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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The War on Womyn Continues

I was on a talk radio show recently about violence against womyn and the conversation quickly turned to why womyn stay in abusive relationships.

THIS is one of the reasons.

Womyn in abusive situations are stuck in a Catch-22. Stay in the relationship and continue to endure abuse and ostracism from others or leave the relationship and possibly have the abuse cease or leave the relationship and have the abuse escalate.

I've said this before and I will say it again: Statistically, a womyn's experiences of violence drastically increase AFTER they leave said relationship. Often, the violence results in murder.

In this latest case, the womyn had separated from her husband, attempted a restraining order and had called the police multiple times. And now, she's dead. According to, her murder is the third family homicide case in Quebec this year alone. Quebec is also currently in the midst of the trial for Ms. Michaud who appears to have been murdered by a neighbour. All this in only one province during one particular frame of time, in a country that apparently prides itself on democracy and keeping the peace.

My heart goes out to the children of Ms. Ghannoum and Ms. Michaud. What unspeakable tragedies.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Not-So-Friendly PSA

Children: Please observe carefully.

Good Satire.

Bad Satire.

Observe the subtle differences between intelligently used irony and outright assholery.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Water Not Recognized As Human Right"

... a headline that breaks my heart.

A headline which clearly breaks CBC's heart too, based on their very obviously slanted article that follows it. But I'm not complaining. I'm sad, too.

Crazies Come Out To Play In Calgary

If you're looking for a Canadian city with a perpetually negative reputation, look no further than Toronto. On any given day, someone, somewhere is bashing Toronto, actively hating Toronto or talking about the latest crime spree of sorts in Toronto.

Hell, there was an entire documentary based on hating Toronto!

But watch out T.Dot; Calgary is climbing up the ranks and looking to steal your much-coveted spot as the most hated city in Canada.


First, they went and invited former President George W. Bush to come and speak. (True, there were anti-Bush protesters, but still... they invited him at all. That's telling).

Then, religious folk from Calgary got upset with the atheists buying some bus ads, so they went and bought their own. Which, whether you agree with the atheists or not, goes to prove their point that people are uber concerned about "their" God.

And then, in a move that stunned the country as a whole, Calgarians witnessed 50 white supremacists marching down the streets on the International Day to End Racism, who then clashed with actual anti-racists protesters. Apparently those ever-clever aryan race asshats have called March 21st "White Pride World Day". Anti-racists advocates didn't like that, so they blocked their way and then riots ensued.

Calgary police are now being criticized for protecting both the white supremacists and the anti-racist demonstrators.

Personally, I don't believe in any violent protesting and I do believe in Freedom of Speech but I also believe that it's really fucking sad when in 2009, Canada has at least 50 people in one city alone who are wanting to march through the streets in support of White Pride.

I love Alberta, I really do, but shit shows like these only act to reinforce the stereotype of Alberta as the Conservative, racist, Bible Belt of Canada.

(For a healthy dose of the Alberta that I love and adore, check out Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In Defense of Barbara

I was planning on writing a post about Barbie's 50th Anniversary this year and how I call myself a feminist and a major Barbie lover, but it seems that everyone has done this. Which makes me really happy, actually.

I could be sour grapes that other feminist bloggers have stolen my thunder, but the truth is, I'm happy to see that people are engaging in a critical analysis of Barbie.

In a nutshell? I understand that Barbie promotes unrealistic body ideals and that as a skinny, blonde, white girl growing up, I took that for granted. Barbie kinda looked like me, after all. But the truth is that Barbie was and still is in many ways, one of the few toys that didn't require you to mother it. She's not a doll in the typical sense of the word. You didn't feed Barbie, clothe Barbie or change Barbie like she was your child. You acted like you were her. And Barbie had some pretty bitchin' jobs, too. (For proof of how multi-tasking Barbie is, check out the amazing Sarah Haskins' video.)

Barbie was a "grown up" who was mature and not fetishized. She's a healthy way for young girls to see themselves as "older" without being... a Bratz doll. Hell, even the amazing Dora the Explorer got a makeover to look older and more attractive! Not cool. What was wrong with the other Dora?

So to me, the real magic of Barbie is that yes, she was an adult, but she wasn't telling girls to grow up and be an adult too quickly. Bratz et al on the other hand are telling girls that they can be adults now. All they need is to hike that skirt, lower that shirt and load up on the makeup. Barbie on the other hand, let you imagine you really were a Vet who was checking up on Skipper's dog or that you were cruising along the beach with your fancy car and all your lady friends. You were imagining it, after all.

So I say kudos, Barbie. You and your man have created impossible beauty ideals and promoted heterosexism above all else, but your plastic ways have also shown young girls (and boys!) that pretty girls aren't just pretty girls, they can be doctors, pilots, vets and singers, too.

Here's to 50 more years of synthetic tresses and disproportionate torsos!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Laugh of the Day

Alright ladies, here’s the deal: In case you thought that your liberation was the result of hard work fighting for suffrage, access to education, reproductive justice, or hell, even the right to wear pants, well girl, you are mistaken. Uh huh. According to the Vatican, washing machines are the real heroes in this story.

On International Women’s Day, the Vatican’s main newspaper had an editorial proclaiming that womyn around the world should be hugging their machines because the availability of the automatic washing machine is the number one cause of womyn's liberation. Apparently, it's what saved us. It liberated womyn from the labour of washing laundry which then allowed them to do other things. Like clean dishes, wash floors, fold the damn laundry, do the gardening, cook the meals…

Oh Vatican, keep the laughs a comin’. Honestly. This shit rules my world.

Of course, if you want my opinion, what really set womyn free was “the right to bare arms”. That's what really sealed the deal on our equality.

And the Conservatives Continue with their Classy Ways

Taken from the March 2nd Question Period in the House of Commons:

Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe, ON, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday was International Women's Day. Unfortunately, in Canada, our celebrations were marred by the regressive actions of this Government when it killed pay equity. Worse, they've insulted Canadian women by telling us that this decision was in our best interests. Mr. Speaker, women are not naive. We're sick of the half truths and we will fight back. Will the Government table any legal opinions that show it has contravened the Charter, and if not, what is this Government hiding?

Hon. Vic Toews (President of the Treasury Board): Well, Mr. Speaker, this Government thought it was wrong that women would have to wait for 15 or 20 years to achieve pay equity in the workforce, and so we brought forward legislation that was, in fact, partly inspired by the Liberal taskforce on this issue in 2004. And, in fact, we, in fact, ensure that … and I know the Member from Beaches got an issue and maybe she can speak later, but she just keeps on whining and whining and yelling, but it's very difficult for me to speak in these kind of circumstances. (FC's Note: Emphasis mine).

Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe, ON, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This Minister is so constable sending (FC's Note: I think this is supposed to read as condescending) and we're tired of the sales job. We can see through it, which is with disproportion at alI affected by the recession. Globally, 70% of the poor are women and in wealthy countries like ours, women are the majority of the poor. Women still earn less than men, and as a result, have less to fall back on when times are tough. Killing pay equity is an afront to women's human rights. Can this Government explain by muzzling women was necessary as part of their so-called economic plan? Or are they admit that it's ideologically driven and a swipe at human rights?

Oh the Conservatives; an ever classy bunch.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cities Contemplate Banning Bottle Water

... and I say, "It's about damn time!".

The Canadian Federation of Municipalities is toying with the idea of banning the sale of bottled water on municipal properties.

Setting aside the very real fact that there's a water war brewing in this world and that water privatization is scary as hell, the existence of bottled water is killing our environment. Our landfills are filled with the stuff and even if every bottled was recycled, the environmental cost of making those bad boys is outrageous.

And then you throw in the various studies showing that most bottled water is no better than what you get from the tap and personally, I'm left scratching my head.

To me, bottled water is one of the biggest scams in existence. I see it in the same category as "Botox" where our children and their children will look at us and say "WTF were you think?" "You mean, you used to BUY water from a BOTTLE when you could get it from the tap?" And then they'll burst into laughter. Especially if the water wars continue and our children's children will be forced to buy water from a bottle because we'll have sold it all to a handful of corporations.

Treat your water like a commodity to be bought and sold and that's exactly what will happen.

So "Kudos" to those municipalities who decide to follow through on this. There will be tons of pressure from Coke, Pepsi and the like but I'm hoping they stick to their guns.

Drinking bottled water has become a cultural symbol, right up there with drinking from a Starbucks cup. It's a class symbol. But it's also learnt behaviour. And just as society is starting to shift towards carrying around travel mugs for their coffee, the same can be done for water.

This may blow some people's minds, but there are such things as water bottles that you buy and you use over and over and over again. Yup. You buy it once and you keep using it again and again. And you fill it up with whatever you want. I know, it's crazy. But you should try it. All the cool kids do.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Catholic Church = Epic Fail

"A Vatican cleric is defending a Brazilian archbishop's decision to excommunicate several doctors who performed an abortion last week on a nine-year-old girl who became pregnant with twins after alleged sexual abuse by her step-father.

"It is a sad case, but the real problem is that the twins conceived were two innocent persons, who had the right to live and could not be eliminated,'' Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re told the Italian daily La Stampa." (CBC)

A nine year old girl is sexually assaulted and becomes pregnant. Clearly nobody else was coming to this unfortunate girl's side, so doctors performed an abortion to save her from being a 9 year old mother and the Church decides that the innocent babies were the real victims, so out go the doctors and the girl's MOTHER! Yes, that's right, the girl's mother was also ex-communicated. And just in case you think it's because she was part of the abuse, think again.

As for the incestuous step-father? Well, the bishop "did not excommunicate the step-father, saying the crime he is alleged to have committed, although deplorable, was not as bad as ending a fetus's life.".

We all know that the Catholic Church has a fabulous reputation of protecting pedophiles, but this... this is something else.

I'm not one for sensationalism and although this appears to be a case of extreme sensationalism, I feel it's important for feminists to continuously take a stand against garbage like this. Although this may appear to be an "extreme" example of religious fantaticism, I believe that all acts of violence, and violence against womyn in particular, exist on a continuum.

There really are no words for something as despicable and disgusting as this. Shame on you Vatican; shame on you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Not-So Friendly PSA

FeministCatalyst interrupts to declare that:

The Term Reverse Racism Needs To Die.

Reverse racism's friends (.i.e.: reverse sexism, reverse discrimination) need to die as well. It's either discriminatory or its not. Yes, she understands the "logic" behind this term; that it defines an act of racism that goes against the usual forms of racism.

But the term and its uses make no sense and only serve to further discriminate against those who are actually, you know... discriminated against.

So remember kids, friends don't let friends use this term.

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by the letters F and U.

You may now return to your regular scheduled programming.