The Vivian Stephens library “complete and unexpurgated”

Vivian Stephens is best known because she started the Romance Writers of America, although as far as I know, she had nothing to do with their recent meltdown. She also donated her library to Bowling Green State University. You may remember the Bowling Green massacre. Or not.

This is even more remarkable because she did it while being black and female, and also just happened to start the genre of “ethnic romance”.  She is also credited with making romance fiction steamier and of bringing the novels “behind the bedroom door” which was taboo at the time.  I have to admit that the last time I picked up one of these things, something by Judith McNaught I seem to recall, I was quite shocked at the content. Nothing at all like the old Harlequins and Silhouettes, which were all the same: girl meets Bad Boy, girl falls in love with Bad Boy, girl discovers that Bad Boy has socially redeeming qualities after all, they get married, the end.  Oh no, in the new romance fiction, they are doing Stuff, and even more shocking, they are doing Stuff outside of their social class.  And they still live happily ever after.

In any case, two summers ago the RWA donated a collection of books that were hers when she worked at Dell and Harlequin.  The Bowling Green library has a nice page for The Vivian Stephens Collection along with a bio for  Stephens, along with the book list, a catalogue with some 57 listings. Here is the first page. The one that really caught my eye though was the last one on the list, The perfumed garden of the Shaykh Nefzawi / translated by Richard F. Burton (from the French and published by Isidore Liseux in 1886), the listed author being “ʻUmar ibn Muḥammad, al-Nafzāwī, active 16th century“.  You all know what that means. Yes siree, Public Domain.

We are not talking about the Richard Burton who married Elizabeth Taylor.  No, it was the earlier one, Sir Richard Burton, an Arabist in the great British era of Arabists, the one who translated Arabian Nights, and who made a pilgrimage to Mecca in disguise. I have been hearing rumors of some forbidden work for ages, and here it is, dropped into my lap like a ripe plum. Now to find the texts. The obvious translations first:

The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight
(Arabic: الروض العاطر في نزهة الخاطر Al-rawḍ al-ʿāṭir fī nuzhaẗ al-ḫāṭir) )

Also known simply as “Nefzawi” (النفزاوي).

  • WikiSource (English) (Arabic – incomplete – Commons PDF)
  • Internet Archive (English- The perfumed garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui : a manual of Arabian erotology :by Nafzawi, Umar ibn Muhammad)(audio)(Arabic – النفزاوي الروض العاطر في نزهة الخاطر)
  • Hathitrust, The perfumed garden of sensual delight = ar-rawd̲ al-ʻât̲ir fı̂ nuzhatiʼl khât̲ir / by Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nafzawi ; translated from the Arabic with a short introduction and notes by Jim Colville, Published 1999, Author Nafzāwī, ʻUmar ibn Muḥammad,  Limited (search-only)
  • Hathitrust, Le jardin parfumé du cheikh Nefzaoui :manuel d’érotologie arabe, XVIe siècle. 1910, Edition limited to 495 copies.
    “Réimpression conforme à l’édition publiée en 1886 par Isidore Liseux.”
    Translation of: Rawḍ al-ʻāṭir fī wa-nuzhat al-khāṭir. full view.
  • Hathitrust, al-Rawḍ al-ʻāṭir fī nuzhat al-khāṭir[microform] /li-Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Nafzāwī. Wa-yalīhi Kitāb al-Īḍāḥ. Arabic, Tūnis : Maktabat al-Manār, [19–?], Followed by his Kitāb Īḍāḥ fī ʻilm al-nikāḥ (p. 64-end). Limited search only.
  • Google books, Harvard College library. (English) Read online.
  • Arabic, read online or download PDF.
  • Arabic, introduction in plain text, download PDF.
  • Le Parfum des Prairies (Le Jardin Parfume) 1860, 1935 reprint (BnF) Read online.
  • Auteur(s) : Nafzāwī, Muḥammad ibn ´Umar al-  Voir les notices liées en tant qu’auteurTitre(s) : Cheikh Nefzaoui [Texte imprimé] / traduit de l’arabe par monsieur le baron R***, capitaine d’État-Major…; Publication : [S. l.], 1877; Description matérielle : 1 vol. (X-284-XVIII p., [14] f. de pl.) : ill. ; in-fol. Read online. Illustrated.

Forced marriage

If you could choose between your genitals or your education, which would you choose?

Globally, one in every five girls is married off before age 18.

But girls like Kakenya Ntaiya are rejecting this practice. “I grew up in rural Kenya. The traditional way of life for girls was to undergo female genital mutilation in preparation for marriage at a young age,” she told UNFPA. “I escaped child marriage and fought for my education.” She went on to establish Kakenya’s Dream, a nonprofit organization that uses education to empower girls and transform rural communities.

On this Valentines Day, while some of us in privileged countries are browsing online fashions for our amusement,  the U.N. is focusing on child brides.  The Wikipedia article for Kakenya Ntaiya was nearly deleted before it could even get off the ground.  Her organization, the Kakenya Center for Excellence, is still a red link, in spite of plenty of refs, including National Geographic, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the woke and edgy Teen Vogue, which continues to defy reports of its demise.

The Kekenya Ntaiya article unfortunately does use the term “circumcision” instead of “female genital mutilation”, which BTW has a most excellent article written and politely but very firmly maintained by the talented and scary SlimVirgin.

Lebanese marriage law protest

The article for Sudanese child bride Noura Hussein, whose death sentence for killing her forced husband was overturned last year, is now in four languages.

There are probably a lot of other ad hoc organizations and individuals we are not yet aware of, but to my knowledge no one has done any meaningful inventory of the field. Legal reform in Lebanon has stalled, for example.  The law in Lebanon allows rapists to escape prosecution if they marry their victims.

The hashtag is #IDONT.

Twitter bans Kristina Harrison

If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?

Now that Our James has defected to Twitter, he is going to be blamed for everything that goes on there, including this.

Wikipediocracy is already blaming him for getting rid of the Congress Edits Twitter bot, which was actually shut down much earlier, during the Kavanaugh hearings when someone used it to publish private information from HR files about Congressional staff members.  Someone was already arrested for the data breach, but unlike the bot that tweets out Canada’s edits, the account is still down.

So here’s what happened.  And oddly enough, these events seem to be centered around Manchester.

Kristina Harrison was banned from Twitter after tweeting that “sex and gender are not the same”.  Harrison is a British National Health Service employee who was born male but had gender reassignment surgery some years ago. The UK Times article is behind a paywall, but you can read the shared article here.

Harrison does not believe in the slogan “transwomen are women”, and says that “the two groups cannot be regarded as the same because they have different biology and backgrounds.”

As it turns out, this is part of a debate that has been going on for a long time in England.

There is a reddit for it (where I found the “share” link).

A course by the group Mermaids was recently dropped from the website of the Royal College of General Practitioners, a professional body for family doctors,  after they concluded it was pushing children towards gender reassignment (hormones/surgery).

There is a petition asking Stonewall, a British LGBT rights group, to reconsider its transgender approach, that already has 8,223 signatures.

And there is this Twitter thread

“Bookmark the hell out of this thread.”
(You should be able to click “Show this thread” on the Sarah Delore text inside the box, and get the whole thing to unroll.  ) (which doesn’t seem to be working here as an embed, only as a link)

Last summer Kristina Harrison spoke to the group A Woman’s Place, , about a proposed law on self-identification, in spite of a bomb threat..


From the video:

  • “Why is there no controversy about trans men in men’s spaces? Are men less bigoted than women?”
  • There is a sub-group of men who identify as trans because they fetishize women’s clothing
  • Alex Drummond, therapist, “There are no legal bars to a woman having a beard“.
  • Christopher Hambrook, sexual predator jailed after claiming to be ‘transgender’ to assault women in shelter
  • Dr. James Cantor, clinical psychologist: “60-90% of children who identify as trans, stop doing so after puberty, and most of those turn out to be healthy gay and lesbian young people”
  • Interviews with individuals de-transitioning  (b/c they regretted the irreversible decision) uncovered other factors in their decision to transition that the health care system was and is not able to uncover because regulations: unresolved childhood abuse, hidden gay or lesbian issues, mental health conditions

So I don’t know about you, but if someone doesn’t want me to hear a particular speech badly enough to threaten to bomb it, that is exactly the kind of speech I want to hear.  This is it.

Gambia bans FGM

Gambia_(orthographic_projection_with_inset).svgThe Gambia has banned female genital mutilation, oddly enough during their election season.

The issue would seem to be straightforward, but as usual, it’s complicated. For starters, it is traditionally one of the few ways women–especially older women–have of making money, as a midwife sort of thing, in a job that can not be easily usurped by men. For another thing, Muslim imams and clerics have sometimes been recruited to help in the effort to educate young people about the dangers of infection and complications of childbirth.

The Wikipedia article on FMG has been recently updated and was a featured on the main page in February.


Girls and teen sexting

From 12 Reasons Why Gender Matters to Understanding Teenage Sexting (Ignoring for the moment the “12 reasons” number in the clickbait title):

  • More than 50% of kids admit to sexting, and 28% share photographs.
  • 75% of kids who send naked images believe it will go no further than the one they send it to
  • One in five sexters, male and female, report being coerced into sending sexual messages.
  • Boys are between 2 to 3 times more likely to share sexts without consent.
  • Sports teams are often at the heart of sexting scandal rings.
  • A 13-year-old boy knows he can sell, for $5.00 a pop, pictures of his eighth-grade girlfriend.
  • Boys are trading girls’ images like baseball cards, barely even looking at them.
  • Families and schools often hold girls solely responsible when sexts are shared without their consent