted by smirking male archaeologists as pornography, while equally sexualized images of men are assumed to depict gods or shamans. Or even hunters or warriors. Funny, huh?
Consider: phallic images from the Paleolithic are at least 28,000 years old. Neolithic cultures all over the world seemed to have a thing for sculptures with enormous erect phalluses. Ancient civilizations were awash in images of male genitalia, from the Indian lingam to the Egyptian benben to the Greek herm. The Romans even painted phalluses on their doors and wore phallic charms around their necks.
Ithyphallic figure from Lascaux, about 17,000 years old. Interpreted as a shaman.
But nobody ever interprets this ancient phallic imagery as pornography. Instead, it’s understood to indicate reverence for male sexual potency. No one, for example, has ever suggested that the Lascaux cave dude was a pin-up; he’s assumed to be a shaman. The ithyphallic figurines from the Neolithic — and there are many — are interpreted as gods. And everyone knows that the phalluses of ancient India and Egypt and Greece and Rome represented awesome divine powers of fertility and protection. Yet an ancient figurine of a nude woman — a life-giving woman, with her vulva ready to bring forth a new human being, and her milk-filled breasts ready to nourish that being — is interpreted as pornography. Just something for a man to whack off to. It’s not as if there’s no other context in which to interpret the figure. After all, the European Paleolithic is chock full of pregnant-looking female statuettes that are quite similar to this one. By the time we get to the Neolithic, the naked pregnant female is enthroned with lions at her feet, and it’s clear that people are worshipping some kind of female god.
Yet in the Science Now article, the archaeologist who found the figurine is talking about pornographic pin-ups: “I showed it to a male colleague, and his response was, ‘Nothing’s changed in 40,000 years.’” That sentence needs to be bronzed and hung up on a plaque somewhere, because you couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of the classic fallacy of reading the present into the past. The archaeologist assumes the artist who created the figurine was male; why? He assumes the motive was lust; why? Because that’s all he knows. To his mind, the image of a naked woman with big breasts and exposed vulva can only mean one thing: porn! Porn made by men, for men! And so he assumes, without questioning his assumptions, that the image must have meant the same thing 35,000 years ago. No other mental categories for “naked woman” are available to him. His mind is a closed box. This has been the central flaw of anthropology for as long there’s been anthropology. And even before: the English invaders of North America thought the Iroquois chiefs had concubines who accompanied them everywhere, because they had no other mental categories to account for well-dressed, important-looking women sitting in a council house. It’s the same fallacy that bedevils archaeologists who dig up male skeletons with fancy beads and conclude that the society was male dominant (because powerful people wear jewelry!), and at another site dig up female skeletons with fancy beads and conclude that this society, too, was male dominant (because women have to dress up as sex objects and trophy wives!). Male dominance is all they can imagine. And so no matter what they dig up, they interpret it to fit their mental model. It’s the fallacy that also drives evolutionary psychology, the central premise of which is that human beings in the African Pleistocene had exactly the same values, beliefs, prejudices, power struggles, goals, and needs as the middle-class white professors and students in a graduate psychology lab in modern-day Santa Barbara, California. And that these same factors are universal and unchanged and true for all time.
Hohle Fels phallus, about 28,000 years old. Interpreted as a symbolic object and …flint knapper. Yes.
That’s not science; it’s circular, self-serving propaganda. This little figurine from Hohle Fels, for example, is going to be used as “proof” that pornography is ancient and natural. I guarantee it. Having been interpreted by pornsick male archaeologists as pornography because that’s all they know, the statuette will now be trotted out by every every psycho and male supremacist on the planet as “proof” that pornography is eternal, that male dominance is how it’s supposed to be, and that feminists are crazy so shut the fuck up. Look for it in Steven Pinker’s next book. ***
P.S. My own completely speculative guess on the figurine is that it might be connected to childbirth rituals. Notice the engraved marks and slashes; that’s a motif that continues for thousands of years on these little female figurines. No one knows what they mean, but they meant something. They’re not just random cut marks. Someone put a great deal of work into this sculpture. Given that childbirth was incredibly risky for Paleolithic women, they must have prayed their hearts out for help and protection in that time. I can imagine an elder female shaman or artist carving this potent little figure, and propping it up somewhere as a focus for those prayers.
On the other hand, it is possible that it has nothing to do with childbearing or sexual behavior at all. The breasts and vulva may simply indicate who the figure is: the female god. Think of how Christ is always depicted with a beard, which is a male sexual characteristic, even though Christ isn’t about male sexuality. The beard is just a marker. Or, given the figurine’s exaggerated breasts, it may have something to do with sustenance: milk, food, nourishment.
The notion that some dude carved this thing to whack off to — when he was surrounded by women who probably weren’t wearing much in the way of clothes anyway — is laughable.
#reclusiveleftist #women’s history #porn #white men are stupid
There was a post doing the rounds on tumblr a while back that I wish I could find, but most of it seemed to be taken from this study by LeRoy McDermott, Comparing Modern Bodies with Prehistoric Artifacts.
When looked at from above, as a woman observes herself, the breasts of PKG-style figurines assume the natural proportions of the average modern woman of childbearing age. For example, the dimensions of the breasts of the off-illustrated Venus of Willendorf are comparable to those of a 26-year-old mother-to-be with a 34C bust (see fig. 5). When foreshortened from above, even the apparent hypertrophic dimensions of the Venus of Lespugue and the best-preserved figurine from Dolní Vestonice enter into a reasonably normal, albeit buxom, range.
McDermott goes on to theorise that the reason most of these hyper-female statues are missing a head and hands is that the head, obviously, can’t be viewed by the sculptor without access to a reflection of some kind. As the hands are in a constant state of motion making the figurine, it would also be difficult to have a fixed reference to work from.
The whole thing reminds me of that oft-quoted Sandi Toksvig article:
When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. “This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar” she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. “My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.”
It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions? How often had I sped past them as I learned of male achievement and men’s place in the history books?
Working (loosely) in an archeological field for this past year has made me realise how much is taken for granted about ancient culture and to what degree we patch up the remnants of the past with modern values and notions of gender and sexuality. On a daily basis I’m asked – when in character – who my husband is, whether I’m a cook, why I’m holding a spear and carry a dagger and slingshot as part of my kit. These notions of a woman’s place are so ingrained that the children on school trips to the hill fort frequently can’t believe it when I tell them our Chieftain is a woman. Even if the only Iron Age Briton they can name is Boudica, they have a hard time getting their head around it.
I know I’ve reblogged this before, but I just can’t help myself. It’s way too cool.
Who wants to hear about some linguistic fuckery I discovered while trying to be clever
Okay so I was reading a linguistics post that mentioned -thal being
German for ‘valley’ and thus ending up on a lot of their place names,
and I’m thinking ‘the first Neandertal was found in Neandert(h)al,
right? I bet that means ‘frost valley’ or ‘forest valley’ or some shit. I
spy a chance to make fun of our dead cousins!’
So I looked it up and, boringly, it turns out Neandertal was named after its discoverer, Joachim Neander. Ah well.
Except ‘Neander’ was a German translation of his actual surname, ‘Neumann’. Neander means New Man.
By complete coincidence the Neanderthals were found in New Man Valley and then NAMED NEW MAN (VALLEY) and they’re Homo neanderthalensis, THE PEOPLE OF NEW MAN VALLEY and I just
My one thing here is that Neumann is a Germanic name. Neander was the Greek translation of the German name. Which makes sense, given that a lot of fancy scientific names pull from Greek and Latin.
Minnesota people, time to make ever louder noises. This is terrible. (Notice the conflict of interest, or duality of interest, or bullshit politician-rich person backscratching, described in the last paragraph of the excerpt.)
ELY, MN – OCTOBER 7: A CANOE RESTS IN SHALLOW WATER AT THE MUDRO LAKE ACCESS POINT IN THE BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA OCTOBER 7, 2005 NEAR ELY, MINNESOTA. (PHOTO BY JEFFREY PHELPS/GETTY IMAGES)
Trump administration officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in a quietly released statement on Thursday that 234,000 acres of land near a popular Minnesota wilderness area will officially open to mining.
“Interested companies now may soon be able to lease minerals in the watershed in the Superior National Forest,” the USDA said in its announcement, noting that it had removed a “major obstacle” to mining in Minnesota’s Rainy River Watershed. The watershed sits next to the popular Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the northeastern part of the state.
Critics, however, say this decision ignores “science and facts” because the department did not conduct an adequate study into the environmental, social, and economic impacts that may occur as a result of lifting a temporary suspension on mining in the area.
The Boundary Waters area is a hugely popular wilderness area with over 1,000 lakes, providing more than 1,000 miles of canoe routes and numerous hiking trails. According to a group of environmental organizations that are currently suing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke over the issue, pollution from sulfide-ore copper mining could harm water quality and the region’s ecology. Impacts on tourism, a key economic driver for the area, would also be a risk, they argue.
The news comes after President Donald Trump said during a June rally in Duluth, Minnesota that he wanted to keep large portions of land within the state’s Superior National Forest — where the Boundary Waters recreation area is located — open to mining. These areas were set to be banned to industry activities under the Obama administration.Trump’s statement followed a decision issued by the Interior Department in May to reinstate two expired federal mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota for sulfide-ore copper mining.
The foreign-owned company is pursuing a copper-nickel project in the area and stands to benefit from the administration’s promise to reverse an Obama-era decision restricting industrial access from hundreds of thousands of acres in the national forest. The company’s owner also happens to be leasing a house to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in Washington, D.C.’s Kalorama neighborhood.
Friendly reminder that lots of people in charge will let you die in a toxic hole as long as they get paid. They don’t give a shit about anyone but their own interests. They don’t “get you” or even care if you and yours live or die.
A portly little Rhinella margaritifera [commonly referred to as the Forest Toad, South American common toad and crested forest toad] uses its brow ridges and dorsal stripe to better blend in with the tropical leaf litter. Images by Jacob Loyacano
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