Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rehearsing Our ABCs

Ahh, nothing says HAPPY NEW YEAR like a Conservative blunder. In this case, the fact that mere weeks after electing a new Parliament, and in the middle of a "prorogued" Parliament, right- wingers are already chanting the praises of reopening the abortion debate.

I've said many, many times before that this debate is as old as time itself and rarely, if ever, constitutes an actual debate. At this point, there's nothing left TO debate. That dead horse has been flogged for years.

Well it seems that the head cheese of the Conservative party, Canada's own PMO, had a brain wave once again and shot down the rumours of "re-opening" the abortion debate.

*phew*

There have been many, many outcries from the Left about this, but I wonder where they are were on election day. Didn't they hear the ABCs (Anything But Conservative) cries? Or maybe our numbers (ie: the lefty digits) are too low. Or maybe most of us, left, right and centre, are way too apathetic to care.

Can I blame them? Not really.

But truthfully, if there's a "debate" that could use re-opening, I say we attack capital punishment. Judging by the knee-jerk commentary on most news sites (CBC.ca and GlobeandMail.com in particular), "every-day" Canadians are wanting to go there. And those two sites are supposed to be bastions of lefty-thinkers, so imagine what the right-wingers are cooking up! And it's a debate that we haven't had in quite some time, so why not? Could be interesting. Maybe. Maybe not. But at least we're shifting the focus away from fetuses.

All I want for 2009 is to never have to write the words "abortion" and "debate" again. Let's see how it goes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Importance of Being Earnest

In case you and your cat haven’t heard, Oprah Winfrey weighs 200 pounds. Yes, that’s right. I said it.

Now I know this, not because I adore Ms. Winfrey but because it’s on the cover of her latest issue of O Magazine. It’s not just a sub-heading on her magazine but a full fledged screaming headline with a picture of her now, juxtaposed with a picture of her “then”. Then being when she wasn’t 200 pounds, I suppose. And the whole issue at hand is “how she let this happen again”. *cue horror music here*

Now let me start off by saying that I freakin’ love Oprah. Honestly. Genuinely. I’ve been watching her show religiously since I was a kid and although I don’t agree with everything she does or says or the people she endorses (I’m looking at you, Dr Phil), I still adore her.

So when I first saw that headline, and the subsequent stories about it, I thought WTF?! Who cares?! Oprah Winfrey is rich, successful, an incredible philanthropist and damn good at her job. So why does it matter what you weigh? And hasn’t she been flogging this dead horse for years?

But then I start thinking about what made her so successful in the first place. Mostly, her hard work and honesty. And she’s made an entire career out of being herself, being open about her faults and strong points and “self-improvement”. So in that case, I guess this plays into that quite well. She’s being honest about her weight problem (something she’s done from the start) and in many ways, just calling what everyone is saying.

Then I flip again and think that it’s so sad that someone as successful as Oprah Winfrey is constantly diminished down to her weight. As though what she weighs (or rather, how she looks) defines her success or lack thereof.

And this is reinforced by reading the Globe and Mail discussion boards, talking about this controversial cover story. Comment after comment after comment talks about how “She’s so rich and can afford all the trainers, self-help gurus and chefs in the world. Clearly she’s lazy and narcissistic” or “Wow, what a sloth” or “I hope she can afford all the medication she’s going to need” or my favourite, “She ONLY weighs 200? She looks way heavier than that!”

Which not only shows the lack of intelligence from most online posters, but also the real stigma and fixation that this society has on body weight and image. Oprah Winfrey made her career out of being “Just like every other womyn, just with better shoes” and yet we expect her to buy her way into a “perfect body”. While at the same time, hating on womyn who have gastric by-pass and/or cosmetic surgery because they’re “fake”.

So do I think that Oprah needs to be drawing attention to her weight again? I want to say no but she opened up that can of worms long ago so she can’t go back. Plus, according to her, the article is about demonstrating the realities of trying to maintain a “healthy” weight and that nobody, even the almighty Oprah herself, can succeed all the time.

I suppose this goes to show that she’s succeeded in being just like every womyn because even she can’t escape the wrath of impossible beauty standards.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Creeps and Cameras

Let us take a break from the chaos and confusion of Canadian politics to shift gears to..

Upskirting.

Ahh, “upskirting”. Which for the uninitiated, is when someone (typically a dude) uses a cellphone camera (or real camera, if they can manage) to take a picture up a womyn’s skirt/dress. Upskirting has become an umbrella term for also taking pictures down someone’s shirt, or just a general picture of their body in a sexual way.

The “key” to quality upskirting is going unnoticed, so these creeps pretend to send a text message or even just keep the thing hidden and snap away while you’re walking up the stairs, sitting on the bus, bending down in a store, etc.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Especially when they post it online for the world to see. Put “upskirt” into Google and you’ll see what I mean. Entire sites dedicated to the stuff.

A recent article in Salon magazine outlines the legal ramifications in the US of A and how the laws, like the pictures themselves, aren’t very clear.

Most places have laws allowing anyone to take a picture of anyone “in public space or domain”. But like the article says, its one thing to take an artistic photo of pedestrians crossing a bridge and it’s another to take a grainy photo of someone’s ass.

Upskirting is a HUGE problem. I know people who do it. I’ve seen people do it and I can guarantee that someone’s done it to me. But how will I ever know? There are millions and millions of these pictures online and I don’t have time to go through them all. And besides, how will I even know if it’s me? And then when I find the pictures, then what?

There are little to no legal ramifications for this type of thing in Canada.

My issue about upskirting goes beyond that, though. Upskirting is like construction-worker-harassment to a whole ‘nother level. When I’m walking down the street and some asshat yells something at me or honks, I see them, I flip them off and I get pissed off.

But in today’s world, womyn are walking around and being monitored 24/7. And often times, have no idea. Foucault is rolling in his damn grave.

The fact that this exists and is such a huge phenomenon is reason number 81789032 for why I’m a feminist. If you needed any more proof that womyn are objectified and commodified, then you’ve got it, Buster.

I’m not saying that dudes don’t experience street harassment or that someone isn’t taking pictures of their asses either. Hey, I’m sure it happens. But the numbers don’t even compare. And so it’s about more than just the fact that North American womyn wear skirts/dresses and men typically don’t. It’s about the fact that time and time again, womyn are viewed as ready for the taking and that if they don't like it, they have to do something about it.

So what do we do? Do we call a moratorium on dresses in the summer? Ban cellphone cameras? As the Salon article outlines, upskirting is such a problem in Asia that all new cellphones have a loud and distinct shutter noise that goes off with each click, to alert people that a picture has been taken. Should this be mandatory for all new phones?

Will anything really solve the problem? I’m sure there are things that can be done but until womyn are seen as human beings with all the rights and responsibilities allocated to you know… human beings, I don't think a whole lot is going to change.

UPDATE: Thanks to MH for the heads-up about this case. It's mentioned in the Salon article above but this article lists the details. I'm giving a major trigger warning to any readers of this article.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Canada, Communists and Cry Babies

As a political junkie, I'm a tad overjoyed by the sudden interest in Canadian politics. The left (ie: The NDP and Liberals) are wanting to join together to overthrow the Conservative Minority. They have the numbers to do it apparently and the Bloc won't join but have given their written approval. So it all comes down to a confidence vote next Monday and a decision by the always-elegant Michaelle Jean.

And Canadians are abuzz. For or against, they are abuzz. And I'm digging it, I really am.

And I could go on and on about this coalition business but everyone else has, so I'm gonna shift the focus. I'm gonna shift the focus to where I think it should of seen a hell of a long time ago.

Some Canadians are bitching and complaining that "We elected people for a reason and a coup wasn't it". Well last I heard, I also elected adults and yet all I get is a bunch of whiny children.

Let me demonstrate.

First: We have the hyper paranoid Conservatives who recorded a "secret" NDP meeting where they talked about this infamous coup. Of course, the recordings are now being considered illegal because well.. they are but bossy boots Harper is marching all proud that he really stuck it to 'em. Sure Bud, whatever you say.

Second: The Conservatives have begun referring to the "Left" as "power hungry", which you know.. is hilarious because it's Harper. Like, I squash-civil-liberties-for-breakfast Harper.

Third: The Conservatives are also referring to the "Left" as "communists" and "seperatists". How very 1950s of you, sir.

Especially since, as the Fourth example demonstrates, it's rather ironic that Harper played himself out as the Quebecor Prime Minister who recognized Quebec as a "Nation" and now that they're not getting along, he's throwing that old school label at them. Fancy.

Fifth: Well Harper flat out outdid himself today. This one really makes me happy. Not only did he call this new Coalition the "Alliance of communists and seperatists", he also made a comment about they are so anti-Canada that they were photographed signing this agreement without any Canadian flags in the background. Which you know, is pretty fucking immature and very "well...well.... I know you are but what am I?" to begin with. But then add on the fact that there were actually two Canadian flags in the background and you've just made my day.

Stay classy, Canada. Stay classy.

Instead of focusing on whether or not parties have a right to form this damn coalition, I think we should be questionning some people's ability to even be an MP in the first place. Most of the behaviour these people demonstrate isn't even acceptable for kindergarten kids.

I think it's time we learn to play together in the sandbox.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Has Anyone Checked Hell's Thermostat?

Canada might have a united Left.
The US will have Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

*and the peasants rejoice*