THIS STORY ENDS WITH AN eccentric entrepreneur distributing 2,500 maps of the United States in the shape of a pig to a gala of Civil War veterans. It begins with sewing machines. Grover and Baker sewing machines, to be precise.
The year was 1980, and feminist activist Ellen Pence had just moved to Duluth, Minnesota. Since 1975, with the tide of the feminist movement rising across the United States , Pence had been involved with organizing against domestic violence — work she furthered with friends when they founded the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) in Duluth. When a brutal domestic violence murder shook the small community, the group sprung into action.
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No matter what love style you choose, all relationships have one common denominator: They’re super-complicated. First, society imposes rigid definitions of gender, sexuality, and love. Add that to the personal baggage we pick up along the way, and you’ve got one explosive cocktail.
Polyamory is no exception. Based on the belief that we can be sexually and romantically involved with more than one person in a healthy, consensual way, polyamory is a type of ethical non-monogamy. Unlike cheating, which is nonconsensual, ethical non-monogamy requires thateveryone enthusiastically consents to the arrangement. There are lots of different definitions of polyamory, but most people distinguish it from more casual open relationships, like “monogamish” arrangements or swinging, because polyamory includes emotional as well as physical or sexual intimacy.
TWELVE-THOUSAND YEARS AGO, THE GLACIERS receded from modern-day British Columbia, leaving the land to bleed silt into the sea. In the salty shallows hugging the coast, bivalves struggled to survive, growing slow and dying small in the fluctuating temperatures of the newly thawed ocean. Their shells fell to the floor and built up on beaches, forming layers of calcium carbonate that, today, archaeologists in galoshes dig through, deciphering the story of this land in clamshells.
Read more at Atlas Obscura. Photo credit: Simon Fraser University, CC BY 2.0.
During the relationship, I felt like a cardboard cutout of myself: thin, flimsy, a printed-on smile plastered on my face. After I left, I was a different person. I flinched at loud noises and the sound of footsteps behind me on the street. I cried unpredictably and often. But I was also more intuitive, more empathetic, and much stronger. I didn’t know who this new, post-abuse version of myself was, but truth be told — I thought she was pretty rad.
IN THE 1910S, COFFEE CROPS around the world began to suffer a mysterious ailment. When plucked from the tree, the coffee fruit, usually plump and crimson, was riddled with round holes, and the damaged beans inside were nearly useless. Growers soon discovered that the culprit was a small beetle, the coffee berry borer, which has spread through the world like a caffeine-eating plague. Where did it come from? How could growers eradicate it?
In Northwest China’s Gobi Desert, autumn tints the landscape a flaming scarlet. The fields of red aren’t deciduous leaves blushing with the season. They’re chili peppers, spread out to dry under the hot desert sun following the late-summer harvest. Each September and October, farmers across the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which produces a fifth of China’s world-leading pepper harvest, let the harsh sun and 100-plus degree temperatures do the work that most American producers leave to industrial dehydrators.
WHEN ARUNA TIRKEY, A MEMBER of Central India’s Oraon indigenous community, walked into her small town’s glossy new department store almost a decade ago, one product made her stop short: a packet of millet. Known locally among the Oraon as madua, millet was a staple in Tirkey’s family when she was growing up. As the influence of industrial agriculture spread to India’s hinterlands, however, the traditional grain had become increasingly rare. Seeing millet in an upscale store, marketed at a price many indigenous Indians couldn’t afford, Tirkey was shocked. “It was surprising for me to see the product in the store at a premium price, knowing that at the same time it was fast disappearing from our diets,” she wrote.
FOR DECADES, ARCHAEOLOGISTS EXCAVATING ANCIENT children’s graves in Germany and Austria were puzzled by a set of artifacts: small, rounded vessels, some with handles, and some with designs that looked like the ears and feet of unrecognizable creatures. “We think of [them] as mythical animals,” says Julie Dunne, a Senior Research Associate in chemistry at the University of Bristol, whose team recently analyzed several of the vessels, which date from 1200 BC to 450 BC.
“I’ve never been with anyone who talks so much during sex,” he said. I was midway through an R-rated romp when this sexy someone’s comment stopped me in my tracks. What?! I thought. What could be better than alternating oral sex with oral expression?
As a feminist writer, I spend a lot of time talking about sex, and that enthusiasm spills over into the bedroom. But it’s not just the obviously erotic possibilities of dirty talk that appeal to me. It’s also because, for me, verbal cues are the easiest way to make sure the sex I’m having is hot, fun, and affirmatively consensual.