Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Run! There's AIDS in the air!

Today is the National Day of Action for the protesting of Health Canada's recent decision to ban gay men from donating organs. Health Canada's latest provisions ban all sexually active gay men from donating organs as they live "high-risk lives". Translation? They're here, they're Queer and they're all HIV positive. Apparently. Keeping in mind that Canadian gay men are also prohibited from donating blood.

This is pretty shitty on its own. But how about a little context?

Between January and October 2007, 50% of HIV positive cases in the city of London, Ontario alone were heterosexual womyn. (Source: saqd.net)

Meaning? In case you lived under a rock for the past 20 yrs (Or work for Health Canada), the HIV is not a gay disease. In fact, new reports show that because of the myth that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease, heterosexual lady folk are contracting it at higher rates, thinking they are not at risk. As a heterosexual lady folk myself, I donate blood all the time and am on the organ donor and marrow list. And yet, I've never been asked by a doctor if I've had anal sex, which is what is the actual root of the discussion. It's not gay men, it's anal sex. And yet, age old stereotypes are not only increasing the rates of HIV in Canadian womyn but they're also discriminating unnecessarily against gay men.

All this is going on while

According to the Canadian Organ Replacement Registry Report, in 2005, more than 4,000 Canadians waited for an organ transplant while less than 2,000 organs were retrieved for transplant.

People are dying while waiting for organ donation and the government is giving healthy gay men a hassle. Yes, it is not an outright ban against gay men donating organs, but there is a lot more red tape involved. And in the case of blood donation, another necessity in Canada, gay men are outright banned from donating. How ridiculous.

We live in Canada. A country with excellent medical facilities and technology. Technology that screens all potential organ and blood donations for disease. The same could and should be done for gay men who are wanting to donate.

Canadians are dying for organs and blood because of age old stereotypes regarding HIV/AIDS.

Oh and in case this whole banning business wasn't tragic enough for you,

An Ontario judge is at the centre of a misconduct investigation after insisting a witness who is HIV-positive and has Hepatitis C don a mask while testifying in his courtroom.Three groups have complained to the Ontario Judicial Council about the conduct of Barrie judge Justice Jon-Jo Douglas, who later moved the case to a bigger courtroom in order to create more distance between the witness and the bench.
Because you know, that's how you catch HIV/AIDS. It's an airborne disease, didn't you get the memo? Apparently Judge Douglas did. Which is a relief really, because the position of judge is the highest paid profession in Canada.

I need a drink.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lullabies for Sexist Criminals

Sometimes, I'm rather naive. I read that a Canadian womyn successfully sued her Meth dealer and thought "Good Lord, the courts can't get any worse than this!" Oh, how I was so, so wrong.

Crown prosecutors are currently attempting to have sexsomnia declared a mental illness. Sexsomnia is pretty self-explanatory. Apparently some people sleep walk and well.. screw. They get out of bed, completely unaware and boink somebody (or something).
The reason why this is in the courts is because an Ontario man sexually assaulted a womyn and then claimed that he was suffering sexsomnia and had no recollection of the event. Yeah. Pause on that one and read it again. Done? Okay, let us move on.

Luedecke alleges that during a party at a Toronto home in 2003, he got drunk and fell asleep on a couch.His lawyers maintained that while Luedecke was in a dissociative sleepwalking state, he went over to a woman who was sleeping on an adjacent couch, lifted up her skirt, put on a condom and began sexual intercourse with her.

Okay.. it clearly states that he was drunk. Now maybe he doesn't "remember" because he was three sheets to the wind? Or maybe it's just a convenient goddamn excuse? Yeah, I'll choose option B for 500$ Alex.

I'm not a psychiatrist or a Crown prosecutor, but I am a support worker who works with sexual assault survivors and I can tell you that these kinds of bullshit excuses are used all the time. Mostly because there's way too much evidence to disprove that it happened so they come up with some kinda crap story about being asleep, too drunk to remember or in some sort of trance.

Who exactly is our justice system protecting?

Seriously. This is 2008. In Canada. And we're going to declare sexsomnia a mentall illness? This is such a slippery slope. We acknowledge that and then we'll be acknowledging "Your honour, I was listening to some really intense Backstreet Boys music and I just got so into the music, I couldn't help myself". Give it a year. It'll happen.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Skinny on Fat

I don’t need to tell you that fat is a problem in North America. Let’s face it, we’re chunky. And statistics after statistic (legitimate and otherwise) indicate that we’re tipping the scales more and more everyday. Hell, all you need to do is turn on the TV for a whopping 5 mins to get inundated with North American fat culture.

Fat is everywhere. Literally and figuratively. I know it, you know it, we all know it. First, the questions were “Who and what is to blame?” Let’s face it: North Americans eat shitty and don’t exercise. We’re sedentary fat asses for the most part.

We started off by blaming the fast food industry and beauty industries. The academics, activists and thinkers of the world are now talking about the way in which we’re now blaming the obese for well… being obese.

All the latest body image experts are chatting noisily in the latest journals about “fat shaming” and there’s a movement within feminism who call themselves “Fat Activists”. Reclaiming the so-called fat body. Add them to the list of medical experts who say that genes really do play a large part. (“Do these genes make my ass look fat?”) All these folks believe that shaming the individual fat person isn’t doing a damn thing for them or society as a whole.

These discussions came to a loud rumble recently when airlines in Canada announced that they would give an extra free seat to obese flyers. The logic? The seats are considered too small for the average person, so it’s practically impossible to stay comfy if you’re obese.

This of course raised a giant firestorm of controversy with people saying “Hey, it’s their fault for being huge, let them suffer!” My initial reaction was much the same, to be honest. Mostly I thought of my 6’7 sibling who is forced to duck and hug his knees everywhere he goes but nobody ever gave him a discount. And he was born that way!

Although I quickly changed my mind on this one when I read an editorial which pointed out that an extra seat for the obese benefits greatly the poor sap who was stuck sitting beside them in the first place. I imagine it was rather uncomfortable for them too.

So where do we go from here? We blame various industries for weight-gain woes but there’s a new set of industries cropping up to service the obese. Extra-large coffins, for example, is a big industry now. Should they be grouped in the same category as Burger King or are they simply… moving with the times? Should we supersize our coffins and MRI beds (as we are doing now)? Or is that enabling?

Are individual obese people to blame or is it the culture? Capitalism? Genes?

When pointing the chunky finger of blame, who should be the accused?