Today in Catholic BS

If you say this: “For what on earth is the sexual act, if not an attempt to control the body of the beloved? This is obvious in the physical sense, as the lover tries to “control” the other’s body into experiencing ecstasy…”

I am going to guess you know nothing about the female orgasm outside your rapey faux Theology of the Body fantasies.

And if you say this: “Women’s sexuality is internal to their bodies. This means something.” I am going to guess you don’t know what a clitoris is.

So if you don’t want me to say this, especially you, dear virginal young Catholic men so eager to tell me what’s what on sex and gender, I suggest you just….stop.

10 (Completely Absurd and Innapropriate) Catholic Halloween Ideas

All Hallow’s Eve is only three weeks away! Still looking for a costume? Do you lack the professional makeup skills to be a zombie? Have you been an elf or Harry Potter character every year since you were eleven? Is being a vampire too trite, Mormon abstinence porn-y, or bloody ridiculous? Think that being a Sexy Ninja Turtle or Sexy Hamburger is just too immodest/absurd/insult to everything good and holy?

Fear not! The Babes are here to salvage your dreams of a spectacular Mischief Night!

10) Una Catrina– Because Mexicans know how to celebrate the Day of the Dead, ok.

Also it involves pretty dresses.

9) St. Polycarp: Assemble three or more friends willing to don a Magicarp costume. Replace the crown with a miter.

8) Go as America’s most infamous influential Catholic family, The Kennedy Clan! Be sure to include rum-running Joe and give periodic speeches on the separation of Church and state, how your Catholic consciences totally lead you to your positions on abortion, contraception, marital fidelity etc. Actually, no… on second thought, don’t do that- just look pretty and smile.

Extra points if you can pick up a Taylor Swift, Marilyn Monroe, or Terminator during the course of the night.

7) Women’s Liberation/Women’s Health: Dress up as a giant vagina or uterus, create handcuffs and chains out of condoms, smother yourself a pool of hormones and stick a copper rod through yourself. Meanwhile, yell at the top of your lungs about how all this is necessary to escape misogyny and male oppression.

6) Take the prettiest young Irish-American you know (come on- you know who he is), and… persuade him to go as Paul Ryan.

5) Scare the pants right off all the immodest women you see by going as a “pigeon-toed guy with a scaly neck”. (Note: This costume requires that one speak only in Latin.)

4) Stuff yourself and 40 of your closest girlfriends into a minivan and go as Nuns on a Bus!
Don’t forget your polyester, mumus, and copy of Pink Smoke Over the Vatican! (Extra points! Bring a Womynpriest! Or take your show on a boat!)

3) Remind the secular culture that persecution of the Catholic Church has its consequences! Don a mask, grab some gunpowder, dynamite, or other explosives, and walk into the nearest government building as Guy Fawkes!

Disclaimer: Babes in Babylon is in no way responsible if you’re actually stupid enough to do this. Also emulating cyberterrorists is a bajillion times cooler than actual terrorism- cyber or otherwise. Keep it safe and classy, folks

2) If you don’t get out much, have a pasty complexion, and like the idea of the Church Militant, consider a costume as an albino assassin priest- otherwise known as a member of Opus Dei (Dan Brown ed.).

1) Or for something truly terrifying…  LITURGICAL PUPPETS OF DOOM

Because I’m Staying in Tonight

Fun with search terms! To wit:


babylon poetry and music blogspot

facebook vagina diaries

babes of babylon d-man

babes of babylon

barefoot babes

watch tv show babes

babes of babylon shut down-strip

babes in babylon wordpress

babes in babylon

“babes in babylon” blog catholic  [I’m just happy it wasn’t the “catholic” in scare quotes]

angry songs


Why do my spidey senses tell me that quite a few of these people were looking for something a little more, ahem, adult? Oh right, because one of my friends googled this blog and was taken to a porn site. At work.

This is why we fight.

Also, can NSFW be our new tagline?

Lady, Can I Buy You a Link?

Ok, so I was going to write a take-down of this piece (Large families less likely to have computers THIS IS SO TERRIBLE I CAN’T EVEN FIND MY PEARLS TO CLUTCH THEM), but then I realized I’d be allowing myself to be trolled even more egregiously than usual, because the essay is just. so. stupid. Read it though, if you need a laugh.

It’s always admirable and refreshing to see those on the religious right attacking misogyny. Bravo to First Things for publishing this. Also, I think this article supplies what was lacking in the first by problematizing wifely submission in the Christian tradition a bit more. Somebody remind me to finally write something on this.

Thank you, mom, for never letting me read Cosmo–although I think these problems are  universal among women’s magazines, if not always so garishly obvious.

Reasons you should love Pussy Riot:


Sorry, did you not catch that? That they are an anonymous all-female punk band who pled at the altar of a church for our Blessed Mother to throw Putin out?

“Holy Mother, throw Putin out!”

Yeah, I don’t think we need any more reasons either. To be fair, storming into a church is at best an ambiguous move–it could be read as aggression towards religion, or a return to the church as a place of sanctuary, a radical affirmation of the Church’s freedom and authority. I tend to read it the second way, but I’m not Orthodox, so I don’t know what the story is over there. Either way, they’re brave ladies and I’m glad they’ve found champions in–if not high places, at least highly visible ones.

Speaking of the Blessed Mother, I’ve never had this kind of encounter with her, but I’m not giving up hope.

Admit it. You’ve been conned, you’ve been suckered. You like Anthropologie. You won’t admit it, you pretend you’ve never walked in penniless to bask in their goddess-y, jasmine-and-musk candle scented air, to feel for twenty minutes that all was lovely and all was right, including you– you tell yourself that you’re not stupid enough to think that sighing romance can be branded and sold. But you don’t fool me. You like it in there, and I do too, more fool us.

The good news is, some (not most) of their clothes really are quality, and sometimes they go on sale for twenty bucks.

Well thank goodness.

Jessica Valenti is wary of The Atlantic’s new ladyblog, and doesn’t think much of mainstream media ladyblogs in general. I tend to agree , especially with The Atlantic–after all, they gave us Caitlin Flanagan’s musings on women.

Ok, I swore I wasn’t going to say anything about Chik-fil-A because, really? Also, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count as activism to nom on either orange mocha latte frappucinos OR delicious chicken sandwiches. Vaclav Havel is shaking his head at you. But anyway, I liked Calah Alexander’s take on the whole manufactured non-event.

Of course, if activism is merely an excuse for stuffing your face with delicious chicken sandwiches, than I heartily understand, support, and laud you.

Well, this is interesting.

I love this.

I’m sorry, this series just seems awful in a kind of fantastic way.

Via Feministing, this is great in an angsty introspective way.

Men, if you read the next link, any cooties or trauma not my problem.

I know I’m late to this party, but I kind of want to learn to chart my cycle.

Kyrie eleison.

Some more awful.

Now I’m just depressing myself.

My Male Friends Who Read This Blog Should Maybe Go Away For This Post?

On a date recently, someone had the temerity to inquire whether or not I was a virgin. I replied that it was none of his damn business, and what kind of a creepy question was that, anyway?  He was interested, he said, because he had a hypothesis he wanted to test. He was quite sure I could not be a virgin, because the way I talked and acted was not the way a virgin talks and acts. Which meant, as far as I could tell, that I looked him in the eye and said what I thought without blush, apology, or nervous titter.

You can guess how he fared and how the date ended.

At times like these I like to think of my favorite statue in the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Female virginity has become entangled with a sickly, sentimental construction of passive femininity; a kind of chivalric purity that smells of heavy imitation rose perfume and requires a china doll untainted by passion, experience, or thought.

But the most famous of all the virgin goddesses, Artemis, was  a huntress, and she was merciless. Athena, the protector of Odysseus, tormentor of Ajax, refused marriage.  Virginity was not a retreat into sweet fragility–it was savage freedom. Innocence was ferocious, and not something to be casually appropriated or messed with.  It refused to be domesticated, and provided no safe playground for male sexual jockeying.

And while we’re at it, the actual virgin mother of God–you know, the one who crushed the head of Satan, whose radical yes brought redemption to the world, the woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet? She doesn’t sound like much of a shrinking violet to me.


Virginity is so easy to fetishize–but the fact is, for most of us, it’s not the chosen consecration of a nun. It’s something temporary, a function of our state in life and the way said life has turned out thus far. It’s not the key to mind-blowing orgasms and mystical union on the oft-romanticized wedding night, nor the reason one practices chastity, nor the dividing line between the Nice Girls and the whores (well, maybe for some people it is, but who wants to be a Nice Girl, anyway?).

Despite all this, some people seem to think that one’s virginity or lack thereof is a matter for public discussion, or that they have the right to know and shame you for your sexual history, whatever it might be.

Your virginity is nobody’s business but your own.

Your virginity is nobody’s business but your own.

Your vagina is not public property.

Your hymen is not public property.

It does not belong to your father, or your boyfriend, or your future husband. It belongs to you, and you belong to God.

So remember that the next time someone tries to sexualize your boldness, your free and frank enjoyment of life–or the next time someone uses your sexual inexperience to put you in an infantile and sentimental box.

And the next time some man dares to intrude on your privacy with a question by which he hopes either to slut-shame or dismiss you–smile sweetly, and ask if he’s ever heard the story of Acteon.

“Read it, you’ll love it. You remind me of him so much.”

I Don’t Care About Safe Legal Rare

How’s that for a culture war chant?*

So, here is an interview with the anti-Nat Hentoff, a Christian obstetrician who began performing abortions. It’s fairly unremarkable stuff, but this exchage caught me.

Q. You say women in their second trimester often have the most compelling need for an abortion. Why?

 A. They lack access to health care or don’t have an understanding of their body changes, and often figure out later that they’re pregnant. Or they find out early enough that they’re pregnant, but their lack of access to health care or volatile, dysfunctional relationships delay seeking help.

This kind of hedging and excusing is standard for the “safe, legal, and rare” crowd, and it’s always driven me a bit mad:  this need to explain how these women don’t really deserve to be pregnant, that they wouldn’t have waited so long to seek an abortion had they known, never would have put us in this unpleasant position of ending the life of something that looks just a little bit more like us than it did five weeks ago. Because that really is the only reason to make a moral distinction about viability or repeat abortions once we’ve decided that the person growing in the womb lacks moral standing due to its inhabitance of a woman’s body–our own comfort. The comfort of telling ourselves that we would never be like those skanky women who don’t use condoms, that we would never be in that position, that good heavens, our support for abortion rights does not encompass such gross if undefined “irresponsibility;” the comfort of stroking our reasonable, nuanced, moderate respectability.

Here’s the thing: pregnancy isn’t a punishment for the bad girls, and abortion isn’t a gold-star for women who use their vaginas in the ways we find appropriate . Opposition to abortion does not rest on the premise that women must be punished, so it baffles me when its supporters go down that route.  The only compelling argument for abortion I’ve ever encountered is that no creature has the right to life when that life exists at the expense of the bodily integrity and autonomy of another–I don’t find it that compelling, obviously, but I can see the point.  And the point is not one that brooks a lot of sniffy moderation: either women must exercise full and unquestioned control over the fetus as resident of their bodies, or the fetus must be granted all the rights and protections of personhood from the first moment of its existence as a human organism.

But for the love of all that’s holy, people,  pick which side you’re on. Stop trying to pretend that your death-grip on a tidy world is the same as moral seriousness, or that taking a stand means that nobody gets hurt.


*This may be why no one pays me to write these things.

Points of Order

First point:

These brownies are the closest thing I have to a sex life.

Slutty brownies

And you know what? That’s fine with me. Or it will be come Sunday when they facilitate some Dorian Gray level chocolate-wallowing decadence.

Second point:

You guys need to post more! I know, you both have lives and Addie actually does her homework, but as much as I love hearing myself talk (type?), I’m starting to feel….a little lonely.

Third point:

“A warrior is one whose basic responsibility is to preserve and protect life.”

-Eve Ensler

Which brings me to my fourth point:

Stay tuned for a review of The Vagina Monologues! Possibly till after finals, but still. I do after all have a sticker that says “I’m worth waiting for!”, and it holds true for both actual vaginas and monologues about them.

Oh geez. I wonder if the pretty chastity speaker who gave me that sticker ever imagined how the emblems of her activism would be used.


An Open Letter to Conservatives and Chastity Educators

[Warning: may be triggering for survivors of sexual assault/rape]

Dear Aforementioned,

This week is V-Week at Dartmouth. And no, the V in V-Week and V-Day does not refer to vagina. It refers to violence: violence against women and girls, structural and individual, domestic and sexual, and the horrendous repercussions it has on the entire community. And so, in honor of V-week, and like any good student of new media, I decided to post an article about the evils of victim-blaming on my facebook.

I found several articles–on,,, various blogs with various degree of  radical feminist leanings. Each time I tried to post, a helpful thumbnail declared the link courtesy of Planned Parenthood. Yippee.

Surely, I thought, I could find a more friendly source. Surely the Love and Fidelity Network, whose mission is proclaiming the sexual dignity of all, would have something helpful. This is what I found.

and this.

I found a piece about how rape statistics are the inventions of angry feminists coupled with the mistakes of libidinous coeds, and a tour de force of rape-excusing, victim-blaming pablum couched in terms of gentle admonishment to stricter sexual mores.

I wish I could say this abysmal dearth of any remotely helpful treatment of rape is the exception. Unfortunately, it is the rule. It is the rule to treat sexual assault as a soapbox to decry the sexual revolution, to casually appropriate the sufferings of sexual assault survivors as cannon-fodder in the culture war, with only minimal evidence of real concern or thoughtfulness. It is the rule to buffer assumptions and attitudes that normalize sexual assault with blithe unconcern for any damage done except to ideological lockstep within the conservative community.

I have had enough. If you are reading this, someone you know, very probably someone you care for deeply, has survived at least attempted sexual assault. One in four college women will experience attempted rape at some point in her life. And so might the men you love. One of my best friends  was drugged, raped, and murdered one month ago–and in case you were wondering, no, he wasn’t showing any cleavage. To Love and Fidelity Network and the entire movement you spearhead: until this changes, you get not one dime of my money, not one word of my support, not one minute of my time at your conferences and clubs.

Until you show that you have thought long and hard about sexual violence without subordinating it to your agenda, until you privilege women and men over ideology; until you cease to be a part of the problem of rape culture– I want nothing to do with you.