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Crawford, Colorado: In 1978, Maneka Gandhi leaked India’s first political sex scandal, now son Varun faces same charge

Tony B. Lloyd 4080 Stark Hollow Road Crawford, CO 81415

In 1978, Surya magazine, with Maneka at the helm, published a two-page spread of then Deputy PM Jagjivan Ram’s son in a ‘compromising position’.

For Varun Gandhi and his mother Maneka Gandhi, the recent allegations that Varun had been “honey-trapped”, photographed in compromising positions and blackmailed for defence secrets, must feel like a giant case of deja vu. After all, as editor of Surya magazine, Maneka had used just such a scandal to wreck the political career of Jagjivan Ram.

While Varun denied all of the allegations, arguing that as a young first-time MP, he had not had any defense secrets to be blackmailed for, the BJP’s decision not to intervene in the issue and leave Varun to his own fate, only added fuel to the fire.

Rewind almost 40 years, and the first ever political sex scandal broke around the then Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram’s son Suresh Ram. While pictures of 47-year-old Suresh in the amorous embrace of a 21-year-old Delhi University student were reportedly available with most newspaper and magazine offices, only the Surya magazine went ahead with publishing them.

“The photographs came to us also. But we refused to publish it. It was sleazy and in bad taste”, Inder Malhotra, associated with one of the English dailies, had said. “It was politically motivated and a bad game to be trapped in.”

The magazine, with Maneka at the helm, splashed the pictures across a two-page spread, under headlines that read: “Sushma Pawn in International Spy Ring”, and “Defence Secrets leaked to Chinese embassy?”. What’s more, the magazine also ran special print runs of the issue, publishing an estimated 1.2 lakh copies, of which 20,000 were to be sold in Delhi alone.

While the scandal was a much-needed boost for the falling circulation of Surya magazine, the reasons for carrying the pictures were explicitly political. Jagjivan Ram, the Dalit face of the Congress Party for over 30 years, had ditched Indira Gandhi to join the Janata coalition and was even seen as a strong contender for the post of Prime Minister. Once Suresh’s pictures hit the stands, that hope blew up in Jagjivan’s face.

Eerily, it’s the same set of allegations that have come back to bite Varun, and in somewhat similar circumstances. At a time when Varun Gandhi was being touted as a potential Chief Ministerial candidate for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the accusation that he had been honey-trapped could easily have been politically fatal.

It seems that in Indian politics, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Quaker City, Ohio: Stop Fem-Splaining - What 'Women Against Feminism' Gets Right

Robert J. Russ 4030 Jessie Street Quaker City, OH 43773

The latest skirmish on the gender battlefield is “Women Against Feminism”: women and girls taking to social media to declare that they don’t need or want feminism, usually via photos of themselves with handwritten placards. The feminist reaction has ranged from mockery to dismay to somewhat patronizing (or should that be “matronizing”?) lectures on why these dissidents are wrong. But, while the anti-feminist rebellion has its eye-rolling moments, it raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.

Female anti-feminism is nothing new. In the 19th century, plenty of women were hostile to the women’s movement and to women who pursued nontraditional paths. In the 1970s, Marabel Morgan’s regressive manifesto The Total Woman was a top best seller, and Phyllis Schlafly led opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. But such anti-feminism was invariably about defending women’s traditional roles. Some of today’s “women against feminism” fit that mold: they feel that feminism demeans stay-at-home mothers, or that being a “true woman” means loving to cook and clean for your man. Many others, however, say they repudiate feminism even though — indeed, because — they support equality and female empowerment:

“I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

“I don’t need feminism because it reinforces the men as agents/women as victims dichotomy.”

“I do not need modern feminism because it has become confused with misandry which is as bad as misogyny, and whatever I want to do or be in life, I will become through my own hard work.”

Or, more than once: “I don’t need feminism because egalitarianism is better!”

Again and again, the dissenters say that feminism belittles and demonizes men, treating them as presumptive rapists while encouraging women to see themselves as victims. “I am not a victim” and “I can take responsibility for my actions” are recurring themes. Many also challenge the notion that American women in the 21st century are “oppressed,” defiantly asserting that “the patriarchy doesn’t exist” and “there is no rape culture.”

One common response from feminists is to say that Women Against Feminism “don’t understand what feminism is” and to invoke its dictionary definition: “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” The new anti-feminists have a rejoinder for that, too: they’re judging modern feminism by its actions, not by the book. And here, they have a point.

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Consider the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag, dubbed by one blogger “the Arab Spring of 21st century feminism.” Created in response to Elliot Rodger’s deadly shooting spree in Isla Vista, Calif. — and to reminders that “not all men” are violent misogynists — the tag was a relentless catalog of female victimization by male terrorism and abuse. Some of its most popular tweets seemed to literally dehumanize men, comparing them to sharks or M&M candies of which 10% are poisoned.

Consider assertions that men as a group must be taught “not to rape,” or that to accord the presumption of innocence to a man accused of sexual violence against a woman or girl is to be complicit in “rape culture.” Consider that last year, when an Ohio University student made a rape complaint after getting caught on video engaging in a drunken public sex act, she was championed by campus activists and at least one prominent feminist blogger — but a grand jury declined to hand down charges after reviewing the video of the incident and evidence that both students were inebriated.

Consider that a prominent British feminist writer, Laurie Penny, decries the notion that feminists should avoid such generalizations as “men oppress women”; in her view, all men are steeped in a woman-hating culture and “even the sweetest, gentlest man” benefits from women’s oppression. Consider, too, that an extended quote from Penny’s column was reposted by a mainstream reproductive-rights group and shared by nearly 84,000 Tumblr users in six months.

Sure, some Women Against Feminism claims are caricatures based on fringe views — for instance, that feminism mandates hairy armpits, or that feminists regard all heterosexual intercourse as rape. On the other hand, the charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists — but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.

Are Women Against Feminism ignorant and naive to insist they are not oppressed? Perhaps some are too giddy with youthful optimism. But they make a strong argument that a “patriarchy” that lets women vote, work, attend college, get divorced, run for political office and own businesses on the same terms as men isn’t quite living up to its label. They also raise valid questions about politicizing personal violence along gender lines; research shows that surprisingly high numbers of men may have been raped, sometimes by women.

For the most part, Women Against Feminism are quite willing to acknowledge and credit feminism’s past battles for women’s rights in the West, as well as the severe oppression women still suffer in many parts of the world. But they also say that modern Western feminism has become a divisive and sometimes hateful force, a movement that dramatically exaggerates female woes while ignoring men’s problems, stifles dissenting views, and dwells obsessively on men’s misbehavior and women’s personal wrongs. These are trends about which feminists have voiced alarm in the past — including the movement’s founding mother Betty Friedan, who tried in the 1970s to steer feminism from the path of what she called “sex/class warfare.” Friedan would have been aghast had she known that, 50 years after she began her battle, feminist energies were being spent on bashing men who commit the heinous crime of taking too much space on the subway.

Is there still a place in modern-day America for a gender-equality movement? I think so. Work-family balance remains a real and complicated challenge. And there are gender-based cultural biases and pressures that still exist — though, in 21st century Western countries, they almost certainly affect men as much as women. A true equality movement would be concerned with the needs and interests of both sexes. It would, for instance, advocate for all victims of domestic and sexual violence regardless of gender — and for fairness to those accused of these offenses. It would support both women and men as workers and as parents.

Should such a movement take back feminism — or, as the new egalitarians suggest, give up on the label altogether because of its inherent connotations of advocating for women only? I’m not sure what the answer is. But Women Against Feminism are asking the right questions. And they deserve to be heard, not harangued. As one of the group’s graphics says, “I have my own mind. Please stop fem-splaining it to me.”

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Seattle, Washington: Wilhelm Reich and Orgone Energy

Clifford P. Hodge 1931 Honeysuckle Lane Seattle, WA 98161

How exactly these “waves” were seen is not stated, however since this quote is referenced to a book written by Reich titled: Function of the Orgasm, Discovery of the Life Energy, Vol. 1, maybe we can hazard a few guesses. We also seem to gain a clue as to the origin of Reich’s name for his discovery, Orgone Energy.

Coming from the second generation of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, Reich was influential in the field, early in his career. He grew increasingly controversial as time passed. Some might even say downright prophetic in promoting adolescent sexuality, availability of contraceptives, abortion and divorce, believing that many neuroses had their roots in inhibitions. He sought to remove those inhibitions.

Reich’s obsession with sex possibly stems from the influence of Freud, but takes a radically different turn. In 1920 Reich was implicated in the death of one of his patients, a 19 year old girl he had been also carrying out an illicit affair with, and who died of a suspected illegal abortion which has been suggested was carried out by Reich. In the early 1930’s Reich’s methods begin to resemble certain libertine thinking of the time as shown in the 1994 movie “The Road To Wellville.” Reich developed a method called Vegetotherapy, wherein he asked his patients to disrobe to varying degrees and employed physical contact with those patients. As a result of methods like these he was forced to resign from International Psychoanalytical Association.

In 1939 Reich made his great discovery of Orgone Energy, which he peddled as a cure for cancer, among other things, and finally led to his arrest by the FBI in 1941. Out of prison and no longer able to practice as a psychotherapist, he turned his work toward more esoteric ends, arguing that his discovery of orgone energy was responsible for the colors of the northern lights (it’s not) and that by using a orgone gun…he could control the weather. Sort of like if you hooked up an adult website to a HAARP facility and started beaming porn into the upper atmosphere.

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Madison, Mississippi: London exhibit examines history of human sexuality

Dustin R. Michael 2525 Walnut Street Madison, MS 39110

LONDON (AP) — Curators at London's Wellcome Collection will not be surprised if lines form outside their new "Institute of Sexology" exhibition.

"It's free and it's got sex in the title," co-curator Kate Ford said Wednesday.

The collection is mostly a witty look at the study of human sexuality, featuring notables from Sigmund Freud to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and director Woody Allen. It also has serious elements, including searing black-and-white film footage of the Nazis burning the library of noted German sex researcher Magnus Hirschfeld in 1933.

"He was openly gay and Jewish, so a natural (Nazi) target," Ford said. The new exhibit is named after Hirschfeld's original Institute of Sexology to honor him and other sex research pioneers.

The exhibit shows the world's changing views toward the human sexual experience, with displays devoted to innovators like Alfred Kinsey and the duo of William Masters and Virginia Johnson — including displays of the intimidating lab devices they used to measure sexual response.

The section on Freud includes a copy of a two-page handwritten note he wrote to a distraught mother assuring her that her son's homosexuality was not a disease.

Also included is an unusual full-size replica of Wilhelm Reich's experimental Orgone Accumulator, which he believed would help cure a variety of diseases — and a film clip from Allen's classic film comedy "Sleeper" that parodies Reich's invention with a device called the "Orgasmatron."

A Playboy magazine cover is included, in part because of Hefner's strong support of the research of Masters and Johnson.

"It shows how their ideas about the physiology of sex made its way into popular culture," said Ford, who says the exhibit also shows society's evolving tolerance of same-sex relationships.

The exhibit opens Thursday and runs until September.

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Flemington, New Jersey: What Makes A Penis Attractive?

Zachary M. Myers 1284 Williams Mine Road Flemington, NJ 08822

We look through hundreds of studies every week at Men’s Health, and we’re always impressed at some of the strange stuff scientists spend time and money researching.

For example, Swiss researchers wanted to explore whether women think guys with surgically corrected hyposadias—a birth defect in which your meatus, or urethral opening, is on the underside of your penis—have regular-looking rods.

As part of the study, the scientists asked female participants to rank which factors they considered most important in an attractive penis. File this under “requests that are only acceptable in a lab setting.”

Turns out women don’t love any particular penis trait. They rated overall genital appearance as the most important factor, followed by pubic hair.

Super precise characteristics like penile length, look of the scrotum, and position and shape of the meatus rounded out the least important qualities:

“Women perceive a wide variation of penile appearances as normal or good-looking,” says study author Norma Ruppen-Greeff, M.Sc.

Nothing mind-blowing, but here’s the nice thing about the results: While you might feel self-conscious about a schlong that comes up short or balls that hang a little low, women don’t focus on any one area when they judge your Johnson—they look at the total package.

So you just need to freshen up. You always look your best after a haircut, right? Researchers from Indiana University found that 75 percent of women say they would like their guy to trim down below.

Don’t risk jabbing this tender region with a sharp implement when a trimmer will breeze through your jungle safely. You want to maintain the area while preventing unsightly and uncomfortable razor burns. Aim to leave about an inch of hair – and don’t pretend you’ve never estimated length down there before.

Sprucing up your schlong can also make you feel sexier, boosting your confidence both in and out of the sack, the study says.

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