Zer0 Squared # 3: Female Sexuality


The guest this week is Holly Grigg-Spall. Grigg-Spall is a women’s health activist and the publication of her book “Sweetening the Pill” has made many, many, many people angry. Going against the common wisdom she argues that the pill is overprescribed and even dangerous to women’s mental health.

Music this week includes the work of Nik Walton. Nik is a contemporary composer from Portland, Oregon, a student of Tomas Svoboda, and a friend of mine. Nik is working composing theme music for this podcast and will be a regular contributor musically along with Dan Lett. You’ll also hear a harmonica version of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines from the you tuber MisterFinkMusic, clips from the 1979 sex education film Am I Normal, clips from an interview with the 20th century birth control activist Margaret Sanger, and Dan Lett’s musical doodle Green Sharpie.

Jasun Horsley appears for his usual liminalist rant, this time on the subject of Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy.

Citations from above:

Gynecology could be said to have been founded on misogyny. Gynecology arose in the latter half of the 19th century, during a time when women’s sexuality was thought to make them ‘mad’. Gynecology was founded amidst claims that women were deteriorating and that doctors could help them. Physicians believed that masturbation, orgasm, the use of contraception, and abortion were all symptoms of mental illness and starting in the 1860s, surgical treatment of psychiatric disorders was common.

Because women’s organs were thought to cause insanity, the obvious cure was to remove them.


One in 3 American women will have her uterus removed by the time she turns 60.

in nearly 38 percent of those cases, alternative treatments weren’t attempted before the hysterectomies. And in 18 percent of cases, pathology reports indicated that the hysterectomies weren’t medically supported.


many women are getting their breasts removed for no good reason — meaning that such decisions are often not based on sound medical judgment but more on the basis of other factors, such as a woman’s income, the training of her doctor and where she lives.


The rate of bilateral mastectomy increased from 2.0 percent in 1998 to 12.3 percent in 2011, an annual increase of 14.3 percent.

Compared with breast-conserving surgery with radiation, bilateral mastectomy was not associated with a mortality difference, whereas unilateral mastectomy was associated with higher mortality.


Women diagnosed with unilateral breast cancer are increasingly opting for bilateral mastectomy, but a study of nearly 190,000 women shows no survival benefit with this aggressive approach.


Dr. Gareth Evans, who studies medical genetics and epidemiology at the University of Manchester, said the phenomenon could reflect the strength of Jolie’s image as both glamorous and strong. It took the taboo feeling away from both the testing and procedure.

“I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”

The researchers found that in June and July of 2013 — immediately after Jolie’s announcement — referrals for genetic testing increased 2.5-fold when compared with the same period in 2012, from 1,981 to 4,847.

Angelina effect:



2 thoughts on “Zer0 Squared # 3: Female Sexuality

  1. The pill needs to be replaced with the pip (of the yew tree). The church hid “the abortion tree” in plain sight , by building churches next to ancient yew trees. Now, very few people remember that the seed from the dastardly fruit of yew was once used by women as way of controlling who they had children with and when. A morning-after pip, if you will. The Tree in the Garden has now been fully mythologized and it’s been forgotten, mostly, that the tree was, is and always will be a very specific tree … Yew. The tree of life, death, and knowledge. The supreme balancing agent and the only hope for healing the collective and individual gender rift. (Period?)

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