CANADA: LAND OF MISANDRY? NOT ANYMORE

28 Jul

I think that we can all agree that the main problem with Canadian history is that men are just way too underrepresented. Take our money, for example. I mean, the queen is on all of our coins! What kind of misandry is this? Sure the five dollar bill boasts our old pal Wilfred Laurier, and the ten dollar bill shows everyone’s favourite confederation-loving racist Sir John A. Macdonald, and the fifty dollar bill has séance-holder and dog enthusiast William Lyon Mackenzie King and yeah, fine, the hundred dollar bill is devoted to Nova Scotia’s good ole boy Sir Robert Borden, but I mean, come on. Queen Elizabeth II graces all of our coins and our twenty dollar bill. Every time you open your wallet it’s just ladies ladies everywhere and nary a dick in sight*.

If you’re not seeing the feminist conspiracy that’s clearly at play here, then you must have taken the blue pill and I hope your happy living in your fantasy world where you think women aren’t angling for world domination. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be out here fighting the good fight for all those poor, ignored white men of history.

Thankfully, those of us with even just an ounce of good sense can count ourselves lucky to have Lord and Saviour of Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper on our side. I mean, here’s a guy whose political party is fighting for rights of oppressed white dudes everywhere. After his disappointing failure to ban abortion in our fair country – though fear not, beloved reader, he’s doing his best to make accessing abortions as difficult as possible! – he has now set his sights on a new and very worthy enterprise: getting all the ladies off of our money.

Obviously it would be silly to start by taking the queen off of our money. For one thing, she’ll be dead soon and then it’s kings ahoy for at least the next century. For another, if Harper did that he wouldn’t be invited to any more royal garden parties, and if there is one thing Stephen Harper loves, it’s garden parties. Full of white people. Who speak English. Preferably with a refined accent. He’s also a big fan of those little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

With that in mind, Harper began his de-ladyfying of the Canadian currency back in 2012 by removing the Famous Five and an image of the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award from the fifty dollar bill. The Famous Five, for you lucky few not in the know – how nice it must be to live in ignorance of Canada’s deplorably lady-infested past! – were Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Edwards, the five women foolish enough to ask if the word “persons” in Section 24 of the British North America Act included female persons. Which of course was a trick question because we all know that there’s no such thing as a female person – just male persons and hysterical, irrational women.

Thérèse Casgrain, bless her unreasonable little female heart, came a bit later than the Famous Five and was one of those pesky suffragettes. You know, those women who thought that female-persons (OXYMORON) should be allowed to have a say in who was running the country. As if men weren’t capable of making that decision by themselves! She also went on to do many unfeminine things such as being made an Officer of the Order of Canada and becoming a senator. No wonder so many fatherless teenagers are getting pregnant and shooting innocent white people.

Pierre Trudeau, noted socialist and French-speaking person, created the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award in 1982 as a way of honouring Canadians who deserve recognition for doing things for free (which is the opposite of capitalism). Note that Trudeau and Casgrain are both from Québec – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from that fact, but with mention that you can totally anagram “separatism” into “parasites m” (the M is for Murder All The Anglophones). I think it’s pretty clear to everyone here that this award was all some sort of front for the FLQ, who are probably bombing your staunch anglo mailbox as we speak.

Thankfully for all of us true, red-blooded (BUT WHITE-SKINNED, AMIRITE FOLKS?) Canadians, it has recently come to light that Stephen Harper put a stop to all those Thérèse Casgrain shenanigans back in 2010. In lieu of that stinky french commie award, he created a Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award to be awarded instead, with a picture of the prime minister’s banner on it. I MEAN IS THAT CANADIAN OR WHAT. BEAVERS AND MAPLE LEAFS FUCK YEAH. I’M GONNA GO DO A LINE OF TIMBITS TO CELEBRATE.

I would suggest that all of us loyal (white) Canadians should kneel by our bed and offer a prayer of thanks to Jesus (also white) that we live in this wonderful country that works so hard to erase the memory of any and all women who might ever have done anything of note.

Thank you, Stephen Harper. Thank you.

Amen.

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*Not all men have penises and not all women have vaginas, but as far as I know QEII has a very royal vagina and all of the men on Canadian money were happily be-penised.

 

We Asked One Woman (Me) Why Birth Control Is Great And Here Was Her Answer

24 Jul

So today Buzzfeed published a post with the title “We Asked 24 Women Why They Don’t Use Birth Control And These Are Their Answers.” And like, first off, where do they find these women? Are they living under a rock in Arizona where they don’t actually know what Buzzfeed is and don’t understand that their images will be fodder for a million internet feminists/misogynists/what-have-you looking for easy prey? Or are they so secure in their beliefs that they actually just don’t give a fuck? Are they hoping they’ll convince other women to join their YAY BABIES BOO BIRTH CONTROL tribe? I mean, I sincerely hope it’s the latter, but I don’t know. Some days I just don’t know.

Also why are so many of them standing in front of the same white brick wall? Did Buzzfeed recruit them off the street and then take them to the same weird alleyway to photograph them? Do they all work for Buzzfeed? IS THIS A CONSPIRACY? Someone should look into this and get back to me stat. Meanwhile, on with the feminist rants.

So, first up, I’m assuming that what many of them mean by “birth control” is “hormonal birth control,” based on responses like this:

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So, real talk: I actually do have a sincere amount of empathy for these women. Hormonal birth control is not for everyone. I know plenty of women whose bodies just can’t handle artificial hormones, and the range of their reactions to the birth control pill and/or hormonal IUDs and/or shots or patches have ranged from migraines to decreased sex drive to severe mood swings to recurrent panic attacks. NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE COOL, AND WHAT UP IF HORMONAL BIRTH CONTROL IS MAKING YOU FEEL TERRIBLE THEN I FULLY SUPPORT YOU NOT USING IT.

BUT.

BUT.

THERE ARE SO MANY FORMS OF BIRTH CONTROL THAT DO NOT INVOLVE HORMONES.

Like condoms, for one. No, they’re not as effective as hormonal birth control, but they are still PRETTY DAMN EFFECTIVE. If, for whatever reason, the pill et al are not for you, then condoms are an extremely viable alternative. “OH BUT MY DUDE DOESN’T LIKE TO GET IT ON UNLESS HE’S BAREBACK.” That’s cool! I mean, I mostly think it’s kind of a dick move (pun SO intended) for a dude to pull because it puts the onus for contraception almost entirely on the woman, but I get that this is a genuine issue for some couples. The good news is that you still have options – for example, a copper IUD, which is super effective and is totally non-hormonal. Or the sponge, which contains spermicide but no hormones. Or a cervical cap or diaphragm, the latter of which should be used in conjunction with spermicide but the former of which can be used totally chemical-free!

OR (and I know I’m about to get a lot of shit for this) the dude can just pull out. Like, if he is a trusted partner and you both know that he can pull out in time and you’re both STI-free and blah blah blah, this is actually totally an option. If done properly, the rate of success is pretty high. I say this as a person who used this as my primary form of birth control for like three years, and it’s not like I have fertility issues. I got pregnant literally the first time we didn’t use any form of contraception, so it’s not a case of “well sure he pulled out, but maybe you just wouldn’t have conceived anyway.” You guys, my body is a conception machine.

So, like I said, I feel for these women on some level and I support whatever choice they want to make about their body, but also I think they’re spreading gross misinformation about what “birth control” actually is.

But some of these other women? I am digging real deep in the empathy vault in an effort to not just scream WRONG YOU ARE WRONG WHY ARE YOU SO WRONG PLEASE STOP BEING WRONG but you guys, I am having a pretty tough time. To wit:

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WHAT IS ALL WORTH IT. Risking pregnancy every time you get it on? Having more children than you can afford and living in poverty? Struggling to be able to pursue any dreams or goals beyond “have lots of babies?” Never sleeping again? PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT IS WORTH IT BECAUSE I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

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BIRTH CONTROL IS NOT A ZERO-SUM GAME. You can use it sometimes, and then not use it when you want to get pregnant. IT’S NOT LIKE YOU TAKE A PILL AND BAM YOU WILL NEVER EVER HAVE A BABY, WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY TEACH YOU IN HEALTH CLASS.

Oh and I am not even touching the whole “my body is a gift to my future husband” thing with a ten foot pole. Except to relate this anecdote from when my now-husband and I were planning our wedding and the priest wanted us to sleep in separate bedrooms in the months leading up to the wedding. The reasoning he gave was this: “I want you to think of your sex as a gift. Now [turning to my husband] have you ever received a gift that someone else had already opened, then wrapped up and then re-gifted? How would you feel about a gift that’s been re-gifted seven or eight times before you finally receive it?”

He may as well have just pointed to me and yelled “WHOOOOOOOOOOORE!”

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That’s awesome! Devoid of any context, I would fully support the message this woman is holding up. Also, her hair is really fucking swag.

BUT HOW IS TAKING BIRTH CONTROL NOT A MINDFUL DECISION AND A WAY OF ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS. This actually kind of breaks my brain. Like, the only way of accepting “responsibility” for sex is to get pregnant? THAT IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE MODEL TO WORK WITH.

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I mean, I guess? But like, do you also think that hair growth isn’t a condition that needs to be fixed? Or nudity? Like, you are just never going to alter your body for your own convenience because nature or god or whatever?

I don’t really think of my fertility as a “condition that needs to be fixed” so much as “a reality about my body that I prefer to have control over.” BEING IN CONTROL OF YOUR OWN BODY IS SO AWESOME, YOU GUYS. I DON’T GET HOW ANYONE COULD DISAGREE WITH THAT.

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I guess when you think your husband owns your body, then you also believe that he owns all of your unfertilized eggs. So.

(At first I accidentally typed “unfertilized effs” and actually I’m pretty sure that’s what my body is full of)

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I LITERALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS.

YES. YOU CAN CHOOSE NOT TO USE BIRTH CONTROL AND STILL BE A FEMINIST.

CONGRATULATIONS.

NOW LET’S ALLOW OTHER WOMEN TO MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES ABOUT THEIR OWN BODIES.

FEMINISM, Y’ALL

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I know that what she actually means is that she has enough self-control not to be a slutty slut who has hot sex whenever she feels like it. Which is stupid and nonsensical because ALL women have that control should they wish to exercise it – it’s not like those of us getting it on are doing so because we are slaves to our own desires. But I’d rather think that what she’s saying is that she has total control over her own body and can stop eggs from being fertilized or whatever using her intense MIND POWERS.

She also never farts because CONTROL.

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… I actually think that she just said that birth control makes men feel like they can get away with rape.

I just.

I can’t.

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I also fully don’t understand this one. WHAT SYMPTOMS. WHAT PROBLEM.

MY PROBLEM IS THAT MY OVARIES ARE FULL OF EGGS AND MY BODY WANTS TO MAKE BABIES ANY TIME IT SENSES A SPERMAL INTRUDER AND I DON’T WANT ANOTHER KID RIGHT NOW. SO YEAH, CONTRACEPTION ACTUALLY DOES TREAT THE PROBLEM.enhanced-buzz-14348-1406076618-8

Hey man. You do sex your way, I’ll do it mine. If sex was meant ONLY to create life then god wouldn’t have invented the multiple orgasm, just saying. Or gay people, for that matter.

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Real talk: they’re both. Take it from someone who’s been there, done that. Kids are awesome and magical, but they will get all up in your shit and you will never have a moment to yourself. I love my kid and all, but when you’re considering what to get me for my birthday just know that I’d rather not, at this moment, have another creature in this house who will look me full in the face, grinning broadly while doing exactly what I told him not to do, just fucking WAITING to see my reaction. One of those gifts is enough for now.

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Arguably cooler, but also a bajillion times harder to rear and exponentially more expensive.

Call me next time your pet gerbil has a meltdown in the candy aisle because you won’t buy him the chocolate he wants and oh my god you need to get your grocery shopping done but everyone is staring at you and whispering and you know you should just leave but then you won’t be able to eat for a week.

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I actually agree that no one is ever really ready for kids. Nothing in this world can prepare you for what it’s like to go weeks without sleep and spend your days being screamed at by a tiny tyrant. By the same token, nothing can prepare you for the super intense love you will feel for your kid. It’s kind of a two-sided coin.

But legit that doesn’t mean that people who don’t want to have kids are wrong or misguided or just don’t understand how wonderful babies are. Some people don’t want to have kids and that’s their choice, end of story. Go read the fucking Handmaid’s Tale or something and then we can talk about what it would be like to live in a world where women have no bodily autonomy.

ANYWAY.

Everyone has a choice and gets to make their own choice and that’s rad. I’m glad that these women have all considered their options and decided what makes the most sense for their bodies. And I guess the argument could be made that they’re not trying to convince other women that they shouldn’t use birth control either – I mean, they’re just saying what works for them, right? But I think that when you photograph yourself holding up a giant white sign explaining why you don’t use contraception, then it definitely seems like you’re trying to change the opinion of women who DO put up the no-baby shield. And that’s a pretty shitty, unfeminist thing to do.

Also I really want to organize a basic sex ed class for all of these women and explain to them how their body works and what contraception ACTUALLY means because I am sincerely sad that a lot of this seems to be a grey area for them. WOMEN EVERYWHERE: YOU SHOULD EDUCATE YOURSELVES ABOUT YOUR RAD BODIES. IT CAN ONLY LEAD TO MORE HAPPINESS.

Ask A Feminist: Is BDSM Inherently Misogynist?

15 Jul

Q: What is your opinion on BDSM? Obviously people should be free do to whatever they want in the privacy of their bedrooms… but don’t you get suspicious when guys nonchalantly admits to enjoy getting off at the thought of humiliating and/or beating  a woman? Doesn’t it sound like they’re reinforcing negative stereotypes that are already omnipresent in our society, only in this case they can get away with it because it’s – supposedly – a consensual fantasy? Is it just a fantasy, after all? Do fantasies happen in a vacuum? Aren’t there going to be ramifications? Where do they come from in the first place? We can criticize women’s portrayal in mainstream media, but we can’t do the same with BDSM? Why? As for female submissives… isn’t consenting to the re-enactment of abusive and exploitative scenarios a bit self-destructive? Or am I taking away women’s agency by pointing this out?

A: First of all, a sexy disclaimer: I’m not an expert on BDSM. I’ve engaged in some fairly light BDSM stuff before, but definitely not enough to make me feel like I am a Noted Authority on this subject. But I definitely have Thoughts and Feelings on feminism and BDSM, and naturally I’m going to share them with you.

First of all, no, I don’t think that fantasies exist in a vacuum. I think that people’s sexual proclivities and fantasies are definitely influenced by our society in one way or another. I know for a fact that there are men who are into humiliating and degrading women sexually because they flat out think that’s what women deserve. BUT. I don’t think that dudes who are turned on by dominating women must, by default, be misogynists; in the same vein, I don’t think that women who are interested in being submissive in the bedroom are self-hating anti-feminists. I think that BDSM can for sure be a way of exploring the power dynamics between men and women, but I don’t think that the fact that a man is sexually dominant necessarily means that he views women as inferior.

I once had a partner who was pretty into being dominant in the bedroom. Interestingly, I think this actually caused him more moral quandaries than it did me – I was totally into it, but I remember that at one point he asked me, “How do you ethically degrade a feminist?” The answer is, of course, “With her enthusiastic consent.” If she’s into it, and she wants you to do it, then it’s not actually “degrading,” even if an outside observer might call it that. It’s just a way of interacting that makes you both incredibly hot under the collar, and that’s pretty awesome.

Personally, I find that being sexually submissive has a lot of positive things going for it. When I’m in a submissive sexual role, I don’t have to make any decisions, which is actually pretty relaxing because I often feel like I have to make All The Decisions For Everyone in my everyday life. The times that I’ve slept with dudes who are all, “ok, first I want you to go down on me, and then I’m going to fuck you and make you come, and then I’m going to come on your face,” I’ve been like, great! Now I don’t have to worry about what’s coming next or whether he’s enjoying what I’m doing or whatever. It’s basically like a day at the spa (with a complimentary facial) (that was a really bad joke) (sorry).

Another thing that I like about being submissive in the bedroom is how safe it makes me feel. I know, that sounds like a total contradiction, but it’s true. Being submissive to a dude makes me feel safe because it gives me the realization that I trust this guy so much that I will let him be in control. Usually I’m a super uptight control freak, so the fact that there have been people with whom I’ve felt comfortable enough to totally hand over the reigns is huge. It means that I trust this person enough to never, ever hurt me and to always respect me if I show the slightest sign of not wanting to do something. And dang, feeling that safe with someone gives me a giant boner.

I’ve definitely had my moments of wondering if enjoying being tied up and spanked is very feminist of me, but I guess I’ve come to realize that the most feminist thing I can do is not police my own sexuality or the sexuality of other women. And really, it’s not as if me denying this submissive fetish will benefit anyone; it’s not going to go away if I pretend that it doesn’t exist, and refusing to act on it just means that I’ll have less fun in the bedroom. If I want to be sex-positive (and I do!) then I have to be on board with all kinds of different ways of expressing of sexuality, even if some of them don’t seem very quote-unquote feminist.

I also think it says a lot about our culture that when we talk about BDSM and feminism, we pretty much always mean BDSM within a cis-het relationship, usually referring to a power dynamic where the man is dominant and the woman is submissive. No one ever asks if BDSM between two (or more!) women is feminist, and dominant women aren’t often discussed except in the OHHHHH SCARY SHE’S A DOMINATRIX kinda way. So, as a friend recently pointed out to me, that right there shows you that it’s not so much BDSM that’s problematic, but the way that we assign and act out gender roles. And, again, that’s not to say that men who are dominant are never misogynists, just that one doesn’t necessarily have to equal the other.

I guess that the bottom line is that as long as there’s enthusiastic consent from all partners involved, then any sex can be considered “feminist.” Because if there’s one thing the patriarchy hates, it’s women who own their own sexuality. So I think we should embrace all forms of (consensual) sexual exploration, because in this case I think that’s the most feminist thing we can possibly do.

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I Was Fifty One Percent Bitch, In Case You Were Wondering

9 Jul

 

So there’s this quiz that I’ve seen circulating on my Facebook feed. It’s charmingly titled “How Bitchy Are You?” and features a series of questions meant to determine your bitchiness quotient (presented in the form of a percentage, so, I mean, SCIENCE).

And like I just want to straight up say that I’m all for marginalized groups reclaiming slurs as their own. I’m so down with that! If a woman wants to call herself a bitch, that’s cool. I personally am trying to back away from using the word bitch for various reasons, but I’m not going to police other women for using it, especially when they’re applying it to themselves in what they feel is a positive manner.

BUT (for reals don’t pretend you didn’t know there was a but coming). BUT. Let’s take a look-see shall we at the ways in which the quiz quantifies bitchiness. Let’s ALSO talk a little bit about how these behaviours would be perceived if we saw them being acted out by men.

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I’m preeeetty sympathetic to telemarketers because back in ye olde days when I was still in university, I worked in this weird little basement call centre where we would try to convince alumni to donate us more money. So in general I try to be pretty kind and patient when dealing with people trying to sell me shit over the phone. But for reals some of them can be really hard to get rid of, even once you’ve politely declined their offer. So I don’t think that getting a bit forceful while trying to get a telemarketer off the phone is being bitchy.

If a dude did this, we would call him assertive.

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You mean, have I ever disciplined a pet because, FOR EXAMPLE, they wantonly peed on my favourite black wool coat? Yes. Yes I have done that. As my mother likes to say, disciplining your child (or in this case a pet) is a form of loving them. If I just let these things slide, my cat would pee all over everything that I love and then shred my couch. So yeah, I will totally let a pet know if their behaviour is out of line.

If a dude did this? Like if he told his dog not to jump all over you? You would call him a good pet owner.

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OH YOU COMPLAINED ABOUT TRAFFIC? GAWD, YOU BITCH.

If a dude did this it would be called “making conversation.”

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Heaven forbid you expect timely service at a place where you are PAYING TO BE SERVED FOOD. And let’s be real, I am all about treating people in the service industry well because I know from personal experience that they get crap thrown at them all the time. But, like, expecting a server to come check on you after they’ve given you the menu and left you alone for a period of time? That is not outside the realm of appropriate expectations.

If a dude went to talk to the manager in order to speed things up and ease the hangry pains his table-mates are experiencing, he would be hailed as a FOOD HERO.

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Yeah, teaching your kid that it’s fine to be pushed around by others because “life isn’t fair” is totally legit. Sometimes you’ll get bullied, kid, because life just isn’t fair and pretty much you should just be a doormat and let people treat you however they want. Also talk about betraying your kids’ trust – as a parent you are there to make your kid feel safe as they figure out how to navigate this fucked up thing we call “life.” Teaching them that sometimes other kids are going to treat them badly and you’ll just stand there and do nothing is a really awful message to send them.

If a dude stood up for his kid at the playground, he would be hailed as King of the Dads.

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This is the one that really makes me see red. Because, you know, nothing says “bitch” like setting boundaries with strangers WHILE YOU ARE CLEARLY OCCUPIED WITH YOUR PHONE. Seriously, though, it says a LOT about our society that a woman is bitchy if she isn’t willing to stop what she’s doing and fake interest in a boring conversation with a stranger.

Also, what is up with people – DUDES SPECIFICALLY – who think it’s cool to interrupt a woman while her attention is happily engaged elsewhere? I can’t even count the number of times dudes have interrupted me while I’m reading in some public place to strike up a conversation with me. LIKE, DO YOU NOT SEE MY BOOK. I AM READING THIS BOOK. IT IS AN ACTIVITY THAT I ENJOY, WHICH IS WHY I’M DOING IT. IF I WANTED TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH STRANGE DUDES I’M SURE I COULD ARRANGE THAT ON MY OWN. But no, women obviously only ever read books as a way to lure men. Actually, state secret: women can’t even really read. We just stare at the words and pretend to be smart in hopes that some man will walk by and decide we’re baby-making material.

Also, if a dude did this, he would again be called assertive and if the stranger was a woman everyone would roll their eyes over how pathetic and needy she was.

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NO, DON’T CALMLY TELL SOMEONE “EXCUSE ME THERE IS A LINE.” THAT IS TOO BITCHY. JUST LET PEOPLE WALK ALL OVER YOU. A WOMAN SHOULD ALWAYS BE PASSIVE AND SWEET AND LET EVERYONE ELSE DO WHATEVER THEY WANT. IN FACT, SPEAKING OF WANTS, A WOMAN SHOULD NEVER HAVE THEM UNLESS THEY’RE SOMETHING LIKE “I WANT TO MAKE MY HUSBAND A STEAK AND THEN GIVE HIM A BLOWJOB.” THAT IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE WANT FOR A WOMAN TO HAVE.

If a dude did this, everyone else in the line would thank him for saving them from entitled jerks who cut into lines.

Look. Bitch is an oppressive term that’s used to silence and belittle women. It’s a word used to gaslight women who dare to stand up for themselves. It’s one thing to say, “haha yeah I’m a tough bitch and I love it,” and totally another to say that a woman (and let’s just be clear here, this quiz is obviously aimed at women and I’ve only seen women sharing it) who doesn’t want to engage in conversation with boring strangers at the airport is a bitch. And I guess a lot of the people sharing this quiz think it’s cute to be like, “aw yeah look at me I’m 63% bitch,” but the fact is that this quiz says some pretty shitty things about how women are expected to behave.

So if you want to call yourself a bitch, then go ahead and own that shit. But let’s seriously think about the ways that this word impacts other women. Because it’s one thing to embrace the word for yourself, and a whole other ballgame when you start perpetuating shit that calls women bitchy for complaining about traffic.

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Seven Reasons You Should Thank A Feminist Today

4 Jul

If there is one thing in this world that makes me want to chew my own face off, it’s women who think that feminism has ruined their lives.

You know the type – women who want to live in some kind of souped up 1950s fantasy world where they get married right out of high school and their husband makes enough to support their family on just his income and they think the moral decline of society has something to do with the fact that women no longer wear crinolines and genteel white gloves and cute little hats. Never mind that, you know, lots and lots of families in the 1950s weren’t able to live off of a single income; trust me when I say that feminism did not invent the working mother. Leaving that little scrap of truth aside, I guess I can see what some women find appealing about this model. They want to live in a world where there were fewer expectations put on women – and lord knows that in this day and age, when women often work full time jobs outside of the home and yet are still expected to do the majority of the housework and childcare, the idea that there was a time when you only needed to be pretty and fertile might seem downright relaxing. I guess.

Of course, many women were miserable back then, and the feminine mystique and blah blah blah. I’m not going to get into all that Betty Friedan second wave fun here, but feel free to look it up if you don’t believe me. Life for women back then was like a fancy chocolate with some gross shit inside – really pretty to look at, but best left in the box so that some other sucker who HASN’T read the chocolate map gets tricked into eating it. Just kidding. No one should eat that chocolate – it’s a garbage chocolate and should be treated as such.

All that being said, the thing that REALLY makes me howl with exasperation over this time-travel housewife fetishization is that the vast, vast majority of the women who say that they hate feminism seem to be pretty damn happy to reap the benefits of it. So either they’re totally unaware of what feminism is, what it’s done, and how history works, or else they’re just total hypocrite jerks.

If it’s the latter:

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But assuming that for some people it’s the former, here’s a short and totally not exhaustive list of things that they can do because of feminism.

1. Vote

Thanks to those lovely suffragettes, women have the legal right to help decide who runs your country. This means women get an actual say in legislation that directly impacts them and their daily life. THAT IS A REALLY AWESOME THING, regardless of whether or not you, personally, exercise your right to vote.

And just a heads up, I will jump-kick anyone who says that women were “given” the right to vote. No. Women were not given anything. They fought, endured violence, imprisonment and forced-feedings, and sometimes even died for the right to vote. So fuck you to anyone who wants to say otherwise.

Police arresting British suffragette Emmeline Pankurst

Police arresting British suffragette Emmeline Pankurst

2. Own property

Being able to own property is awesome. Being able to inherit property is also awesome. Know why? Because it totally helps you avoid a Sense and Sensibility type situation when you are your husband’s second wife and he totally wants to will everything to you and your daughters, BUT HE LEGALLY CANNOT. And then you have to go live in a cottage and the family that owns the cottage is the most annoying family in the world and then also Willoughby comes along and ruins everything even further. So.

The fact that women can now legally own property straight up means that the government can’t just walk in, take your house away, and give it to a dude (or keep it for themselves). The fact that women can now legally inherit property means that if a you are living in a house that a manly man owns and he wants to give you said house when he dies because he thinks you’re rad and maybe also you have nowhere else to live, he can TOTALLY DO THAT. This is seriously a huge thing and I can’t understand how any woman could be like, “huh, I wish I lived in a time when I could be turned out of my house because my presence has become inconvenient to a dude.”

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3. Have Reproductive Rights

Do you like being able to have any kind of control over your baby-making parts beyond yelling “MAKE SURE YOU PULL OUT IN TIME” when a dude starts making his o-face? Great, then you can thank feminism. Feminists of many stripes have fought long and hard to make sure that women have access to birth control, reproductive healthcare and safe and easy abortion. So unless you’re, like, part of the Quiverfull movement or else a staunch Catholic, you can high five feminism for the fact that you can totally get it on without getting knocked up.

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4. Wear Pants

Pants are fucking awesome. And let’s not forget about pants’ cute little cousin, shorts. I’m really glad that I can wear pants, because they’re super warm in the winter and they allow me to sit in all kinds of unladylike positions without flashing my junk at everyone. Yay pants! Thank you, feminism, for my pants. I am wearing pants right now – charcoal skinny jeans, to be specific – and I’m just going to have a little moment of silence to express my gratitude for these pants.

One time, back in ye olden days (the 1960s), my grandmother’s boss wouldn’t let any of his female employees wear pants. And my grandmother, bless her, was like, fuck this noise I want to wear some goddamn pants to work. So she took her boss to the Ontario Human Rights Commission and totally won the right to wear pants to work. So if you ever have those days when you just don’t want to wear a skirt, you can totally thank feminism (AND MY GRANDMA) for the fact that you can put on a pair of pants and strut yourself to work.

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5. Get An Education

Remember when we were growing up and our parents were all, “You can be whatever you want when you grow up!”? Well, that’s because of women who braved insults and abuse and alienation and all kinds of other shitty shit in order to be able to go to medical school or law school or like astronaut school or whatever. Women literally sat there in those classrooms and let their classmates and professors treat them like complete dirt in order to get a higher education. And that paved the way for women today being able to pursue any postsecondary studies they want to.

There are still so many girls on this planet who don’t have access to even a grade-school level education. Don’t forget that in some countries girls are threatened with violence or death for attempting to go to school. Stop taking your own education for granted and recognize the fact that thanks, in part, to feminism, you were able to go to, you know, walk into school without worrying about getting shot because you’re a girl.

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6. Work Outside The Home and Be Financially Independent

Whether or not you love your job, the fact that we are able to be respected members of the work force is so fucking important. Even if you’re the world’s happiest stay-at-home mom (and ain’t nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom), you should be grateful that, if need be, you could go out and get a job and make your own money. While, as noted above, women working outside the home is nothing new, the fact that they can do that AND be financially independent is. Ladies, you can make your own money and then keep it and choose what you spend it on. I mean, yes, this ties in with the whole idea of women being able to own things, but it’s so damn important it deserves its own entry.

Women need to have the ability to support themselves and their own families – whether they exercise that ability or not. Otherwise, we’re totally dependent on men for, well, everything. If your husband dies or leaves you or it becomes necessary for you to leave, then what the fuck are you going to do if you can’t get a job? So even if you’re not currently financially independent, the fact that you could be is really fucking huge.

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7. Be A Person

You know what’s awesome? Being a full-fledged person in the eyes of the law. I really, really love not being a man’s property. I love having agency. I love being able to make my own decisions. I love that I live in a world where it’s no longer completely 100% legal for a man to rape his wife. Being a person is so fucking rad. And yeah, if you’re a woman, you can fucking thank feminism for the fact that you are legally a person.

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The bottom line is:

I don’t give a fuck if you call yourself a feminist. I mean, you totally should, because feminism is awesome and patriarchy sucks, but you get to make your own choices about how you label yourself. However, I give all the fucks if you think that feminism is useless, or has never accomplished anything or, worse, is somehow responsible for all of your life problems. Because if you value any of the things mentioned above (and, spoiler alert, you should), then you can just give feminism a big old high five. Whether or not you’re a feminist is your own business, but for god’s sake at least acknowledge that you owe a debt of gratitude to the movement for so many of the rights and freedoms that you currently enjoy.

FEMINISM – FUCK YEAH

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On Parenting and Pride and All That Other Good Stuff

30 Jun

When I was eighteen I was pretty sure that my mother was gay.

Not that she’d ever expressed an attraction to women. Actually, she’d never really expressed an attraction to anyone (aside from George Clooney, otherwise known as Thursday Night Dreamboat Doctor Ross, although I was more of a Noah Wyle girl myself), and the idea of my mother as a sexual being seemed completely foreign to me. At that point she’d been divorced for five years, and as far as I was concerned she didn’t have sex. Or want to have sex. Ever. End of story.

But still, I was pretty sure she was gay.

See, I found this book. I was in her room, doing my best impression of an intrepid girl detective and rummaging through her stuff. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but you never knew what you might find – a nice set of fake pearls, the poncho my grandfather had brought back from Peru when she was a kid, a beat up old copy of Peyton Place. So if I happened to find myself home alone, I would often find myself carefully removing everything from on top of her big wooden chest (mentally cataloguing where everything had been so that I could replace it in exactly the same spot and she would never suspect) and then rifling through its contents. STEALTH.

On this one particular day, as I was moving her small television and our ancient Nintendo system off the chest, I noticed a book that I’d never seen before. It was called Home Truths: Lesbian Mothers Come Out To Their Daughters. Inside the front cover was a hand-written note – “Dear [my mother's name], don’t forget – always tell the truth. Love, Gloria.”

Truth, by the way, was underlined twice.

I mean.

Come on.

What else was I supposed to take from this other than the fact that my mother had a lesbian lover named Gloria?

Like, seriously.

And I mean of course she was gay; the signs had been there all along. She hadn’t dated anyone since my father had left. She had short hair. She wore sensible shoes. How could I possibly have missed it? The fact that she’d had three kids with a man didn’t mean anything – my friend C____’s mother had come out shortly after divorcing C____’s father and was now dating a woman. They drove to Toronto every year for pride and had matching rainbow lawn chairs. Oh god, were my mother and Gloria going to get matching rainbow lawn chairs and matching Birkenstocks and whatever other matchy-matchy things lesbians have?

And then suddenly I felt really bad, because I realized that she was probably pretty worried about how my sisters and I would react to all of this. I mean, why else would she buy a how-to book? Maybe she was staying up all night thinking about whether or not we’d be cool with her being gay. Maybe she was wondering if her family would disown her. I felt guilty that I came off as someone who might have been judgmental of her sexuality, and I decided that I had to say something.  I figured I would employ my stealth skills and start a super subtle conversation that would lead her to admit that she was in love with a woman, all without me having to admit that I’d been going through her stuff.

I had my chance that evening, as she was driving me to work. Please feel free to picture me in my vile Tim Horton’s uniform, with the maroon polyester pants and the maroon and white striped shirt.

Me: Mom? I just want you to know that I love you no matter what.

My mother: Thanks, Annie.

Me: Like, no matter what. No matter who you are or whatever.

My mother: Great. Thanks.

Me: Like, I don’t care who you love.

My mother: I appreciate that.

Me: I’ll always love you.

My mother (suspicious): What’s all this about?

Me: I just mean that if you’re gay that’s totally fine and I don’t care.

My mother: Why on earth would you think I was gay?

Me: Ok, I was in your room and I wasn’t snooping, I swear to god I wasn’t snooping I was just putting something in the hamper, and I accidentally saw this book next to the tv.

My mother: … what book?

Me: It was about lesbian mothers coming out to their daughters. And your girlfriend wrote you a note in it telling you to always tell the truth. And I don’t care, because I love you even if that is the truth.

My mother: (Dies laughing)

Me: (Sulks, because I hate being laughed at)

My mother: (Dies laughing some more. Like she is crying. Tears running down her face. She has to pull over because she can’t see well enough to drive)

Me: (SUPER SULKY)

My mother: Annie, that is a book my friend Gloria put together. She gave me a free copy and signed it. That’s all.

Me: Because I don’t care if you’re gay! You can just tell me, ok?

My mother: I’m not gay. It was my friend’s book, I swear that’s all. But I appreciate you saying all of this.

Now, looking back ten-plus years later, I’m the one who’s appreciative. I feel lucky that I grew up in a country that is fairly tolerant (although oh god there is still so much room for improvement). I also feel lucky that my parents were pretty laid back and liberal about everything, and worked hard to make sure that there was at least some amount of diversity in my life. When my father moved to Toronto, he rented a place on the edge of the gay village, and I loved visiting him and going off exploring on my own – there was such a weird frisson of excitement walking around in the middle of this culture that was pretty foreign to the rest of my life. I wanted to be like the girls that I saw there, with their half-shaved heads and facial piercings and boy’s clothes. Girls who held hands and kissed in public. I didn’t know any girls like that in Kitchener.

My father took me to my first Toronto Pride Parade when I was fifteen, and I remember being absolutely enchanted by a float of men wearing nothing but tighty whities and sailor hats. They were throwing bottles of water into the crowd. I was really excited when I caught one. I brought it back home with me like it was some kind of prize.

I think a lot about how Theo will view his sexuality as he gets older. I flip-flop from worrying about whether he might be teased or bullied if he deviates from traditional masculine ideas, to panicking over the fact that he might, against my best efforts, buy into those ideas and become a bully himself. The dice seem so loaded any way you roll them – like, I want him to be who he is, and I want him to be brave and stand up for marginalized and oppressed people, but I also want him to always be safe and happy. And I don’t know if I can have it both ways. Not that it’s really up to me – he’ll have to make his own discoveries and choices about himself, and while I can try to pass on my value system to him, I ultimately don’t have any say in who or what he is.

I just want him to know that, as I told my mother, I will love him no matter what his sexuality, no matter what his gender, no matter what, end of sentence, full stop.

I just hope that he always knows that I love him and I’m proud of him.

This. Kid. He just kills me.

This. Kid. He just kills me.

Robin Thicke and the Dynamics of Abuse

23 Jun

TW for domestic violence, abuse and rape

Robin Thicke is gross.

I mean, we knew that already, of course.

But today he has somehow managed to surpass his former grossitude and shot up through the I Can’t Even atmosphere and into the Outer Space Repository of Hella Gross Dudes.

But what could possibly have caused this intense leveling-up, you may well ask. How could he have done something worse than penning the summer’s unofficial rape album?

Well, for starters, he announced the release and official track list of his new album, Paula. Paula, by the way, refers to his estranged wife, Paula Patton. She recently left him. This album is his attempt to win her back.

Let’s take a look at the song titles, shall we?
1. “You’re My Fantasy”

2. “Get Her Back”

3. “Still Madly Crazy”

4. “Lock the Door”

5. “Whatever I Want”

6. “Living in New York City”

7. “Love Can Grow Back”

8. “Black Tar Cloud”

9. “Too Little Too Late”

10. “Tippy Toes”

11. “Something Bad”

12. “The Opposite of Me”

13. “Time of Your Life”

14. “Forever Love”

It’s honestly like reading an abuser’s check-list. She’s his fantasy. He needs to get her back. He’ll isolate her, maybe refuse to let her leave. He’ll lock the door. He’ll do whatever he wants. Because love can grow back. Because it’s a forever love.

These apologies, entreaties, promises and veiled threats are all a typical part of the cycle of abuse.  This is what psychologist Leonore E. Walker calls the “Reconciliation/Honeymoon Phase” – the abuser feels guilty, is contrite. He or she makes grand gestures of their affection, constructs elaborate apologies. They promise never to hurt their loved one again. They might promise to get help (though most likely they won’t). If that doesn’t work, they might threaten suicide or self-injury in order to gain sympathy or otherwise manipulate the situation. They will do literally anything they can to convince their victim not to leave them.

The cycle continues when the abused person, whether out of fear or out of genuine belief that things will get better, decides to reconcile.

All right, you might be saying, some of those track names are pretty questionable, but surely that doesn’t mean that Robin Thicke is an abusive partner, does it?

Well, take that track list in conjunction with the video for his new single “Get Her Back” that Thicke released today, and you might find yourself feeling a little more convinced.

The video is filled with texts that were, we are supposed to believe, exchanged by Thicke and Patton.

Here are the texts supposedly sent by Patton:

“I kept trying to warn you you were pushing me too far…”

“We had everything.”

“Why Why Why Why Why???”

“You drink too much.”

“You embarrassed me.”

“I can’t make love to you anymore.”

“I don’t even know who you are.”

“You ruined everything.”

“I have to go.”

“How could you do that to me?”

“you’re reckless”

And here are Thicke’s texts:

“I’m sorry.”

“Can I talk to you?”

“I hate myself.”

“Can I come see you?” (to which Patton apparently replies “It’s too soon.”)

“I wrote a whole album about you.” (which elicits the response “I don’t care.”)

“I miss u”

“This is just the beginning.”

That last text, by the way, is posted over a blurry image of Thicke walking away, his posture tense, ready for a fight. The words read very much like a threat.

This video is not romantic. It is an attempt by Thicke to use his huge public platform to manipulate and shame his wife into getting back together with him. Now, if she says no, she becomes the bad guy, and he becomes the victim. In fact, he’s already making himself out to be the victim – between his sad I’m-so-awful-and-pathetic texts, and the fact that his face is cut and bloody in the video, he’s doing his best to come off as the poor, heartbroken, sensitive man who’s been left by his mean, unrelenting wife. Sure he may have done some things that contributed to the breakup, but look how sorry he is. Look how willing to make amends. How could she be so cold and hard? And what about their children, don’t they deserve to have their father around?

What Robin Thicke is doing is trying to coerce his wife into coming back to him, by publicly shaming and humiliating her. I have no idea whether the texts in the video were actually from her (though I really, really hope that they’re not), but it doesn’t really matter, because he’s presenting them as hers. He is, as @middle_ladle said on twitter, punishing her for leaving him quietly. He’s exposing her to the world, looking for sympathy. He’s making it harder and hard for her to say no.

In fact, she keeps telling him no, over and over in those texts, and he ignores her requests to leave her alone and just keeps pushing. Because her needs don’t matter to him. All that matters is getting what he wants.

Leaving an abusive partner is the part of the cycle of abuse during which the victim is most vulnerable. Because after they’ve left, the abuser often feels like they have nothing left to lose. This is the point in the cycle when the abused is most likely to be hurt or killed. People wonder why so many victims of domestic violence go back to their abusers, but the sad truth is that often that choice is safer. Leaving is incredibly risky.

What Thicke is doing is threatening and frightening and we need to stop treating it as the ultimate in romance. This is not romantic, not in the slightest. This is abusive, coercive and manipulative. This is what domestic violence looks like, and we’re so accustomed to this type of behaviour that by now it seems totally normal and healthy to us.

It’s not. And we need to acknowledge that.

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