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Middlebury women take a snowy ride up to Ripton, ca. 1940s

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

In this clip, members of the Women’s Forum of Middlebury College load up holiday gifts into a truck parked behind Forrest Hall, en route to the Meeting House in Ripton, VT. Upon their arrival in Ripton, local children run (and slide, trudge, and sled) to meet them. The Middlebury women, joined by a costumed Santa, distribute their holiday gifts.

Established in 1937, the Women’s Forum was itially organized to further interest in economic, political, and social issues of the day. In 1944 the group merged with the Student Action Assembly to focus on social and service work. This clip dates likely dates from the early to mid 1940’s.

Happy holidays from Special Collections & Archives.

We were greatly shocked with the news…

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

During a recent visit to the archives by Professor Ellie Gebarowski-Shafer’s Religion 130 class, The Christian Tradition, students plowed through 214 years of Middlebury College missionary history with College Archivist Danielle Rougeau. Amid the pages of 19th century cursive was this diary entry by Mary Martin, wife of a missionary to China and grandmother of Mabel Martin (later Mary Buttolph), Class of 1911. (Mary Martin is pictured below, circa 1865.)

Mary Martin


After the death of her husband and a young son in China, Mary returned to Vermont by way of San Francisco. After 69 days at sea, she writes her last diary entry on May 21, 1965:

We were greatly shocked with the news we heard on our arrival this morning of the assassination of president Lincoln but very glad to learn that the war is over and that slavery is abolished.

Postscript: Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865. News traveled slowly in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Her mention of this news falls smack in the middle of the page below. To learn more about Middlebury missionaries, Mary Martin, or to cut your teeth on some 19th century cursive, visit Special Collections.

Martin.1965

A recipe to keep mites off your cheese, circa 1778

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In the same year that Captain Cook sailed to Hawaii and Great Britain declared war on France, Helen Weldon started her recipe book in Bath, England on January 29, 1778. In addition to keeping mites off your cheese, she includes recipes for Mock Turtle (Calves head) soup, Onion Soop [sic] and raspberry vinegar “for those who want a pleasant cooler” in the summer. Remedies like Teeth Water, Poison for Rats & Mice, and Diuretic Balls for Horses are included too. Her handwritten notebook was acquired by Special Collections this summer. Learn more in our online catalog or by visiting Special Collections.

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Receipts Cookery, 1778

 

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Baked Calfs head

Gender in Bulgaria (summary)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Gender in Bulgaria at a glance- World Bank Report

Gender Pay GapI stumbled upon this super concise document produced by the World Bank in Bulgaria which takes a look at gender and the distribution of employment and education between the genders.

I’m not at all surprised with the findings that, indeed, there is gender balance in Bulgaria and while we have not yet had a woman President, women are somewhat well represented in Parliament (holding 25% of seats and making up for 19% of Ministers as of 2013).

Again, not surprisingly man and women’s occupation are distributed in a rather traditional manner, women holding above 50% of positions in Education and Health and men dominating the labor fields of engineering, manufacturing and construction.

This fact itself calls for further action in terms of diversifying the gender make up of these fields in order to cope with stereotypes coming from traditional thinking that create false beliefs and disallow young men and women to pursue any career interest.

It’s worth mentioning that the wage gap in Bulgaria (the difference between the salaries received by men and women) is lower than the average for the European Union member states and equals only 13%.

belgiq-integrira-romi-imigrantiThe document presents an interesting statistical comparison between Roma and non-Roma population in Bulgaria and points out at the perceivable gender imbalance  between men and women from the first group. Presumably due to culture differences in marriage, childbirth and other customs, in addition to societal expectations and/or discrimination Roma women are drastically less employed (26%) than non-Roma women (56%). Moreover, it is safe to assume that the occupations Roma women hold differ significantly in terms of specialization, quality of working conditions and wages provided.

The chart on the Roma population points at the significantly lower number of years of school attendance for Roma children and youth (7.1 for Roma men, 6.2 for Roma women, compared with 11.1/11.3 for the Non-Roma population). Interestingly, research on the attitudes of this group shows stronger patriarchal and heteronormative attitudes in the Roma community where 52% of men and 38% of women approve of instances of domestic violence towards women.

non-heteronormative martenitsi by Maria Vassileva FlicrThis document while useful with its conciseness leaves out underrepresented groups which don’t identify with their assigned gender (transgender) or have a different understanding on gender (whether genderqueer, genderfluid, etc.) and takes a look at Bulgarian society from the persistent and pervasive heteronormative perspective which creates gender outcasts and disallows the socially inclusive study of society that could really foster dialogue about gender.

It is important as we read and review documents on topics as gender which, indeed, have the potential to acquire mass public interest to introduce the modern language and concepts associated with the topic. Such un-intrusive informal education calls for respect and acknowledgement of the differences between people and creates opportunities for both individuals and society as a whole to self-actualize.

 

Please, share your thoughts by using the comment form below :) Thanks for reading!


10 Tantric insights to transform the sexual experience

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“In your body, there exists a subtle current of electricity, very subtle. But the subtler it is, the deeper it goes. It is not very visible. Scientists say that all the electricity that is in your body, if put together, can be used to light a five-candle bulb. It is not much. Quantitatively it is not much, quantitatively the atom is not much, but qualitatively… If it explodes, it has tremendous energy in it.” Osho, Philosophia Perennis, Vol. 1, Talk #8

armand-sagredo-tantra-yoga-nidra-Tantra is the practice of consciously creating conectedness. It is an ancient technique that comes to remind us that our bodies and what we do with them is sacred. Through sexuality we grow spiritually and get closer to not only our partners, but ourselves, and God. Tantra helps us heal and empower our relationships through expanding our consciousness and our ability to be present, open up and share.
Tantra is an ancient practice dating back to the fifth century, and as a meditation practice it has influenced Hindu, Sikh, Bön, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. It spread with Buddhism to East and Southeast Asia, and contains enormous cultural significance in central Asia.

Even when they are not practiced within a greater spiritual context, tantric values and tools may influence a great change in the way we go about sex, leading to greater pleasure and satisfaction for both men and women.

Frustrated by how little we know about each other’s bodies and how much we assume about and project over sexuality, I decided to share some Tantric insights and suggestions that can completely transform the sexual experience.

  1. present-4First and foremost advice to make a priority and a habit: Be present! Presence is tricky and there are just so many ways we distract ourselves from being here and now. Whether it’s alcohol, or drugs, or distracting thoughts, let’s not be somewhere far away while being quite literally in someone else! What presence takes is some confidence that the person in your bed indeed wants to be there and that what is created right then and there- between this person and you, with the lights on or off, has the potential to be sexy, amazing and fun without the need of any super skills! And it most certainly is!
  2. images (1)Most of these will sound like common sense, but we can only wish they were: Be with ME! I’m not your ex-girlfriend, nor any other girl you’ve had sex with. You don’t have to seem or pretend to know what I, or any other woman or all of us together (God, if it was even possible!) want. It’s enough to just be curious about finding out. What does my body react to? Which parts are more sensitive than others (apart from the obvious!)? The fact that something has worked with someone somewhere is just so random that it can never be taken for granted. Sexual experience is about knowing alternatives and being comfortable with experimenting! Learning about someone’s preferences, differences, weird little things that make them shiver is magical, it’s like learning a new language without having a manual…
  3. images (2)What’s even more beautiful about it is it cannot be recreated! The energy that two human beings, two bodies create together is unique… It would create so much more respect if we were accept it and move past comparing and rating each other! There are no better or worst experiences, but only different ones. What makes us compare and rate them is to what extent they align with our own preferences. Yet, in sex and in life everything is dynamic- what once gives us pleasure, we will not react the same way to another time. Sexual experience is situational and for the most part making the most of it requires you to be flexible, open-minded and free of expectations!
  4. No scripts- Take it easy. Go slow. Build the energy. Flow with it. It’s sad that because of the easily accessible pornography and bad literature on sex, people view sex as a show they choose to perform in, yet having to abide to a certain agenda. There is no agenda. No script. The longer, the better (for many of us). Some of the best experiences I have had in life, in general, are the ones that have evolved and transformed on the go, naturally… The intimate moments I remember the most clearly are the ones who have been an almost-never-ending journey through pleasure, excitement and exploration. When we kiss and talk, talk and kiss and… I wish we would never let ourselves give each other only the mechanics, only the bare bones of sex!
  5. tantra coupleStay there! Tantra claims that as individuals and as lovers we are at all times immersed in the energy of love, life and sex, in kundalini. To follow the energy means to be sensitive to the processes that are taking place and the changes that occur for one reason or another. As I have already mentioned, it is about being in the here and now, with your partner, accepting everything that comes along without pertaining to traditional or popular scripts about sex and intimacy. Everything is okey when the partners are all respectful, loving. A guy may lose his erection, starting to jerk of hastily to bring it back. The attitude with which this is done may disturb the energy a lot more than having the penis soft for a while, if it magnifies the idea that there are certain ways in which things should be to be “right”, as if it is all about the physical component of it. Instead, when this occurs, the lovers can go back to caressing each other, reconnecting with the flow of energy, building to higher and higher states of ecstasy.
  6. awakening kundalini reikiDon’t make it all about the achievement- whenever I have refused to go further with someone, it has been because I have felt that the other person’s focus has been oriented towards a certain goal, making me feel as a mean to its realization. Sex should not be orgasm oriented. Orgasm in tantra is associated with the release and, thus, loss of the vital kundalini energy (life energy). This is why after orgasm, people feel tired and need to sleep. Tantric sex is meditative. It runs on no schedule. It can take hours, if certain techniques to raise the energy to higher chakras and work with certain body parts are acquired.The greatest about it is that compared to “standard” sex, there is no game over. The problem with sex being orgasm-oriented is, one, people are objectified, two, pressure is involved which makes it all about achievement. When I give tantric massage on special occasions, I make sure to explain that it has no goal and no time frame. And because it is so free of pressure, both I and the receiving partner are at ease. A loving atmosphere is created and, indeed, the whole process feels a lot less “sexual” and a lot more loving. It’s all about the energy passing through the skin, giving pleasure to someone else, while yourself enjoying the process. This is when you don’t get tired, you don’t get bored or anxious.
  7. The principles of tantric love-making are that every time you stop just before the point of no return and continue shortly after, you don’t lose the energy (as if you, simply let it happen), but continue from a higher level of sexual arousal building up to more and more intense levels of ecstasy.  The benefits are for both men and women as it allows women to relax and receive the attention and treatment they need.
  8. largeTouch lightly unless otherwise specified- the lighter the touch, the more intense is the reaction. Pain is not cool (except in some circles). Whenever pain is brought in the equation, this takes away from the energy. Pain is there for a reason- it’s a signal to be aware and be ready to fight or run. When my brother was 15, he used to squeeze the breath out of me in rear moments of sudden exposure of love. But it’s amazing to find out that there are grown up men out there who have no idea how much strength they’ve got in their hands (quite literally!). Bruises, hickies, blue spots are NOT sexy! Mindfulness how you place your body weight over another human being does not take too much! Always check with your partner and follow his/her reactions to see whether more pressure is acceptable and appreciated. Certain spots, of course, are more sensitive compared to others. It’s hard to believe there are still people out there not knowing this, yet pay attention: the clitoris is the most sensitive part in the human body. “The clitoral head alone contains 8,000 nerve endings—4x as many as exist on the larger head of the penis. As if 8,000 weren’t enough, the clitoris interacts with over 15,000 other nerve endings in the pelvis.”[1]

    Men kind of know that, and go there straight away, which is another no-go. Play around it, never suck it hard (or at all) and if you’ll touch- touch lightly[2].

  9. SONY DSCCreate your own language- another tool you can lend from Tantra, is creating a body language to use in the heat of the moment. Sometimes talking out loud takes away from the passion, but small gestures used over time can help you keep the communication alive while not letting it disturb you. For, instance during tantric massage the person who receives the massage may apply slight pressure to a certain easily accessible part of the body of the massage giver to ask him/her to slow down. A squeeze may be translated as “I’m almost losing it. Stop right where you  are!” This type of “language” may help introduce more comfort and clarity for both sides.
  10. Expand comfort zones, but Respect boundaries- besides a source for great pleasure and intimacy, sex can help us move beyond certain fears, taboos or traumas. Through sexuality and love-making we can heal ourselves and expand our comfort zones. For this to happen, trust and comfort should be present. One should never test someone else’s boundaries or reactions going all the way. When boundaries are to be challenged, it must happen with a) consent, b) patience- sometimes people need time to figure out how they feel about stuff, c) with care and not for the sake of  building a sexual repertoire.

Share your feedback or suggestions using the form bellow. Thanks for reading! <3


[1] http://www.valleyadvocate.com/article.cfm?aid=15092

[2] Well, what I mean here, of course, is that touching directly the clitoris is usually very painful because of the too intense direct stimulation of nerve endings. Of course, women have different preferences. But it’s safer and often more enjoyable for both parties to experiment with pressure and intensity over time.


Where do we go now?

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Tonight I went to the screening of the movie “Where do we go now” organized by the Arabic Department in Middlebury College. The movie was by all means one of the best I have seen.

A remote Lebanese village inhabited by Christians and Muslims has found the way to peaceful coexistence. Respect and brotherly love are being spread until outside conflicts between representatives of the two religions start to cast doubt on the feasibility of maintaining peace. A series of accidents cause the outbreak of violence between the men of the village and women have to take control of the situation and prevent the happening of what now seems inevitable.

Drastical measures are taken in order to cool down the men and reinforce peace: Ukranian show-girls are paid to stay in the village for a week, so that men will be distracted; hash-brownies and sweets are prepared and served to bring everyone together. While the male population of the village is enjoying the effects of the hashish and the moves of the Ukranian dance-girls, their mothers and wives hide all their reserves of guns and at least seemingly change their faith for the other one.

This is a profound and engaging story about the strength of love and the value of life, which resonates with us not only on a personal level, but on a grater scale as well: for peace should be everyone’s responsibility and everyone’s priority to keep an eye on.

Where Do We Go Now Trailer 2012 – Official movie trailer in HD – from Lebanese Writer/Director/Actress Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”) – a heart-warming tale of a group of women’s determination to protect their community from the outside forces that threaten to destroy it.


In Their Own Words: Esme Lutz ’12.5

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“In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series featuring the experiences of Middlebury students at their summer internships. This summer Esme Lutz ’12.5 interned with the Rehwa Society in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh, India.

What did you do?

My project focuses on the Rehwa Society, an Indian nonprofit organization established in 1978 dually to promote a regional craft and provide employment specifically for women. Before traveling to India, I conducted research using many of Middlebury’s online resources in order to deepen my understanding of Indian culture and gender relations. I planned to compile a photographic documentary—using images combined with text to illustrate Rehwa’s story to a viewer—and thus spent my time in India observing the weaving process, interviewing key figures associated with the organization, photographing a variety of individuals and objects, as well as traveling to a few different workshops to compare and contrast the methods utilized there. Now near returning back to school, I am in the midst of collating the materials I collected in the way I described in my proposal (with a few small additions): composing an article to publish in a campus magazine, working with curators to exhibit the images I took at Middlebury, sharing the pictures with Rehwa to be used in a promotional “look book,” submitting written material to Rehwa to include in a future application to UNESCO to become a living heritage site, and displaying the photographs publicly via the web.

What did you learn?

My experience was not easy: I was living alone, in a small town in a rural area, unable to speak a difficult-to-just-pick-up language in a country with drastically different from the one in which I had spent most of my life. While at times being in Maheshwar was incredibly enchanting and filled me with an effusive sense of love for the world around me, at other it was exhausting, lonely, and incredibly frustrating. This being said, besides  the factual knowledge I gained, the benefits of interacting with people whose lives are very different from my own, of encountering norms and problems unfamiliar in my home environment, and of pushing myself into a situation in which I initially felt very uncomfortable, are undeniable.

What are your plans for the future?

As my studies wind to a close (in February) and I think increasingly about my next motions, my experience in India will definitely register strongly in my mind when considering characteristics I desire in a career. It was incredible to encounter people with different circumstance and background, to push myself further into situations that were momentarily uncomfortable, and to have an expanse of time to think critically about a single subject. My interests have definitely taken a more international focus, and I hope to, in part, address the fundamental challenges I observed firsthand while in Maheshwar.

Think this experience sounded pretty cool? Check out opportunities like this and more on MOJO.