Sunday, December 13, 2009

Captain Obvious Strikes Again

You can also file these two stories under "It's about fucking time".

First, Canada is now finally proposing new rules for the live-in caretaker program. For those of you who are unaware, the Live-In Caregiver Program is one of the few ways that womyn are able to immigrate to Canada and the system is incredibly exploitative. The rules and demands on the womyn are incredibly high whereas those who are enlisting their services have very little to no monitoring, rules or necessary criteria.

Womyn come to Canada through the Program and have to live in an employer's home for what used to be 2 years and then they can apply for residency. This is obviously putting womyn into precarious situations where if they are subject to abuse, exploitation or neglect by their employers, they often have no means or resources to get out because they need to maintain steady work in order to be eligible for residency. These new proposed regulations would mean that womyn have up to 4 years to complete the 2 years of work. "In addition, they will no longer have to undergo a second medical examination when they apply, and employers wanting to hire a nanny from overseas will have to pick up the travel costs and provide medical coverage until they are eligible for provincial health plans."(

I generally think that Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney is a Grade-A douche but this is good and long overdue, news.

And in news that is so incredibly surreal, I still haven't quite processed it yet, "P.E.I. will soon have legislation allowing medical professionals to apologize to patients when something goes wrong without worrying it could haunt them in court."( Currently, it seems, in P.E.I, if a doctor apologizes for something, it's considered an admission of guilt in court and will screw them if they are sued for malpractice.

I'm not naïve to the ways of the legal system, which often runs completely contradictory to common sense but Geez Louise... The fact that politicians are spending time on a Bill like this rather than other important things like, you know, Climate Change, poverty, violence, etc. is mind-boggling. You hear shit like this and no wonder people have completely tuned out of the political world. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that this is finally going to be enacted into legislation but the fact that it even needs to happen is 10 levels of sad.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Apples Meet Oranges

Transcript from today's Question Period.


Nicole Demers (Laval, QC, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister responsible for Status of Women refused to denounce the unacceptable statements made by a Conservative MP who implied that abortions contribute to the development of breast cancer. Besides being wrong medically, this assertion is meant to make women feel guilty. We would expect that the minister would defend women and the right to abortion with vigour rather than saying things worthy of Sarah Palin. When will the minister stop protecting the dinosaurs in her party to the detriment of women's right?

Hon. Helena Guergis (Minister of State for Status of Women): --Very clearly in the house yesterday, this member is actually fully aware that there are elected members in this house who have said very similar things at different times. Members in this house represent their constituencies and they are free to have any opinion that they choose to. It does not mean it represents the government. But please let me highlight one of our most recent achievements to protect women across the country. Recently we revised our citizenship guide. I would like to recognize the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for the great work he's done in specifically outlining that barbaric practices like female genital mutilation are not tolerated in Canada.


This is ten levels of wrong.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So Many Stories, So Little Time

It’s been an incredibly interesting news day, today. So interesting that I could easily write 4-5 different posts. Instead, I’m going to do a round-up for you.

“Calgary Family Negotiates Homework Ban” – Headline pretty much says it best. A two child household was tired of spending hours on what they saw as “busy work” and so they negotiated with the school to only have them be marked on work they do in class. I think occasional homework is fine but only in high schools. Children need to be engaged in life and homelife in particular and so I say, go Calgary family!

Better family planning could curb climate change: UN”- A new report by the UN Population Fund suggests making condoms and other family planning services more available will help combat global warming by reducing the world's population. Sex education around the world needs some serious, serious love (pun fully intended) and so whatever the reason, I say bring it on.

“Florida snowbirds take risks with HIV: study” - One more time with feeling, we need better sex education. A recent study has found Canadians age 50+ have skyrocketing rates of HIV, in particular those who vacation in Florida for the winter. The reason being that many of them go down to Florida and live the swinging single life, getting it on and being carefree without protection and thus end up with HIV. The rate of condom use for this age group is dismal. But part of the reason is that if you don’t get quality sex education when you’re young, you probably won’t get it all and yes, people over 50+ still get laid.

Add on that most people only use protection to avoid pregnancy and you’ve got menopausal womyn thinking “I don’t need protection now; I’m good to go!” They’re good alright; at getting the HIV.

And finally,

“McGill anti-abortion student group suspended” - Now, let the record state that I fully support an anti-choice organization's right to express their viewpoints. FULLY. However, in the case of McGill and other similar incidents, the anti-choice organizers were willfully spreading medical misinformation and postering campuses with graphic images in places where people had no choice but to see it. In McGill’s case, after many complaints from students, the McGill student association has suspended their official club status until they can reach some sort of resolution with the student council. Squashing freedom of expression? Not in my view.

Mmmmm.... Controversy, Part II

So back in May, the Governor General created an international raucous when she ate raw seal meat at an Inuit ceremony in the North. Canadians, including myself, applauded her while anti-seal hunt folks were up in arms.

Well, let’s put one more point towards the seal hunt camp because Parliament’s fancy, mucky-muck restaurant has added seal meat to the menu. This new item will join already existing meats like beef, pork and bison.

It’s a seemingly small gesture but it’s very impressive when you consider how controversial the whole issue is.

Once again, Michaël Jean for the win!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Racism is Child's Play

A new study looks at how aware children are of racism. And their conclusion?

By age 9, children are well aware of the existence of racism. "I think that would be surprising to many people, that by second or third grade a lot of kids get it, they get that there's racism in the world and they understand what it is", says one of the researchers involved.

Probably not surprising to the 9 year old kids who are the target of racism and prejudice...

Female Ski Jumpers vs. The IOC

So I've already hashed out on here my opinions regarding the Olympics. But I will say again that I want to believe in the Olympics because having been an athlete most of my life and coming from an athletic family, I really do believe that sport has the ability to bring people together.

As a feminist, I've also seen the way girls/womyn getting into sport helps them build self-esteem, often (but not always) improve their self-image and learn life skills like how to be a team player, sharing and the importance of losing as much as winning. Important stuff.

And so even though I have mixed emotions about the Olympics, I've got very strong feelings about the International Olympic Committee shutting out female ski jumpers. Apparently, so does the BC Court who have actually stated that the IOC's decision to not allow female ski jumpers is discrimination however it is not within the jurisdiction of the BC Courts to change the IOC's position.

So Canada will be hosting Olympics that they know full well and have admitted go against its Charter of Rights and Freedoms and yet, the show must go on. Keeping in mind of course that the Olympics are being held on stolen Native land, but that's another story completely (according to the Press).

I call bullshit on the whole thing. The female ski jumpers have shot down all "reasonable arguments" for their exclusion and they're still not allowed to compete. Oh and I also call bullshit on the language being used in so many of the articles on this. Just as I think ski jumper Lindsay Van was out of line for comparing the International Olympic Committee to the "Taliban of the Olympics", I'm also sick and tired of people referring to adult womyn as "girls" and "ladies".

Monday, November 9, 2009

News Roll

In surprising news, a reserve in British Columbia is hoping to become “delisted” and remove its Indian Status.

In mildly surprising news, talk show host and Media empire Goddess Oprah Winfrey might be switching her show to her own new television station. This means leaving Chicago and no longer being accessible to the general public (since her station is not offered with standard cable).

In not-even-remotely-surprising news, the Catholic Church is not changing its stance on priests and celibacy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Snot Rags and Stereotypes

Let's play a little game, shall we? It's called "Guess What's Wrong with This Picture!"

The offender? The Kleenex "Get Mommed" Marketing Campaign (Warning, besides being incredibly offensive, it also takes a long time to load. Dial-up readers, be warned).

A) It's sexist. It perpetuates stereotypes of womyn as mothers and fails to recognize that fathers can "mother" i.e PARENT as well.

B) It's racist. The finger waving black womyn, the affectionate latina mother, the overbearing Eastern European mother. It's all there.

C) It actually fails at marketing the product. What the hell does this have to do with tissue?

D) All of the above.

You be the judge!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tobacco... again.

Tobacco companies knew cigarettes were bad for you long before the information was made public.

Shocking? No

Shitty? Absolutely.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

All the Single Ladies, Put Your Hands Up

I'll admit to being one of the first people to cry bullshit about the H1N1 hysteria. I think pandemic fears are largely overblown and I am highly, highly sceptical of the new H1N1 vaccine. I also think that there’s been nothing but mass confusion about all this flu stuff in regards to what causes it, how it’s transmitted, what it will do to you and hell, even what the symptoms are. People are getting conflicting information left, right and centre.

As cynical as I might be, I am intrigued by the latest study that shows that of those admitted to intensive care units (ICU) for H1N1, 67.3% were female. The average age of ICU patients with H1N1 was 32.

This flies in the face of previous ideas that only the very young and very old were dying or being seriously afflicted with the virus.

They haven’t been able to pinpoint why womyn in particular are so affected. Unfortunately, it is no surprise to me that aboriginal womyn have the highest rates of H1N1. This is no shock when you consider the dismal quality of life that aboriginal womyn have in this country when it comes to a whole list of things.

But why females as a whole are so affected by H1N1 remains to be seen.

I’m a pandemic sceptic (and hope that I’m not proven wrong) but I’m very intrigued and disturbed by this latest data.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smoking Out Big Tobacco

The Province of Ontario is joining British Columbia and New Brunswick in suing the big tobacco companies in order to recover money they've spent on tobacco related illnesses/deaths.

Now before I go on, let me establish a few things.

1- I am incredibly anti-smoking.
2- I have never smoked a day in my life.
3- I know and love people who smoke.
4- I know and love people who have suffered serious side effects (including death) as a result of tobacco.

And yet I'm left scratching my head about this lawsuit.

The Province is suing for 50 billion dollars; an amount they say they've spent on treating tobacco related illnesses since 1955. I actually think that amount is too low. I also think that people have known about the adverse effects of tobacco since 1975... So there's a 20 year window where personal accountability doesn't really come into play because people were just rolling with what the scientific data at the time was saying, which was that it wasn't that bad. Hell, even doctors were advertising the stuff!

So for that 20 or so year window, the tobacco companies knew it was bad but people didn't and so I understand that there's a serious accountability issue there.

But where's the personal accountability after that? What about between the 70s and now?

In our Health Care system, being the public system that is, we don't formally discriminate against illnesses. By that I mean that if you're suffering serious emphysema and you've been a- pack-a day smoker, the Health Care system can't say "Oh well, that was stupid, now deal with it on your own"; they've got to do their best to help you. So I understand that the Health Care system is stuck between Big Tobacco and Consumers. And I also understand that the Health Care System is you and me and everyone else living and paying taxes in Ontario. So it's my money that's being spent on big tobacco's side effects.

BUT it's also the Government, both Federally and Provincially, that monitors and governs the rules around Big Tobacco in this country. And so it seems incredibly short-sighted to be benefiting from the taxes and sales of tobacco, and then at the end of the line, suing them to recuperate the amount you've spent on the side effects in between.

The Government of Canada, in general, has such a backwards way of looking at the tobacco industry, much like alcohol and gambling. They benefit up front and then bitch about the after effects; after effects which were clearly foreseeable.

And suing Big Industry to recuperate what is essentially our money just doesn't seem like the right way to do it. Sure it looks incredibly aggressive and anti-corporate and therefore has a nice Erin Brockovich, David and Goliath vibe to it. But upon closer look, it just comes off as greedy and corporate as Big Tobacco itself.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kicking the Habit

So the Vatican is doing an internal review in the United States. Reviewing what?

First thoughts: Child molestation, rampant homophobia, misogyny and racism.

No? No takers?

Nope. The Catholic Church is doing its first ever major review of… nuns?

They are conducting a “large-scale review of women's religious institutions in the United States, the first of its kind in history.”

My next thought turned optimistic, thinking that perhaps the Church was interested in re-examining the role womyn play in Catholicism and as nuns in particular.

They are examining this exact thing, but are hoping to step back, rather than forward, on the issue. Basically, the Church thinks that nuns have “stepped away” from the Church, are not living in communities (i.e.: convents) as often as they should be and are living “secular” lives. The goal is to put together a report that will bring 21st century nuns back to their roots of being in habit, living in convents and living a “stricter” religious life.

Having grown up Catholic and having actually attended a non-private, Catholic school run by nuns (which included a convent within the school), I have an educated opinion on nuns. I do not begrudge anyone’s choice to join the Convent. In the most objective sense, the life of a nun is one of serving. Churches and religions of all kinds have typically stepped up to help the homeless for example and many, many charities are religiously-run. The Salvation Army is religious, after all. Nuns also serve(d) as school teachers and work(ed) in hospitals. Hey, Mother Theresa was a nun, let us not forget.

HOWEVER, they are always serving someone. And they are always below someone else. Nuns serve the Church and the Church is run by men. Therefore, the “vocation” of nunnery is inherently sexist. In Catholicism, womyn hold no position of powers that rival those of men. Not to mention that being a nun means agreeing to the homophobia, racism and sexism of Catholicism. (I am stating this in the assumption that one chooses to be a nun. I am excluding those who are forced into religious life, obviously. That’s a whole other picture to paint).

So on one hand, I think it is unfair for me to pick on one individual nun, but I also don’t think it’s fair to let all nuns off the hook either. If you’re promoting hate, then you’re promoting hate.

BUT! I think it goes without saying that if anyone should be undergoing a review, its priests, cardinals and actual leaders in the Vatican. To say that the Church is in need of a review and to ignore the blindingly obvious issues and choosing instead to focus on the American nuns is shady and so indicative of how out-of-touch the Church really is. In case you needed any more proof that the Church is sexist and misguided and in need of an overhaul, this review is it.

The report, compiled by a Sister, will be submitted to the Vatican in 2011. It is up to the Vatican (read: male leaders) discretion on how to move forward after the report is compiled.

Who knows, maybe the nuns will do a preemptive strike and revolt. One can always dream...

Friday, September 11, 2009

REAL Sexual Assault Prevention Tips

I shamelessly yoinked this from No, Not You. which I only found out about because of a dear friend. Thanks K!

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

Doesn't this seem like the most logical way to approach the issue?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


So in a twist of painful irony, someone else has been charged with drinking and driving in Quebec.

The womyn, who had 4 small children with her in the car, was charged 2000$. "She is also on probation for a year and has had her driver's licence suspended for the same length of time and her car has been impounded for 30 days." (CBC)

I realize that longer sentences are not necessarily a deterrent but they do send a message and in this country, when it comes to drinking and driving, our current message is "slap on the wrist".

Once again, I call bullshit.

I Call Bullshit

Man with 19 drinking and driving convictions and 114 prior convictions is not a dangerous offender... apparently.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kids, Cars and Drive-Thrus

Back in the summer of '08, when summer was actually hot in June and we weren't contemplating building an Ark, I wrote a post about drive-thrus and how they are slowly murdering Mother Nature. I chalked them up to laziness and couldn't understand how anyone could see them in any other light.

Well, I stand corrected.

There is an excellent Blog post on the Ottawa Citizen website where a womyn (and mother) responds to the story of another mother in the Ottawa area who left her child in the car during 42 degree weather. Yes, 42 degrees. Then she left the car unlocked, which in this case was a positive thing because someone was able to retrieve the baby. The mother then came out and accused the other womyn of having kidnapped her baby. Oy vey! THEN it was released that the womyn was inside getting herself some ice cream.

I know.

So a journalist for the Citizen wrote a really interesting blog post about how she praises drive-thrus for helping mothers get things done while not having to leave their babies in the car or taking forever and a day to take the baby out and then putting the baby back in. This is particularly tricky if you've managed to get the baby to fall asleep and then you have to wake them to pick up a coffee. Even things like paying at the pump of the gas station allow mothers to keep their babies safe and in eye sight, while making the whole process speedy.

An FC kudos to the womyn who used her common sense and saved a baby from a sweltering car.

And thank you to journalist Melanie Coulson for correcting me in thinking that drive-thrus only benefit the lazy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Because You Can't spell "Blame" Without "Lame"

Now it's time for my favourite part of the evening: The Blame Game!

First on the list, Carleton University and their epic fuck-up: "Carleton University Accused of Victim-Blaming"

Next up: "9 year old initiated sex acts, child molester claims". He claims that she came on to him and he didn't want her to feel "rejected".

And finally: A cab driver in the city of Ottawa has been charged with sexually assaulting a passenger. The driver claims the womyn, who had 10-12 beers before getting into the cab, "came on to him" and he didn't want her to tell his boss that he had failed to "please her". He was given a whopping 2 months of house arrest. The sentence was so low because the judge "considered" that "the sexual assault Majli was convicted of was not the most serious"' and because she was drunk, they couldn't "prove" that he had not only kissed her, but penetrated her as well.

And the winner is... The City of Ottawa! The Capital of Canada; bastion of all things democratic. Yet in the past 2 months, all of these amazing victim-blaming stories have come out.

Studying at night? To blame
Being a regular 9 year old in the presence of a child molester? To blame
Taking a fucking cab home because you're aware that you're too drunk to drive? To blame.

In the City of Ottawa, that's how we roll.

Knocking the Spoons Out of their Mouths

Having been involved in activism surrounding public education and in having spent 3 years marking the papers of undergraduate students, I very enthusiastically applaud Ms. Caroline Orchard.

Caroline is an Ottawa high-school teacher who is pushing for a removal of Ontario's current "no-fail" policy. "Accrording to the policy, aimed at improving student success, students who fail to hand in assignments or engage in plagiarizing or cheating are no longer awarded a mark of zero and must be offered one or more chances to recover their endangered credit." (Citizen)

Caroline and others are calling the policy out for how it may not be failing students in school but it sets them up to fail at life. There are no second, third, fourth chances in life. There are certainly no second chances in university or the corporate world. So why would we tell young people who are professionals in training that the world will wait around for them until they're "ready" to hand in their work?

Having been a teacher's assistant in an Ontario university where naturally, most students are Ontario grads, TRUST that this policy has serious, serious effects.
I'm constantly fighting against the stereotype of youth being apathetic and entitled because I'm constantly dealing with engaged and interesting youth. But the reality is that most aren't and quite frankly, can you blame them? They've spent the last 12+ years being told that they call the shots.
So a major FeministCatalyst KUDOS to Caroline Orchard. In being involved in this type of activism, I understand that speaking out from within the system itself is not always welcome and easy. So here's hoping other people jump on board and support her on this.
Although internet petitions are not recognized officially recognized by Government, they are still good at sending a message. So if you think that spoon-feeding Ontario youth has nothing but detrimental effects, sign her petition.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Update on Judge's Comments

My statement that sexism is alive and well in Canadian politics still stands but here is an interesting development in the story of Ms. McLeod.

So, were Ms McLeod and Jane Taber just looking for an opportunity to plug themselves? Or did they honestly believe that's how it went down?

I don't know but it's interesting nonetheless and ultimately, unfortunate because it feeds into the anti-feminist rhetoric that womyn "play the gender card" when things don't go their way.

For the record though, let it be known that FC still very much believes that sexism is rampant in politics, at every level.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Old Boys Club, Indeed

In case you really didn't believe that politics was an Old Boy's Club that was less than keen to ladies, here's more to convince you otherwise.

An Ottawa Conservative MPP had her evidence dismissed in the trial against Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien because, and I quote, "the defence was able to demonstrate that there were a number of rather significant things going on in her life when she gave her statement to the police. … ” “She was commuting regularly to Toronto for her work, leaving her husband and child in Ottawa". (source)

To add insult to injury, this dismissal was overlooked in the reading of O'Brien's sentence of not guilty and according to the MPP in question, her supporters were hard to come by. Once the news became public however, Equal Voice and others came out to dismiss and criticize the 69 year old judge's decision.

I'd add comment on this but I think it's rather obvious at this point: The idea that evidence from a female politician is invalid because she was busy being a politician AND a mother when she gave her evidence to police is beyond fucking insulting; it is sexism in the purest form. It is the reason why so few womyn enter politics and it is the reason why Canada is far from the beaming democracy it claims to be.

So if you still need evidence to believe the sexism in Canada's politics, there's no hope for you and you might as well join the commenters of the original Globe and Mail article. They are spewing such "clever" quips as "To all of the male posters here, every had a woman tell the truth in divorce court? Story is settled." (Great use of the word "every" kept from the original posting).

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Good: Article remembering Eunice Kennedy Shriver, member of the Kennedy dynasty and founder of the Special Olympics, who passed away at the age of 88.

Bad: Same article referring to the intellectually and physically disabled as "mentally retarded", "retarded" or "suffering from mental retardation".

Reuters = Fail

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mark My Words

And the war on womyn continues. This time in Pittsburgh, where a man entered a fitness facility and opened fire. A website, said to be in his name, stated his hatred for womyn and his wanting to target them specifically.

But come December 6 when people across the country mourn the 1989 Montreal Massacre, you wait and see how many op/eds will claim that Marc Lepine was one crazy bastard and in no way an indication of society as a whole.

Friday, July 24, 2009

And now for some made-up news!

Canadian readers will be familiar with a case in Kingston right now where a father, mother and son murdered three members of their family plus the father's first wife.

Newsworthy? Absolutely.

I'm holding off on commenting more specifically on this case because the details have yet to emerge and I'm sick of the xenophobia around it. Let more credible information come forward and then I will discuss it.

Do you hear that I know you desperately want to improve the traffic to your site/TV show/radio shows but when you start making stories out of nothing just to keep things flowing, and you're losing credibility.

Headline reads: Canal-death charges stun Montreal neighbours.

Really? You think? This would only be news worth if the neighbours weren't surprised. There would be a story in that case. If they weren't surprised then maybe there would have been signs, more people coming forward and the whole thing could have been prevented.

This story, much like the kidnapping/murder of Victoria Stafford, is being dragged in the media with "journalists" interviewing neighbours and the like for no other reason than to add sensationalism to the story.

If you are the neighbour of someone who was murdered and you are not surprised that said person was murdered or that your neighbour had a part in it, then please come forward to be interviewed. I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Journalist David Cullen refers to it as the "Columbine Effect". The massacre at Columbine High School was the first big moment when anybody who knew somebody, who knew somebody else at Columbine was considered a "witness" or someone worthy of talking to. He blames new technologies and the increase in media coverage. Basically, every student that came running out of that school, whether they saw anything or not, were interviewed and instantly broadcast around the world.

The result?

1- Misinformation spreads like wildfire. There were several shooters, there was one shooter, there were hundreds murdered, there were a few, etc. No consistency here because people who were clearly in shock blurted out a few lines and suddenly, it was fact.

2- Increased sensationalism. Victims, witnesses or even random passersby would provide a few lines or a lengthy discussion on the issue and one line of it would be broadcast as this earth shattering revelation of sorts. Often it was never a big deal in the first place or it wasn't even true. Think: the worst game of telephone ever played.

Although this might not seem to directly relate to the coverage of the latest murders in Canada or even the murder of Tori Stafford, I believe it does. I believe they are all part of the same new "journalism" where actual facts may or may not be important and the relevance of something is rarely measured.

The saddest part of all is that people are buying it, literally and figuratively. So it's up to us all to stop wanting to be a part of the show and to stop buying into sensationalist media. Although we live in a society doused in instant gratification, the world doesn't operate that way. Give it time and the truth will eventually come out. But it probably won't come from you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And now, for some good news!

Good news is so few and far between in the world lately. Or in general really, when you're the type to be concerned about social justice.

But it appears that David is slowly slaying Goliath in at least one department.

Some Canadian consumers have learned the valuable lesson of each purchase being a vote. Combining that with a new resurgence of environmentalism and smart eco-thinking, consumers have made a big enough push for local products that grocery stores in Southwestern Ontario have de-listed themselves as "Sobey's" chains and joined a co-operative.

Reason being? Sobey's existing policies discourage and outright deny owners the ability to buy local products. Since consumers were asking and the demand was clearly there, they said screw The Man.

They are now seeing success in sales AND helping Mother Nature.

Now doesn't that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Muckraking in the Name of Ovaries

I'm a frequent user of my local fitness club. I like my gym but as anyone who has used a gym before knows, it has very little to do with health and a lot to do with physical appearance. Gyms are all about making money and in order to do that, they bombard you with images of so-and-so after they hired a trainer, or TRY THIS MUSCLE MILK AND YOU'LL BE GIGANTIC, while blasting 46 different televisions playing Cosmopolitan TV and various sports channels. It combines "You Can Do It" with "Because you're a fatty!".

The other day, while attempting to use the washroom, I sat down to face an advertisement. Now ads in washrooms are not unique to gyms, obviously. They are a nuisance in most public washrooms nowadays. But the ones at the gym are almost always related to appearance or "health". This particular ad, which I'm presuming is only in the womyn's washroom, has a giant picture of an empty ice cream container that says "Want to have fewer periods?" followed by the "FIND OUT HOW AT"

Oh Goddess...

So I went home and checked out (I encourage you to do the same) and went back to my journalism roots to do some digging.

Turns out *surprise surprise* is hosted by an unnamed "Research Based Pharmaceutical Company" and the way to get less periods is through hormonal birth control. The Pill.

Now anyone who has been on the Pill, which in North America includes most hetereosexual womyn, knows or has heard the Old Tales about how you just take one pack of pills right after the other to skip your period. Nothing all that new here.

But this website is particularly interesting because it uses and re-uses imagery of food (.i.e.: PMS cravings) and makes the focus less on the usual anti-period stuff of crankyness, physical pain, lack of swimming/sex options and turns it into "Have Fewer Periods So You Have Fewer Midnight Triple Chocolate Oreo Cookie Cravings".

Which is something that the website cannot back up because it is false. Although taking hormonal birth control to date your periods and/or taking pack after pack will time and/or delay your period, it will not change your body's desire to jonse for cookies. It has been proven to possibly diminish in some people but it's not an instant cure.

There is a strong school of thought who believe that skipping any period at all is bad for your body. Unfortunately the reality is that as long as you are on the Pill, you will never have a "period" in the truest sense of the word. To be blunt, you can't drop an egg when you're on the Pill so you're having a "Pill Period" as they say and not an actual one. However, that doesn't mean that your body reverts back to being 10. You're still going to have hormone fluctuations because that's what keeps your bones good and strong, thickens your hair, etc.

So the first thing against this whole "TAKE THE PILL AND DROP THE COOKIES" approach is that it's not entirely accurate.

Another thing that is problematic it is that hormonal birth control is being marketed as this pseudo health option and dare I say, weight loss option. The latter of course is a bit of a stretch and kinda hilarious considering that most hormonal birth control pills make people gain weight.

But with the ads juxtaposition of the empty ice cream pale with the Pill, it makes it seem as though one can be cured by the other. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a picture of said ad online, but the website is full of food imagery, including a smiling Gingerbread.

And finally, the website and campaign is also problematic in its so-called attempt to be "neutral" regarding other forms of birth control.

See the website does not mention what pharmaceutical company it works for and so it is attempting to be an "information site" that is neutral and not about marketing a certain product. For this reason, they include this one section "Is the Pill Right For You" which has the legally required information regarding risks of taking the Pill and a sub-section entitled "Non-Hormonal Options". This section's intro:

"Non-hormonal birth control options will not change how often you have your period, meaning that they cannot be used to lengthen the time between your periods. Though most of them have been proven to be less effective than hormonal birth control, non-hormonal options may be right for you. Except for the non-reversible methods and the IUD, these methods must be used every time you have sex. The male condom and female condom can be used with hormonal birth control to help protect against sexual transmitted infections (STIs)." (Source)

Yes, these forms of Birth Control are less effective than hormonal based birth control but most don't cause blood clots, can be used by people over 35 safely and will not put your life at serious risk if you're a smoker. Oh and hey, most will make sure you don't get HIV! Which is, you know, pretty freakin' important, too.

Oh and it's also interesting to note that the tiny words in the disclaimer (for which you need to click onto a seperate site to find) explain that all the "claims" made throughout the website only apply to the United States. Which is pretty interesting considering it's Periodslessoften.CA

But it's obvious that the folks behind "Periodslessoften" are not concerned about sexual health as a whole or a womyn's health in particular. What they are for is the promotion of menstruation as an evil, an evil that will make you want cookies! Which will make you fat! And then, undesirable! And if you're undesirable, then you won't get laid! And then if you don't get laid, you won't need birth control! Ah! The tyranny!

Now I do not wish to diminish the very painful reality of many, many womyn who have excruciating menstrual pain, endure debilitating side effects or who are in dire need of menstruation regulation. However, if you are one of these many womyn, the reality is that doesn't really care about you anyway. They care about the bottom line and sorry honey, but you ain't it.

Now I'm not knocking takers of the Pill because everyone has their own reasons and the reality is that hormone based birth control is the most effective form of birth control (except for abstinence but who are we kidding?) What I am knocking is pharmaceutical companies who market things inaccurately under the guise of "neutrality".

Let's just call a spade a spade, shall we?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is Bruno a No-No?

As a lover of politics and humour, I have a soft spot for satire. I love satire. I love comedy in general, really. But I've found myself in more than one conversation with people about the merits of comedy as a tool of activism.

I've decided that yes, only people of a certain group can mock said group and no, that is not "reverse racism". It's just the reality that in order for something to be reclaimed, it has to take its power from the marginalized group. Otherwise, it's just racism. Now exceptions can be made if you're a well known ally in a certain community; see Kathy Griffin for example. She identifies as straight but is also considered a gay icon and therefore can drop bombs that would be seen as homophobic in another context. The reason being that she's gained the respect of the GLBTQ community, has supported, donated, etc for years and therefore is an ally and not some hillbilly making bad jokes. (Her jokes might be bad, to some, but they're not homophobic).

But what about satire? The big question about satire is:

When is it satire and when is it just stereotyping?

Jon Stewart's The Daily Show = Satire
Stephen Colbert's entire persona = Satire (Sorry Right Wingers; he's on our team)
The Simpsons = Satire

But then it gets tricky. What about Family Guy?

In having these discussions with various people, it seems that the measurement of whether something is satire or whether it's simply stereotyping is to look at both the creator and the audience.

Seth MacFarlane, who created "Family Guy" is also the mastermind behind "American Dad", a clearly satirical cartoon. Which would make one assume that Family Guy is in that category too, but then, I look at the Family Guy audience.

Most Family Guy audience members are not hispters, ex-academics or yuppies. Or even politico junkies. The Family Guy audience is high school dudes. Which is not the pigeonhole all high school aged dudes as being incapable of being down with satire. But "Family Guy"'s following is what troubles the issue for me.

Basically: If it's meant to be satire, but people take it at face value, is it satire anymore?

Ironically enough, this issue has come up in the last few days regarding (in my opinion) brilliant satirist Sasha Baron Cohen. SBC is the genius behind "Da Ali G Show", which consisted of him putting on various characters and then taking them to the streets, so to speak. Ali G was his first big character and since he wasn't exactly that different, nobody really paid any attention. But when SBC gave his one character "Borat" his own movie, then people started paying attention.

"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" was a huge success in North America. In promoting the movie, SBC stayed in character a la Colbert style. Not only is the guy a brilliant satirist, but he also has amazing timing. North America and the US in particular was really focused on the Middle East upon the release of "Borat" and so SBC attempted (I'll come back to this attempt piece) to highlight how Americans viewed Middle Easterners. The joke was not on people from Kazakhstan but rather on the reactions of real-life people to a Middle Easterner, in the film itself.

BUT! Like "Family Guy", if you don't get satire, then you take the movie at face value and see it as a crazy guy from Kazakhstan who can't speak English and hates Jews. And if that's what you're laughing at, then is it satire anymore?

Sasha Baron Cohen is running into this problem again with his new movie "Bruno" which is based off another "Da Ali G Show" character. This time the character is a flambouyant gay stylist from Austria. Considering Proposition 8 and the opposing Proposition H8 campaign in the US and how it's highlighted GLBTQ folks in the US of A, Sasha's timing is impeccable.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in the US of A is upset with certain scenes they saw in the pre-screening of "Bruno". These scenes, they say, cross the line of satire and are outright stereotypical; therefore the joke is on them and not the homophobes. But where's that line?

Coming back to the original descriptors of creator and audience, SBC is clearly a satirist and the hope is that the majority of people who see "Bruno" will understand that Sasha Baron Cohen is playing a caricature composed of stereotypes, therefore highlighting the lunacy of these stereotypes rather than promoting them. Like "Borat", the hope is that the viewers will laugh at the homophobic and outlandish responses that "Bruno" gets, rather than siding with said homophobes.

But what if they don't? Does it matter? Do the intentions of the creator matter if the audience takes it in a different direction? It's hard to say.

Although this might seem like a hipster's diatribe, I do think it's important. I think comedy has an important role to play in making social commentary and political commentary in particular. For example, one can't underestimate the role that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert play come election time. Rick Mercer, to a lesser extent, has that effect here in Canada. But their roles have been clearly established; their respective shows are so heavy on politics that they would naturally only attract audiences that are into that, too.

But what about Family Guy? Or hell, The New Yorker?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Federally Funded Journalism at its Best

Anyone who follows my blog here knows that I'm a pretty die-hard reader; it is typically my biggest source of news. But were it not for my years of dedicated reading, I'd throw in the towel on the whole thing today.

This lovely headline appeared on my sidebar today:

Others in Courtepatte case were suspects in prostitute's death, documents reveal

(Trigger Warning)

As someone who studied journalism, there is so much wrong with this picture.

1- This case is not exactly well known and so simply using a name like this does not conjure up an instant recognition for people.

2- If you're going to use the name of one victim, why not use both? Oh yes, because apparently "prostitutes" are not people; they're just prostitutes.

The entire article is convoluted, confusing and needs a major trigger warning. The article goes on to list all these "unproven in court" details that should leave the reader wondering "Why the hell are they even reporting this then?" The details are gruesome and even if they were proven, are completely unnecessary and inappropriate.

The story itself is telling: A man is accused of murdering a 13 year old girl and in a separate case, another womyn in Winnipeg. The man is described by police as a "serial homicidal sex offender" and also, an idiot. He was in custody for the luring/kidnapping/sexual assault/murder of a 13 year old girl but mixed up the details of that murder with the then-unknown murder of another womyn.

If you're going to write an article about this loser and highlight this case, these are the only details one would need. By including the other horrific and graphic details, is pandering to the Perez Hiltons and "National Inquirers" of the world and I call bullshit.

This story on its own is one more example of the war on womyn in this country and around the world. But the way in which this article is presented further demonstrates the point, too. Which blows.

Stay classy, CBC.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fight for your Right to Party

Canadians might be apathetic, but as I've said before, they love their booze.

We don't vote and are generally lazy bastards, but don't take away our booze!

But in all seriousness, I think this doesn't just have to do with booze; I think it's generational, too. Pensioners, especially ex-union members, are tough as nails and don't get pushed around easily. They fight for their rights. Which is commendable these days, even if it's regarding beer.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


So my blog post yesterday still stands and I thank this article for re-affirming what I said.

Yes, Michäelle Jean, you are a whole lotta badass.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mmmm.... Controversy.

There are few things that I love more than food and controversy. Today, we get a meal of both!

So I have rather mixed feelings about the position of Governor General but I have very good feelings about this particular GG. I've met her on two different occasions and was really impressed with how knowledgeable she really is in the areas in which she throws herself into. She's incredibly warm and although not 100% genuine (By that I mean that you can tell that she's "on") she's pretty great.

But apparently, by eating a piece of raw seal meat while visiting the North, she's 10 levels of awful.

Seriously? Give me a break.

Never mind the animal rights activists who've been touting the "CLUB SODA, NOT SEALS" crap for years, critics across the Pond are saying that what she did was a political act and that the GG is supposed to do ceremonial acts only.

Let's break that down.

Political Part: It's only been deemed political because mostly overseas critics (I'm looking at you, McCartney) have viewed the seal hunt as political. Hunting animals as a whole is not inherently political. It's been going on forever and if I'm correct, the Queen herself is a big fan. Hence why she's got dogs!

Furthermore, people use the "Ceremonial Symbol Only" balogna all the time but the Monarchy is pretty freakin' political in itself and much more controversial than eating meat, I would argue.

So GG -1, Critics - 0

Controversial Part: Regardless of how it became that way, yes the seal hunt in Canada is controversial. Personally, I'm a huge supporter of the seal hunt but that is not the point here. Attending the Inuit ceremony/event was not deemed controversial but only when she ate some of the meat was it deemed that way. Okay... well what if she hadn't eaten the meat? What if she had been offered and then refused? What kind of controversial message would that send? It would certainly be a giant slap in the face of Inuit people and seal hunters, too.

Once again, GG -2, Critics - 0

As far as I'm concerned, seal hunting is an indigenous way of life and a huge economic boost to people living in the North and on the Canadian Coast. And until anti-hunting asshats can come up with a more environmentally friendly and sustainable means of making money, then they can shut the hell up. And leave Madame Jean out of it, too! If for no other reason than the fact that she has fabulous shoes and used to host one of my favourite shows.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why I'm Pro-Choice

It seems a little late for me to be writing this now, seeing as though I’ve been blogging here for a few years now. And reproductive justice should, I believe, be a goal for anyone who calls themselves a feminist. However, in having recently witnessed the large-scale “March for Life” anti-choice protest here in my adopted city, and therefore having been very publicly (and harshly) challenged on my view, I felt it important to spell it out.

I could make it snappy, à la Letterman and make it a top ten list, but I hope it doesn’t take that many reasons to make my point (and convince you).

I am Pro-Choice because…

1- I think bodily autonomy is a human right. I think that the right to control what one does and does not do with their body is a human right that should be accorded to all people. I think that once we take away someone’s bodily autonomy, we are going down a very slippery slope and quite frankly, I don’t want to see where it leads.

2- I think that pro-choice is the most democratic choice of all. As the old feminist adage goes, “If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?” I truly cannot understand how a democratic state/nation/territory/etc could have any other stance.

3- I believe that pro-choice is not pro-abortion. I know and love people who got pregnant unexpectedly and thought long and hard about their choices. In the end, they either chose abortion or they chose to keep the child. They weighed the options of adoption and in one particular case, seriously explored that option. But in the end, they chose what was right for them. None of these womyn regret their decisions. And I imagine that even if they did, they would have been grateful for the ability to choose what was right for them, whether they felt the same way about that decision or not.

4- Although I believe in the myriad of choices that the pro-choice stance includes, I am not naïve about adoption. Let me start off by saying that I know many people who are either adopted themselves or have siblings that are. I am a big supporter of adoption and an even bigger supporter of open adoption. I think adoption is one of many great choices for the pregnant womyn and the adoptive family. However, in speaking about adoption, I think it’s important to include a caveat about the realities of pregnant womyn and the adoption system. Anti-choicers are always quick to point to adoption as the ideal situation for an unexpected pregnancy. “You don’t have to raise the child and you are giving a gift to a family that is unable to conceive”. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And I’m sure it is for many, many people. Without getting into the pain and hardship that pregnant womyn must go through when deciding to give up their child to adoption (especially, I would argue, in closed adoption situations), I think the anti-choicers *surprise surprise* forget that choosing adoption is not as simple as giving birth to a happy awaiting adoptive family.

As a white, educated, able bodied womyn with a white, educated, able bodied partner, I am well aware that if I were to get pregnant today, I could have a wonderful, police checked couple (and possibly established family) waiting for me in 9 months to adopt my child. The truth is that people line up and wait years for newborn, white, able bodied children. If I were Aboriginal, disabled, uneducated, a substance abuser, etc, it is quite possible that my child would be in the “System” for quite some time before it possibly settled into a great home. Do I think this is fair? Hell fucking no. But by the same token, I don’t think it’s fair for me, as a privileged individual to make a broad statement like so many anti-choicers do, that adoption is a great choice awarded to all. That is not always the case.

5- One size does not fit all. Similar to the above point that adoption might work for me, but it might be a horrible idea for you. I might want an open adoption and seek to maintain some sort of contact with the child but you might need complete anonymity. I might have gotten pregnant through rape or coercion and you might have gotten pregnant in a loving and happy relationship. And so I’m going into my decision making with a different set of circumstances than you. Why should there be one cookie cutter solution for everyone?

6- It has been proven time and time again that when abortion is criminalized, womyn will continue to seek out abortion. And they’re not exactly getting prime care. Below are the number of people hospitalized for illegal abortions:

Bangladesh: 71,800
Brazil: 288,700
Chile: 31,900
Colombia: 57,700
Dominican Republic: 16,500
Egypt: 216,000
Mexico: 106,500
Nigeria: 142,200
Peru: 54,200
The Philippines: 80,100

7- I think that being anything else would put me in the crazy “pro-life” camp and those people are fucking scary. Need I say more?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

And in case you think "It's 2009, do we really need to acknowledge this stuff?", just ask GLBTQ folks in Moscow. Or the parents of two boys, in two separate incidents, who committed suicide because of ongoing homophobic school bullying. In a year that may have seen Justice for Angie,
there is still so much work to do.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Can I get a what - what!

"More women in senior roles boosts financial performance: study".

"Ironically, the current recession, a time when firms are seeking to find new ways to stay in business, is exactly when companies should be figuring out strategies to put more women into executive chairs, the report said."

Finally, I can write about the recession and tag it in the "Good News" category.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GG: 100 Years of Keeping It Real

So it seems that this is a mighty big year for girls.

First, we have Barbie's 50th Birthday. (Still looking fresh, might I add).

Now, we've got Girl Guides bringing in a new badge. (Stick with me, here). Badges are a mighty big deal in the world of Brownies, Girl Guides and even Scouts. You earn a badge every time you've demonstrated that you did something or learned something new. You can get badges for a whole whack pile of things, like learning to start a fire outdoors, sewing a button, learning to paint, etc.

Girl Guides have now announced that in a move to stay "relevant" and "progressive", they are releasing a new badge. Sounds less than newsworthy but hear me out.

"Girls aged five to 17 can earn the Love Yourself Challenge badge by completing three tasks that promote self-esteem, healthy eating and a positive body image." The badge features a super skinny stick person, a bigger one, a typical stick person and a heart.

I was never into Brownies, Guides or Pathfinders as a kid because I had to choose between dance class or Guides and the former won every time. It never really struck me as something I would be into, though. But lots of my friends were and they loved it. And the same time that a lot of my friends were getting into Brownies and Guides, my junior high had an entire day dedicated to anorexia and bulimia. A whole day. The reason being that for a small school in a small town, there were a handful of severe cases of anorexia. There were possibly more but living all up in people's business like you do in a small town, everyone knew about 2 in particular.

I mention this story because I never forgot both my classmate's love for Guides and that day of learning about body image. Both of them really stick out in my mind as events of my youth. And so to see that Girl Guides are picking up on this and being relevant to the lives of girls, is great.

I'm left to wonder however: Are body image issues this "new" that talking about them equates "progress"? In the 100 years of Girl Guides, have girls never struggled with their weight? Or is it a matter of it now being kosher to talk about these things in general, and at Guides in particular?

I don't know.

But I do know that this latest move will surely help girls.

So Three Finger Salute and job well done! Unless, of course, this new health kick at the Girl Guides headquarters means that they're canning Girl Guide cookies. If that's the case, there will be a revolt!

Oh and by cookies, I'm not talking about those Mint Patties. Those can go. I want the real shit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is there an Echo in the Building?

And the "C" word strikes again!

Keeping in mind that the source isn’t exactly impartial but, a Toronto lawyer has publicly come out in support of the increasing numbers of womyn who are being laid off while on Maternity Leave.

The excuse given? The economy.

Technically, it’s illegal to lay someone off when they are on Mat Leave. That’s the whole point; that you help society reproduce while we hold down the fort until you come back. BUT! If the company is “doing multiple lay offs” then its okay. And what is happening is that while womyn are away, the new person they hired in the interim is cheaper because they’ve just started and so the company would rather keep someone with less seniority than pay the rates of the womyn who left.


I guess the only solution is for babies to make and raise themselves. Well, we could socialize people to be equal partners in the child raising department and create child friendly work environments but the first solution is probably more likely.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Because You Don't Win Friends With Salad

A new study has found that when eating out and presented with a variety of side options (Fries, baked potato, salad) people opted for the fries more often than the salad.

The study was based on 100 college students who were presented with two different menus. When presented with the option of choosing the salad, they took fries instead.

This is a pretty big deal in terms of research because it flies in the face of the years of previous commentary from people that healthier choices are what's needed on menus. Hell, even McDonald’s has yogurt parfaits and apple slices now! Clearly the complaining has worked to get healthier options on the menu. But what these researchers are showing is that it doesn’t matter; people still choose crap.

There is a lot that can be chalked up for this. North America is a glutton society that loves its shit food. We should eat healthier but we don’t because we’re lazy, unmotivated, etc. Some people think that “healthy food doesn’t taste as good as nuggets and fries” hence their choices. And truthfully, if the words “healthy” always result in salad, then you can’t really blame people. It’s not really a choice. It’s either PICK ONE OF TEN AMAZING THINGS or SALAD. Maybe a variety of healthy food choices that don’t involve simply adding different types of salad is an option?

But I also think that it’s much simpler than that. In my opinion, when people go somewhere that sells “fries, chicken nuggets and baked potatoes” they’re not eating out to be healthy. They’re eating out for a “treat”; nobody goes to Wendy’s (which is a prime example of this type of menu) for salad. I say this as someone who loves the Wendy’s chicken salad and is terrified of their burgers. But I know that I’m not most people and I get that.

The people in this study were just presented menus and said “What would you prefer to eat?” When people choose to hit up Wendy’s or McDonald’s, it’s usually because they’re jonesing for a Bacon Mushroom Melt or a Big Mac, not chicken salad. If you wanted decent chicken salad, you’d go somewhere that specializes in chicken salad. Wendy’s is not this place.

Now if you have no choice in the matter, like you’re on a road trip for instance then you might be grossed out with so much take-out and choose the salad and apple juice choice. But the people in the study possibly hadn’t had take-out in a while and were thinking “Mmm… that’d be a nice treat”.

See what I’m getting at?

If you’re hitting up fast food, then you’re craving some fast food, something that you either wouldn’t or couldn’t make at home. The problem that I see, is if people always choose the shittier option, everyday. The key to fast food is not to demonize the stuff but to view it in moderation.

I went to McDonald’s as a kid and turned out okay. Why? Because it was a “treat”. We got a Happy Meal, we played in the ballroom; it was swell. If my parents had brought my ass there three times a week, different story.

And who knows? We’re dealing with 100 college kids here. They were probably recovering from 4/20 and were thinking FRENCH FRIES before the study had even started. It’s not impossible.

**A nice unhealthy donut to whomever can reference the blog title

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who Pays?

Mmmm... recession. It seems we can speak of nothing else these days. With good reason, of course.

Recession talk leads to the next big "C" word. (Not C-U-Next-Tuesday, you dirty kids) but cuts. Job cuts, budget cuts, tax cuts, etc. Everything is cut. It's a scissor fest these days. And without any real critical analysis, it would appear that the cuts are not discriminatory. Sure, they are in terms of class, because let's face it: It's Jim, Bob and Jane who are making the cars that are losing their jobs and not Robert So-and-So who runs the joint.

But the evil "c" word is also becoming a way to really conveniently "do away" with things that folks weren't too happy with to begin with.

Exhibit A: We've got Women's Studies at Guelph that has been chopped due to "budget constraints". Ahh yes, that other evil "c" word. This would seem like just another run-of-the-mill, aww-shucks cut if it weren't for the fact that "Cutting the Women's Studies program will save *less than 0.17%* of the University's predicted $46 million shortfall. And yet Women's Studies is the only program in the university that's slated to be cut." This was written in a petition to save the program; the program has now officially been cut.

You gonna tell me that this isn't just a wee bit suspicious? I'm not saying this is a full on witch hunt but when cuts are needed and the first thing to do is Women's Studies, which represents such a measly part of the total budget, one's gotta start asking questions.

Exhibit B: Oh Alberta! The land of bounty! Or not. Seems they're hurting in the Health Care department so they are making cuts, too. Massive cuts, it seems. Although there have only been two major cuts announced and they are *drumroll please*

Chiropractor services: Which will save them 53 million a year


"Sex Change Surgeries": Which will save them 700,000$ a year.

"The latter move has become particularly controversial. " No shit, 53 million vs. less than one million. Hmm...

I get that these will be two of many cuts but once again, you gotta start thinking this through. It's no coincidence that when the axe comes down, things like Women's Studies and sex re-assignment surgery are seen as disposable and easy to chop.

Women's Studies is chronically underfunded everywhere and in the case of Guelph, represents peanuts in terms of financing. Sex re-assignment surgery in Alberta, with only 26 people currently undergoing it and 20 people on a waiting list, represents such small numbers in terms of people and in terms of money, but represents so much to the livelihood of trans people that it makes no sense to see it go at this point. Unless there's a hidden agenda at play here.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I call bullshit on both the University of Guelph and the province of Alberta.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Attention All Students!

Today's lesson: Take a book out from the library for so long that it becomes an artifact, not a late fee.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Misdirected Anger

So I have purposely avoided discussing the "alleged" assault of popstar Rihanna by fellow popstar Chris Brown.

I've purposely stood back since the very beginning because I felt like it was not the place of people who are not involved to "weigh in" on what they think. Sure, the police report was leaked and so were photos of her bruised and beaten up face, but neither of these should have been released to the public in my opinion and asshole gossip bloggers should not have published them. But we still don't "know" the situation nor do we "know" them.

Rihanna is not even her real name. So what does that tell you?

I was particularly disgusted with people weighing in on the rumour (and yes, it was only a rumour. To this day, Rihanna has never issued a statement regarding the incident) that Rihanna "took back" Chris Brown and attempted to reconcile their relationship. Bloggers, journalists, talk show hosts and everyday people went ballistic on Rihanna, asking her what kind of message she was sending to "her fans", etc.

I refuse to comment on this aspect because it's a rumour and I don't know Rihanna or her situation/politics/feelings and so I am way overstepping my boundaries by casting judgement here.

I did appreciate how some commenters took this is as an opportunity to discuss teen violence and how this particular incident is but the tip of the iceberg. Teen violence is rampant and so rarely talked about. And so for people to take the discussion in this direction was a positive step, in my opinion.

But the reason why I feel the need to pipe in now is that I've officially snapped on the Judgy McJudgerson folks out there. Commentator, after commentator, after commentator was quick to point the finger at Rihanna for possibly having wanted to reconcile with Chris Brown, as I've stated above. People were losing their minds, totally ouraged and "disgusted" with her.

And yet, Chris Brown turned himself in to police, issued a statement admitting that he was involved and was just in court last week to plead not guilty.

So, when people decide that it's their business to get involved in the business of others, why are they losing their shit over a rumour on Rihanna's part and yet letting this one slide?

Admittedly, not everyone is letting this second part slide. But I'm not seeing the angry outbursts, television segments and blogger comments flooding this one, when I saw exactly that in regards to Rihanna.

Using myself as an example, I spoke on the radio about violence against womyn and was asked to comment on the "fact" that Rihanna wanted to reconcile with Chris Brown and yet my phone hasn't rang once about his not guilty plea.

Chris Brown turns himself into police for battery and uttering threats and yet his CD sales remain steady. So the writing is on the wall here, people.

Why is that Rihanna "possibly" returning to Chris Brown is a disgusting example to her fans and yet Chris Brown admitting that he took part in an assault and then pleading not guilty is not?
What kind of example is he setting? That it's okay to assault your girlfriend and then act like you did nothing wrong?

There is so much wrong with Chris Brown's not guilty plea. So many concrete, proven things wrong with this. And yet, a rumour smeared Rihanna's reputation.

Somebody explain this to me.

Like so many cases of violence against womyn that I have witnessed in my short lifetime, the onus always falls on the womyn involved. Why aren't we turning the focus to the men?

Why aren't people directing their anger about domestic violence at the men involved?

** I usually post to a lot more secondary articles to back up what I'm saying but 90% of articles featuring this story and the reactions I'm mentioning also post the police photo of Rihanna and I do not want to be a part of reproducing that image on the internet.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lesson Learned?

As you may or may not remember, a prominent New Brunswick sociology professor was murdered last November by his son-in-law. (I wrote about it here). I was (and still am) deeply saddened for him and his family and I was equally as pissed about the complete negligence by the RCMP and police officers involved in the case.

The silver lining at the time was that social justice groups were pushing for an inquiry and report in regards to the investigation. Well, the report has been tabled.

The report calls for better training for RCMP officers regarding domestic violence. Domestic violence, from an investigation point of view, requires certain knowledge and skills that this report found were lacking in RCMP officers.

"The administrative review of the case found that the focus of their investigation was primarily on the theft and fraud allegations, and the mental health of Baker instead of the possibility that there were factors that could lead to domestic violence."

I cannot speak for Mr. McKendy's family members or friends but I can speak for myself in saying that this report is somewhat of a relief in the sense that at least there is the possibility of change occurring. There is no guarantee that anything really will change but it's a possibility now.

I'd never heard of Professor McKendy until his death but if you have a second, Google him. You will get page after page of both his work and people responding to it. He clearly made a difference around the world. Let's hope that this report makes a difference, too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

As You Should Be

Apparently, Harper is "deeply troubled" by the newest Afghani legislation that would make it illegal for a womyn to refuse sex from her husband, for a womyn to leave the house without permission and to have custody of children.

Well Steve, so am I. For once we agree!

But I do find it rather suspicious that you're not "troubled" by the 500+ missing and murdered aboriginal womyn.

Or the fact that Canadian womyn make an average of 72 cents for every dollar that a man makes while still debating the merits of pay equity legislation.

Or really, every other statistic and study demonstrating that systemic violence and sexism against womyn in this country continues to happen day in and day out.

So kudos Steve, on speaking out against this proposed legislation and its very real effects on the lives of womyn in Afghanistan. Kudos, my friend.

But please don't forget the ole adage about stones and glass houses.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Back To Basics

According to a new report by the Canadian Council of Learning, 20% of Canadian university students can't read above a 3rd Level, which means that they are functioning illiterates.

As a Canadian, I hope this shocks you but I must say that as a TA in a Canadian university, this doesn't shock me at all. Some of the stuff I read would give an English Lit Doctor, heart palpitations.

I suppose I spoke too soon when spoke about the Big Decision. I suppose the decision shouldn't be "College" or "University" but rather "Dr Seuss" or "Judy Blume"? Hell, even R.L Stine would do the trick. Anything to get people reading, I suppose.

Because this is not just a problem for the TAs of the world who are forced to read papers with spelling mistakes on the title page or 6 page papers with no paragraph break, the truth is that statistics like this are a real smear on anyone's BA. If I have a BA and you have a BA, but I can read at a university level and you're at the junior high level, suddenly my BA doesn't look so good.

But above all else, it is a true disgrace that in Canada, in 2009, 20% of university students are functionally illiterate. Think about those that didn't make it into university and then the statistic really starts to sink in.

We are in a world of hurt if we don't get this addressed.