Sunday, September 30, 2007


There's a story of intense complexity emerging out of Manitoba right now.

It's incredibly complicated but what I wish to focus on here is this: A former soldier, who had served in Bosnia, admitted to having sexually assaulted a 14 year old girl upon his return to Canada. He was let off without jail time because his lawyers argued that he suffered from post-traumatic-stress disorder (Good o'l PTSD). Now, they are ordering a new trial because apparently his previous lawyers had failed to prove that he did in fact suffer from PTSD. So right now there's a re-trial.

This case is important because it's the first time someone successfully used war-related PTSD as a defense and won. This is important to note because:

In 2003, an Alberta judge rejected PTDS as a defence for a former soldier who rammed his sport-utility vehicle into a military office and assaulted a military police officer.

Now... I have many many critiques of the medical model of care, especially in issues of sexual assault. But those are for another time and another day. My issue here is hum...

- Man comes back from war, rams his car into a military structure and assaults an officer and this is deemed NOT RELATED TO HIS TIME AT WAR

- But, buddy sexually assaults his friend's 14 year old daughter and that is deemed completely related to PTSD.

Someone stop this train wreck and explain that to me.

Now I'm not naive and I do know quite a bit about PTSD and even more about the critiques of it (mostly how it's a giant umbrella term thrown over everything that ranges from war to incest). But I have a really, really hard time understanding how this guy was able to prove that going to war, and in this case Bosnia which relatively speaking, was pretty tame for the Canadian soldiers, made him sexually assault an innocent Canadian girl. Especially considering the events he said led him to become so scarred for life are now being dis-proven. Buddy didn't even have proof that the events he claimed made him go loco even occurred.

This case is so unbelievably complicated. Did he, in fact suffer from PTSD? Can PTSD make you sexually assault someone, considering the trauma this man claims to have been suffering from was not in fact sexual in nature? As in, he didn't suffer PTSD from ritual abuse or incest, he witnessed the desolation of Bosnia. And if he did suffer from PTSD and it was (although I highly doubt it) the reason for his assault, who's responsible? The Canadian government for sending him there? The military recruitment office, for encouraging him to be there in the first place?

Who is truly responsible in this case? And is that what even matters?


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Not just for Gramma's candy dish

When I think of the colour pink, I think of those round pink mint candies that used to reside in my nanna's crystal candy dish. You know, the ones that taste like Pepto-Bismol? Well now, the colour pink has taken on a whole new meaning for yours truly.

Two male high school students heard about a grade 9 student at their school who got picked on for wearing a pink polo shirt the first day of school. The usual male target insults of "fag" and "pussy" because pink is for the ladies only, don't you know? Not content to stand back and let the homophobic (and misogynistic) insults fly, they decided to take action.

The next day, they showed up with 50 pink shirts and handed them out to students all over the school. They decided to take a stand against bullying and no doubt, the kid who was bullied was overwhelmed at the outcry his abuse was getting.

Alright, this story is the shit on its own. Hello awesome! However, it gets better because the story has caught on and schools all over are having "Pink Days". And I mean, let's face it, it's a brilliant idea. It's cheap, easy and something that doesn't require much work or resources. One simple action creates a ripple effect and sets a tone for bullies out there.

Of course the cynic in me is bitter that there's no direct gender component to this activism and no challenge to the idea of pink = womyn = bad, but baby steps I say, baby steps.

And here you were, thinking I was Debbie Downer who always focused on the negative. *tisk* *tisk* I say.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Screw the night, let's take back everything!

Tonight is the annual Take Back the Night March here in Canada's capital of O-Town. And it's a damn good thing. Because one look at the local newspapers makes me sick to my stomach.

- We have the trial of a Nunavut womyn who was sexually assaulted when visiting Ottawa.

- We finally have a suspect in the gang rapes of two university students at York University.

- We have a strange turn of events where the investigation into one student's vicious stabbing death in Toronto uncovers the story of a grade 9 student who was sexually assaulted.

- We have a 15 yr old boy on trial for viciously murdering a 14 year old Montreal girl.

- We have the trial of a man who ran an underage prostitution ring.

- We have the crown seeking the "dangerous offender" label for a teacher who has sexually assaulted his young female students. This is not the first time he is being charged with this crime.

We have a new composite sketch in the murder of 7 month pregnant Kelly Morrisseau.

Oh and just yesterday, two womyn in separate instances were abducted and sexually assaulted in Ottawa. And, we're still looking for the scumbag that sexually assaulted and left for dead a Carleton University student.

And yet people question why I am a feminist. They question the Take Back the Night March. Myself, I question why we're settling for taking back the night. Logistically, only 3 of the above cases occurred at night. In the case of the womyn abducted just yesterday in Ottawa, a 14 year old girl was abducted at 7:45Am in front of Parliament Hill.

So tonight, I shall march side by side with others who understand that THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

What time is that you ask? Election Time of course!

Usually we are hounded with ridiculous attack ads and broken promises. But this year, all that jolly good stuff is drowned out by the debate on Muslim womyn. Yes, muslim womyn.

Now usually I would say "YEAH! Womyn are making the issues during election time!" but alas, not this time around. Instead, there has been a hell storm of a recent decision by Elections Quebec to allow Muslim womyn to keep their faces concealed while going to the polling stations. This inflamed o'le Stevie Harper and he shot back that it was against Parliamentary rules, it reduces the democratic process, same rules for everyone, etc.

He claims that his biggest beef is that everyone else has to show proper ID and so why the preferential treatment? Well, apparently Mr Harper isn't totally aware of the rules himself because you can vote through the mail, which obviously doesn't require that you show your face, right? So when it comes to this issue, Harper is obviously not wanting to keep the rules equal for everyone, he's just not content with lady folk. Muslim lady folk in particular.

However, believe it or not, this isn't my issue here. What strikes me the most is that this story is everywhere. Everyone and their neighbour (and their neighbour's blind dog) is getting in on this story, reporting it like crazy. Yet hum... anyone think of asking Muslim womyn what they think? Well after hunting and hunting, it was the beloved institution that is the Canadian Broadcasting Commission that came through for me.

Sarah Elgazzar, spokeswoman with The Council on American Islamic Relations Canada says only a small number of Muslim women wear the niqab or burka, and they have never asked for special treatment, Elgazzar said.

Afifa Naz, an engineer in Montreal, wears a niqab but uderstands there are situations in which she must unveil. "This is not something we demand," she told CBC News. "We can accommodate the needs of society while practising our religion." Naz said she's always taken off her niqab to identify herself before voting, and also removes it when passing through airport security or border crossings.
Oh and the best of all,

The majority of Muslim women in Quebec don't wear niqabs, and none are on record as asking Elections Quebec for the right to vote without showing their faces.
So let me get this straight: Muslim womyn who wear burqas and niqabs, the womyn in question in this situation, had no problem with the status quo but everyone else apparently felt like their opinion meant something. Apparently, the white man knows more about Muslim womyn's needs than Muslim womyn themselves. So they created a shit storm that is now affecting everyone but helping no one.

My head hurts.
I never thought I'd say this, but I miss tacky attack ads. At least their lunacy and lack of importance was blatant.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Men: No Uterus But Plenty of Opinions

I think it is rather evident at this point that I am 100% pro-choice. Access to safe and legal abortions are something I feel is uber important evidently but I understand the complexity of the issue and how you just can't bring it up without morality poking its lovely head in. One of the big issues surrounding abortion is the role of men. Overall I think dudes should butt the hell out because you'll never have a uterus so it isn't your place. And quite frankly, the overwhelming majority of anti-choice leaders are of the penis wielding variety (and most often associated with Jesus somehow).

So I tend to shy away from any spotlighting of men + abortion because it usually = feel sorry for the poor poor man who can no longer legally control his partner's body. However I just stumbled upon an amazing article online that really sums up how I feel about the role of men in the debate.

Basically this article made me realize how all the bad freakin' apples ruin it for the great, supportive and loving pro-choice partners who understand the enormity of abortion and want so badly to be there 100% for their partners. Because of zealot dirtbags, they are marginalized to the sidelines and ignored. Because of abusive and cohercive men who force abortions upon their unwilling partners or the anti-choice dickweeds who violently protest at clinics, men in general are written off in an attempt to protect womyn who are seeking abortions.

I am in no way advocating the victimhood of womyn nor the victimhood of men. This is in no way an attempt to take the spotlight away from womyn and place it solely on men. But as a feminist, I think it's important to recognize genders plural.

And of course, as a feminist, this article made me realize how harmful sexism and gender sterotyping truly is. Constructions of femininity and masculinity have taken power away from womyn in their decisions over their bodies and have forced men to keep quiet about their feelings.

Thank you AlterNet! Although the majority of your articles are hypocritical and they are all eventually taken over by crazy extremist commentators (this article no exception), you actually managed to present an insightful and well balanced article. My feminist heart swells in appreciation.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Please check your bags and your style

This story has been circulating all around the net and the news, as it should be.

Basically this 23 yr old womyn boards a flight to Tucson and is told to get off the plane and change because her clothing is offensive. I have posted a picture here of the womyn in question. She refused, saying that she was only going for a day flight and had no change of clothes, so they made her re-adjust her clothes before taking off. Oh, not before they also gave her a speech about proper attire.

I think it goes without saying that the entire incident is ridiculous. I understand that you need to wear clothes to board a plane, because nude bits are offensive apparently and blah blah, but she was wearing clothes. Wasn't something I would wear but STILL. I dress like a hobo from Value Village so whom am I to judge?

What's struck me the most about the media coverage of this issue is the fact that they always emphasize that she was wearing a bra and that she's a Hooters waitress. Who gives a rat's ass?!

A- Must womyn legally wear a bra?

B- What does her occupation have to do with the fact that the airlines humiliated her in front of an entire flight for last minute fashion advice?

If Sunwest Airlines wants to start being the fashion police (or morality police), they should go after those who wear socks with sandals. That is a real crime.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I know what you're thinking

"There she goes again with her ovary obsession". Yes, it's true. I like my eggs. But I can't help it if they keep popping up in the news lately!

More than one in three Canadian women wrongly believe the new, much-hyped HPV vaccine will prevent ovarian cancer
Which is pretty terrible on its own. The poll goes on to show that the majority of womyn confuse ovarian cancer with cervical cancer and falsely believe that pap smears will detect ovarian cancer. There is obviously mass confusion going on in the area of female genitalia.

The commissioning of the poll was great, in my opinion, because it indicates that public education is a must, especially with the mass inoculation that is going to occur shortly for womyn. However, the poll and the article that accompanies it fail to hit the root of the problem.

Womyn are not encouraged to know their own bodies. I can see you rolling your eyes already, but I'm telling you: it's true. And this is painfully highlighted in the article.

The CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada (who is a doctor) uses terms like "cancer down there" and "below the belt". Hum... it's called a vulva, or vagina, or labia, or ovaries, etc whatever the case may be.

But if people whose job it is to study female genitalia are too embarassed to use the right terminology, how do you think 16 year old Sally is going to feel about asking questions or raising concerns about her sexual and reproductive health? It is no wonder that womyn are so confused and uneducated.

We need to start a revolution. A vagina reclaiming revolution! Who's with me?