Tag Archives: down with the patriarchy

A New Era of Canadian Sex Work: Interview With Lowell

22 Jun

Last year, Canada passed Bill C-36, a bill that governs sex work. This new law came about after Canada’s previous prostitution laws were struck down in 2013 as being unconstitutional, and the government had only one year to either leave the laws off the books or else create new ones. They chose to go with the latter option, and based their new bill on the so-called Swedish model of prostitution laws. These laws mainly criminalize the buying of sex but not the selling of it, meaning that johns would face the harshest consequences.

In theory, these laws are supposed to protect sex workers and decrease the threat of trafficking and “sexual exploitation”. In practice, they mean that sex workers are able to sell something that no one is legally allowed to buy. These laws also have the end goal of eradicating prostitution, which is not a great solution considering that there are many sex workers who love what they do and feel empowered by it. It’s hard not to feel that while Bill C-36 promises to help people, it will actually be hurting them.

Vice recently released A New Era of Canadian Sex Work, a short documentary hosted by Canadian musician Lowell. Lowell is a particularly good fit for this role, since she worked as a stripper before releasing her first album. She’s also smart, incisive, and thoughtful as she navigates what these new laws mean for sex workers. She approaches the issue from several different angles, first talking to Conservative MP Joy Smith, one of the politicians responsible for pushing through Bill C-36. She then talks to several different women involved in the sex industry, as well as Chester Brown, the author of Paying For It, subtitled a “comic strip memoir of being a john.” Finally, she travels to Nevada to see how the regulated, legal sex work compares to what we have in Canada. The documentary is short, clocking in at just under 35 minutes, but it packs a lot in and is one hundred percent worth watching.

I recently had the chance to talk Lowell, and here’s what she had to say about making the film:

Anne: So how did this happen? Did Vice approach you about making this doc, or did you approach them, or what?

Lowell: Vice approached me to host a documentary in general, and asked me to pick somethign I was interested in. I chose to do the bill because it felt like a really good opportunity to tell my story and our story.

Anne: There’s a really tense moment near the beginning where Joy Smith pretty much looks you in the face and calls you a victim. Like, when you called sex work one of the oldest professions, she immediately jumped in and said it was one of the oldest oppressions. What did it feel like to have her say that to you?

Lowell: First of all, I was like, how do you have this perfect turn of phrase ready? How long did it take her to come up with “one of the oldest oppressions”? That’s really great marketing, I wish I was that quick.

I guess I’m empathetic to the way she feels. I understand where she’s coming from. But if I were not so confident, I would feel like she was taking away everything that i’ve gained back and everything that i’ve been empowered by. Mostly, I wanted to make her understand why what she’s saying is so terrible.

Anne: What do you think motivates people like her?

Lowell:  I think there are ulterior motives that have nothing to do with speaking for women. I want to believe that she believes her personal feminism is good for women, but I also think there are a lot of rich, white Christian people with power trying to step into the lives of people who don’t have those privileges. And they do all this without identifying any of the social reasons why people might do sex work. Saving people who don’t want to be saved doesn’t work. You can’t indoctrinate your own brand of morals into people who don’t want them.

Anne: How do the new laws impact people buying sex?

Lowell: When they’re caught, they have to go to “john school,” where they’re taught that sex workers are exploited victims. Really, the whole program is based around women being victims. Which is nothing new.

Anne: Yeah, there was a part where you talked to a woman who had been arrested a couple of years ago under the old laws and sent to a similar program for sex workers.

Lowell: These programs teach you sex work is wrong, that you’re a dirty person for what you do, and you must hate yourself. And not only that, but there’s no acknowledgment of sexuality or gender – they’re very one size fits all, all women have uteruses, that kind of thing. Which makes them especially awful for anyone who falls outside their ideas of what women who do sex work are like.

Anne: I really loved that one of the women you spoke to was a trans woman. Was it important for you to be inclusive?

Lowell: It’s an inclusive topic. When it comes to transgender women, women of colour, those are the people affected the most by the law. These women are often not able to work in strip clubs, which in my experience function as a safe place where people can solicit sex. But strip clubs are more likely to hire white, blond [cis] girls, meaning that people who don’t fit into these categories end up being forced to work on the street. The result is that these laws – which are especially unsafe for people working on the street – end up targeting certain races, poverty levels, genders.

Anne: Tell me a bit about the place that you visited in Nevada, and how that was different from how we treat sex work in Canada. 

Lowell: They call the place I visited a “sex resort,” because you can stay there over night. Contrasting with Canada, it was so much better. It’s clearly a safer way to deal with sex work. I saw women there who had been victimized in the past but wanted to continue doing sex work – they were taught how to empower themselves and given the means to do it safely. That’s huge.

But the thing is, when you talk about legalization, it’s complex. You still have people who are running things and it’s still selective and can alienate certain groups. Decriminalization is for sure the safest way to approach sex work, but it doesn’t solve everything.

Anne: When you talked to Joy Smith, she said that only two percent of people doing sex work feel empowered about it. What do you think of that number?

Lowell: I think it must be nice to be a politician and just make up statistics to prove whatever you want. 

The truth is that we don’t have those numbers. We don’t have concrete numbers about how many sex workers are abused, and part of it is that there are lots of barriers to reporting abuse. 

Anne: What about numbers that reflect, like, job satisfaction among sex workers? Like, how many of them actually feel good about what they do?

Lowell: I don’t even think anyone’s ever asked. If we had that data, then we wouldn’t be able to use victim porn as a way to get people to vote for things.

Anne: How do you think we can make sure that all voices are heard in this conversation? I know that one of the biggest concerns about being pro-sex work is that it ignore the people who have been legitimately hurt by trafficking or abuse. How do we make sure those people aren’t being erased?

Lowell: I personally think to make it easier for the average person comprehend by putting an emphasis on the actual rape laws work – how police approach rape, how they approach assault, and trafficking. We need to train the police to work better with survivors.

Blending sex work and brutality together to make it seem like we’re ignoring people who are being abused, but people who are empowered aren’t taking anything from people who have been victimized. Laws like Bill C-36 make it seem like you have to choose who you want to support – the victims, or the people out in the streets who like their work. But you don’t get to choose who has human rights. Everyone has rights. It’s the government’s job to treat every person equally when it comes to safety and their rights.

26lowell-oloizia-videoSixteenByNine600

Advertisements

Dear Everyone: Here’s Why I Don’t Want To Read Your Crappy Opinions On What Mothers Should Do

25 Mar

Earlier today, Lydia Lovric, a Montreal-based “columnist, talk-radio host, stay-at-home mom,” wrote a scornful response to piece from 2013 about why Sasha Emmons chooses to work outside of the home. Don’t ask me why Lovric is responding to a two year old article, because I’m as baffled as you are. I’m sure she has her reasons, such as maybe she some type of wizard who exists outside of the linear bounds of time and space; this would explain why she is writing about the evils of mothers who work outside the home in 2015.

You guys, it’s 2015. It has been two thousand and fifteen years since the alleged birth of Christ and we are still having this goddamn argument about whether or not a mother is morally obligated to stay home with her kids, should finances permit. And as much as it’s tempting to write off Lovric as a Throw-Back Thursday with outdated opinions, the truth is that the question of mothers working outside the home is still burning up parenting blogs, websites and message boards. As far as parenting wank goes, the debate about whether or not mothers should stay home is right up there with breastfeeding, circumcision and cloth diapering. Lovric is certainly not alone in her belief that women who choose to work are selfish.

There is nothing more disheartening to me than watching women tear each other down, especially within the context of parenting. It’s sad and it’s gross and it’s the purest example of internalized misogyny that there is. There’s no benefit to these discussions; they’re just endless cycles of women shitting on other women’s happiness and security under the guise of concern for The Children. What’s even more enraging is how gendered these arguments are – even when they say that it’s best for “a parent” to stay home with their kids, what they really mean is mother.

I’m not going to get into the layers and layers of privilege that have allowed Lovric to write this article. I’m not going to address her claim that “you need not be rich in order to live off one income.” I’m only going to mention in passing how fucking shitty it is to refer to a mother as “absent” because she works outside the home – I’ll just say that I know my fair share of absent parents, and I promise you they are not out there working to pay the bills and feed their kids. I’m not even going to discuss the fact that plenty of single mothers raise their kid on one income and, by necessity rather than choice, work outside of the home. Instead, I’m going to talk about how gross and oppressive our persistent cultural biases about motherhood are.`

No one ever says that fathers are selfish for working outside the home.

No one is writing think pieces about how “absent fathers” letting strangers raise their kids just so that they can pursue an enjoyable and fulfilling career.

No dads are out there penning thoughtful letters to their children about why they chose to work. If they were, they’d probably read something like this:

Dear Daughter,

I chose to work after you were born because it literally never occurred to me to do otherwise. I certainly did not consider disrupting everything I have known and loved about my life outside of the home because I decided to have kids. I do not feel guilt or shame for my decision, because why would I?

Much love,

Dad

As a culture, we have a weird obsession with women being “selfish.” Mothers especially are prone to accusations of selfishness any time they make a choice that doesn’t directly and obviously benefit their children. Even when mothers are encouraged to practice self-care, it’s often approached with the idea that feeling happy and rested will make them better partners and parents. And while that may be true, why can’t a woman ever just be happy for her own damn self? Dudes don’t need to come up with excuses for why they should be able to do things they enjoy, and women shouldn’t either.

And by the way, here’s a list of the reasons Emmons gave for going back to work that Lovric found “selfish”:

“I work because I love it.”

“I work because scratching the itch to create makes me happy, and that happiness bleeds over into every other area, including how patient and engaged and creative a mother I am.”

“I work because this nice house and those gymnastics lessons and those sneakers you need to have are all made possible by two incomes.”

“I work because I want you and your brother to be proud of me.”

So: just to clarify, Emmons is selfish because she enjoys her job, a dual income helps pay for the lifestyle her family enjoys, and she hopes that the work she does will make her children proud of her.

In what world is it selfish to love your job? What is it about women specifically that makes them terrible people if they aren’t prioritizing their children 24/7? I mean, yes of course parenting involves some amount of sacrifice, but the idea that you should only live for your children is a pretty dangerous road to go down and, again, not one that any dudes are being told they have to travel.

Lovric’s counter to all of Emmons’ selfish reasons for working includes the following:

“I stay home because although writing and radio did make me extremely happy, I knew that you seemed happier when I was around. And your happiness was more important to me than my own. And making you happy also made me happy.”

“I stay home because I want you to learn that family and love are more important than material possessions. A large home or fancy sneakers will not make up for an absent mother.”

“I stay home because I want you and your brothers to be proud of me because I gave up something I truly loved in order to put you first.”

In short: a healthy relationship dynamic between a parent and child does not involve the parent supporting their child financially by working outside the home, but does include expecting your children to appreciate the fact that you made the ultimate life sacrifice for them.

I am just so exasperated by the continuing circle of shaming mothers for whatever choices they make. It seems like no matter what, the conclusion is always “MOMS: STILL PRETTY MUCH THE WORST?” It’s the 21st century and at the very least we can all agree that we want to raise kids who are proud of us, so let’s work on building each other up us parents and caregivers and mentors instead of fighting to push each other off the Pedestal of Motherhood. We’ll all be better for it.

10378909_10154708917650215_1946040527343431414_n

Guest Post: On Being a Trans Woman and Crossing the Bathroom Line

20 Feb

By Xeph Kalma

I don’t work for a big company. It’s tech, and it’s a small office, and everyone knows each other. The people are generally kind, I guess, and frankly, I mostly feel like I should just be so gosh darn happy to even have a job me that I shouldn’t have any problems with the situation there.

I tell myself that I should just deal with the constant microaggressions, the misgendering, the fact that no one speaks to me unless they have to; I should get used to the fact that I basically get treated like garbage there, because HEY, LET’S BE REAL. As a trans woman of colour, I am literally super, duper, lucky I have a job. Not kidding. Look at the stats. Probably the only reason I’m employed right now is because I started transitioning while at this company.

So I guess what I really mean is that I’m lucky I haven’t been fired yet.

How fucked up is it to say that I, a professional of 10 odd years, I feel sincerely, honestly, lucky to be considered employable? But that’s the honest truth for me and other trans women of colour; our lives are so precarious that it seems like anything and everything could be taken away in a hot second.

Before coming out/while presenting as male, I had no problems finding work. I spent seven years working in South Korea, then came back to Canada and worked for several more. Whenever I left a job, I was always able to find something new, and quickly. I’m good at what I do.

So when I took out a bank loan, I didn’t really think twice about it. I mean, I was always going to have a job, right? So I didn’t worry about not being able to pay it back.

But now pretty much all I think about is the possibility of losing my job, and the huge challenges I would face if I had to find another one.

You might be wondering how I could lose my job – especially if I’m as talented and hard-working as I say. But here’s the thing: while talented and hard-working helped keep me safe when I presented as male, they don’t mean much now that I’m out as trans. Since I started transitioning, nothing I do seems to make my boss happy. I told myself I’d just keep my head down, nose to the grindstone, and hopefully go unnoticed. Unfortunately, that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped; I’m the trans elephant in the room. Even if no talks to me anymore, everyone still notices me.

I told myself, “Just get work hard and get it done. Be true to yourself, carry on with transitioning, work hard.”

I’ve tried to do these things.

But recently I’ve crossed a line.

You see, with all the work I’ve done in transitioning, things started to get really weird in the men’s washroom at work. My co-workers never said anything, but our office is in a complex, and the bathrooms are shared. I began feeling very unsafe in the bathroom whenever there someone else was in there. I started to become very acutely aware of when other people were using the washroom; I trained my ears to the sound of people going and out, so I could use it while it was empty.

Sometimes people would be in there longer than I thought possible, or I would get trapped in the stall for longer than I thought possible because I would wait until the space was empty before quickly washing my hands, drying, and getting the hell out of there. It was torturous, but I felt like listening to these dudes take a ten minute shit was better, easier, than them knowing that, I, just being me, was in there with them.

I worked this bathroom system for months, a huge slice of my time at work taken up by watching, waiting, listening, waiting, worrying about getting “caught,” whatever “caught” mean. Then a friend let me know that due to where I was at in my transition and living in Ontario, I could go change my legal gender marker. It felt like the light at the end of the tunnel. I thought that it I presented a legal document to our human resources department, then things would have to change. So I let my employers and workmates know that I had applied for this document. I let them know that I would be using the woman’s washroom and asked them to start using my preferred pronouns (she/her/hers). I asked human resources to help ease everyone into it; I wanted this to be as smooth for everyone as possible.

I asked human resources to tell my officemates I’m legally a woman.

I thought, “This will be easy.”

Which brings us to now.

It’s been over a month getting this legal document declaring my gender to be female, I still get misgendered 100% of the time at work. Everyone – literally everyone – in office is aware that I identify as a woman. They just don’t acknowledge it.

I’ve started using the women’s washroom.

My ears still acutely listen to doors opening and closing, and I end up hiding in stalls until people are done what they’re doing. I’ve noticed the two cis women in my office doing the same thing; they don’t want to run into me either.

I mean, god forbid, I may be taking a minute to enjoy looking at myself in the mirror and being proud of what I’ve accomplished. I might be fixing my makeup.

And just to be clear: I am, and I do.

But the fact that others have changed their habits because they’re scared to see me in the washroom hurts. It hurts to be treated if I’m not a woman, or not even human for that matter. But what strangely hurts the most is that I seriously, actually, believed that a different letter on my ID would change something.

So I’m worried about losing my job. They can’t legally fire me for using the women’s washroom, but there are other ways, you know? Totally legal ways to get rid of me and make it look like it wasn’t discrimination. These thoughts colour my every action and interaction at work; I’m always on my guard.

That’s what it’s like to be the only trans person in the office, I guess.

I just want cis folk to know something. If you’re cis, I want you to read the following, digest it, try to understand it:

If you ever run into someone who might not visually match the gender of the washroom you’ve found them in, just chill. They are probably way, way, way more scared of you, than you of them. Scared of losing their job, scared of not being able to find employment again, scared of losing housing, scared of having to even look someone in the eye/talk to them. Don’t say anything; just leave us be. We’ll be on our way in no time.

Chances are, especially if we’re alone, we didn’t even want you to find us there.

10991067_10152581276771583_8032961374066055258_n

Xeph, while mainly being of this world, has spent a large amount of time occupying space in others, and hopes she brought back the best aspects of those other places with her. She’s now committed to somehow, possibly, making this world a better space. She has a background in Earthly psychology and tech, and spent many years passing on communication skills to others. One of the main things she’s learned is, animals are better than people.

The Bronomicon

19 Dec

Do you often find yourself in need of the perfect portmanbro – that is to say, a portmanteau created by combining an existing word with the word bro? If so, I present you with the bronomicon* – a lexicon containing a selection of perfect bro terms. A lesson in brocution, if you will. Please feel free to add your own brophemisms in the comments.

Bro-down – A type of bro folk dance, or an event that has many bros in attendance.

Bro-Choice, Bro-Life – Bros who value the lives and well-being of other bros over literally everything else.

Brocrastination – Avoiding work by engaging in aggressively bro-like activities, such as cat-calling or shot-gunning a beer.

Broetry – The style of poetry composed by bros. Defined by Monica Lita Storss as “a gorgeous male tribalism that reaches deep through shared history and experience, to a place beyond the snap of a hot August cross-breeze and tilted beers.” (via @meghanlbell)

Brofessional – a bro that has pupated into a Suit (via @MaraWritesStuff)

Brogrammers – Computer programming bros; often seen tweeting stupid shit about ethics in games journalism.

Brogressives, Brocialists and Manarchists – the keffiyeh and horned rim glasses wearing bros who like to get involved with any and all social justice movements, if by “get involved” you mean “try their damnedest to take over”

Brohemians – Trust fund bros slumming it in cheap incense-stinking apartments, smoking weed and writing bad prose. Brohemians are often (though not always) white dudes with dreadlocks. (via @JonahPMix)

Brojolais – A bro’s favourite wine (via @oytamarind)

Broletariat – The horde of working class bros; can be shortened to “broles.”

Broligarchy – A form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of bros, most often distinguished by the power of their bro-ness. (via @theskyisblack)

Bro-magnon – An un-evolved bro. A brototype of a bro. (via @RonArsenault)

Bromance – A beautiful romance between bros; not necessarily sexual, often just a meeting of the bro minds.

Bromarillion – An extensive, gratingly pretentious narrative about the origin of bros. (via @nataliezed)

Bromosexual – A bro who is exclusively attracted to other bros, whether he’s willing to admit it or not.

Bropocalypse – When the bros finally bring about the end times. Think Walking Dead, but with less zombies and more bros. (via @quaintmagazine)

Bropossum – An opossum who also happens to be a bro. The “bro” is silent. (via @theschwasound)

Brotesque – An adjective often used to describe something both horrible and bro-like. (via @SofiaSamatar)

Brotocracy – A political philosophy which holds that power should be invested in individuals almost exclusively according to their bro-ness. For example, the indie literary scene is a total brotocracy.

Brotographer – A sensitive bro with an eye for composition. Spends all of his money on film equipment; will lecture you for hours about what lenses he uses to achieve various effects. Boring as fuck. (via @OpheliaInWaders)

Brotox – A term for the form of toxic masculinity experienced by bros. (via @thesuncannon)

Broverdose – When you’ve had to endure too many bros. (via @LadySnarksalot)

Higgs Broson – Otherwise known as the “bro particle,” it is the elementary particle that proves the existence of a bro. (via @mgpcoe)

MacBook Bro – The preferred computer of the bro nation. (via @bicyclecomics)

Mangst – A special kind of angst specific to the modern white male; widely believed by modern white males to be the worst, most gnawing type of anxiety. (via @macomeau)

Famous bros:

Broseph Stalin

Napoleon Bronaparte

Brover Cleveland

Theodore Broosevelt

Manlet and Brophelia

Brometheus

*The term bronomicon is via @aproposnothing

3-The-Overly-Manly-Bro

The Feminist Killjoy Gift Guide

8 Dec

Shopping for that special feminist someone in your life? Or maybe just looking to gift something to yourself because no one else is going to get you what you really want? Or maybe you’re just looking to support some awesome indie artists this holiday season. Whatever it is you’re here for, we’ve got you covered!

1. “This Princess Saves Herself” Necklace

Perfect for the man-hating video game aficionado in your life! Fuck waiting around for Mario, slay Bowser yourself like the bad-ass bitch you are.

il_570xN.618163030_2d44

Buy it on Etsy

2. “I Woke Up Like This” Tank Top

Channel your inner Beyoncé with this Instagram-worthy shirt. Because you are flawless, like a diamond! Although let’s be real no one else is quite as flawless as Queen Bey.

il_570xN.626285954_qebh

Buy it on Etsy

3. Pronoun Patches

Do some of the people in your life need a reminder of what your pronouns are? Would you prefer tapping a patch on your jacket to actually explaining again to some jerk-face stranger which pronouns you use? Or maybe these appeal to you Just Because. Whatever reason you might have for wanting them, these patches are pretty adorable.

il_570xN.566265507_an53

Buy it on Etsy

4. “Misandry” Hand-Stamped Bracelet

Because sometimes you want to dress up your man-hating ways. Perfect for a gallery opening, a fancy dinner party, or an awkward work function!

il_570xN.591747796_timb

Buy it on Etsy

5. “Go Away” Toque*

Perfect for the days when you want to leave the house and not come off as “an approachable girl who wants to hear about a man’s feelings.” Or when you want to read a damn book in public without having a bunch of dudes sally up to you and tell you how literary you are. Or just whenever, because being alone is awesome.

*Toque is Canadian-speak for knit cap, or winter hat, or whatever the rest of you weirdos call it

il_570xN.559434235_guzk

Buy it on Etsy

6. Ada Lovelace T-Shirt

Celebrate the first programmer, Ada Lovelace, and show those brogrammers what’s what.

il_570xN.685926345_amyp

Buy it on Etsy

7. “Riot Grrrl” Sweater Brooch Set

For your extensive collection of cardigans, and because you firmly believe in riots not diets.

il_570xN.422098049_luom

Buy it on Etsy

7. “Fuck The Patriarchy” Banner

Because your Great-Aunt Doris is coming to visit, and you need to spruce up the place a bit. This store also has banners that say “Merry Fucking Christmas” and “Get Shit Done.” I approve of their cussiness!

il_570xN.668601871_hg1u

Buy it on Etsy

8. “A is for Audre Lorde” Tote Bag

Use this sunny yellow tote to remind everyone that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. You can also use it to remind yourself that you cannot be free while any other woman is unfree, even if her shackles are different from your own. Or just use it for your grocery shopping. Whatever.

il_570xN.621647418_6s6r

Buy it on Etsy

9. “Intersectional Liberation” Necklace

Because if your feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s nothing but bullshit.

il_570xN.540352572_ntt1

Buy it on Etsy

10. “Don’t Tell Me To Smile” T-Shirt

No one is going to tell THIS bear she’d look prettier if she smiled. At least, not if they value their lives.

il_570xN.684687785_4j5o

Buy it on Etsy

11. “Male Tears” Teapot

Concoct your favourite brew of male tears in this adorable pot. Or just use it to steep your Earl Grey (hot), whatever floats your boat.

il_570xN.694435678_j2um

Buy it on Etsy

12. “Transphobia Isn’t Cute” Embroidery

A gentle reminder to your guests that you’re not going to tolerate transphobic bullshit. Because feminism isn’t feminism if it’s only for cis folk.

il_570xN.692192148_chxi

Buy it on Etsy

13. “Girls Don’t Like Boys, Girls Like Aliens And Dana Scully” Sweatshirt

BECAUSE MULDER IS THE LITERAL WORST AND SCULLY IS OUR PATRON SAINT OF PUTTING UP WITH SELF-INVOLVED DUDES

394atb-w484h484z1-58283-girls-dont-like-boys-girls-like-aliens-and-dana-scully

Buy it on Look Human

14. “Fat Babe” Necklace

Fuck yeah you are a babe and you are fat and now you can let everyone know BOTH of those things with this sparkly necklace.

il_570xN.611050925_i85p

Buy it on Etsy

15. #Snacklife Uterus Poster

I don’t even know what is happening here, but I keep bursting into giggles every time I look at this picture so obviously I need to include it here.

12811_10154944485975215_4753579650263696382_n

Buy it on Etsy

16. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Mug

Perfect for sipping male tears/coffee/whatever elixir Ginsburg drinks every morning to help her kick ass all day long.

il_570xN.694341307_bifr

Buy it on Etsy

17. “Cats Against Cat Calls” Tote Bag

Thank god the cats are on our side because honestly I don’t know what we’d do without them.

il_570xN.685230759_tqxy

Buy it on Etsy

18. “Books Against Body-Shaming” Sweatshirt

Because reading is AWESOME and body-shaming SUCKS so why are we even having this conversation?

394triblk-w484h484z1-54036-books-against-body-shaming

Buy it on Look Human

19. “Ew No” Necklace

I am a sucker for anything with a deer on it and that goes double for a pretty necklace telling people to respect your boundaries

il_570xN.481455116_ljq8

Buy it on Etsy

20. “Colouring Outside The Kitchen” Colouring Book

Get your Crayola on with the likes of Josephine Baker, Nellie Bly, Rachel Carson, Soong Ching-Ling, Hillary Clinton, Claudette Colvin, Marie Curie, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Indira Gandhi, Emma Goldman, Sheikh Hasina, Billie Holiday, Mae Jemison, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Frida Kahlo, Billie Jean King, Tina Modotti, Annie Oakley, Michelle Obama, Georgia O’Keeffe, Yoko Ono, Betty Shabazz, and Madame C. J. Walker.

il_570xN.521225047_pr9c

Buy it on Etsy

22. Hypatia of Alexandra Necklace

Celebrate the original woman in STEM with this gorgeous handmade necklace. It gives you the chance to take a deep breath and say “WELL!” whenever someone asks you who that lady hanging between your boobs is.

il_570xN.690557909_8s29

Buy it on Etsy

23. Pink Middle Fingers T-Shirt

Re-defining the term “lady fingers” – they’re not just a fancy British cookie anymore.

il_570xN.660980153_8mq1

Buy it on Etsy

24. “Literally Anything Before Bros” Necklace

This pretty much says it all. Cats before bros. Wizards before bros. Old rubber boots before bros. Literally anything.

il_570xN.694585060_6a5a

Buy it on Etsy

25. “Valar Morghulis” Phone Case

Because when you’re busy texting in order to ignore a dude, you really want him to remember that YES ALL MEN.

Hopefully he’s a Game of Thrones fan.

iphone5sn-w484h484z1-59432-valar-morghulis-yes-all-men

Buy it on Look Human

26. “Be The Leslie Knope Of Whatever You Do”

Be committed, be kind, be funny and suspend your disbelief enough to put a positive spin on whatever situation you find yourself stuck in.

il_570xN.686067275_7h69

Buy it on Etsy

27. Wonder Woman Evening Bag

For those nights where you want to be fancy, but you still want to stay true to your comic book nerd roots.

il_570xN.360775229_h74m

Buy it on Etsy

28. “Seahorses Against Gender Roles” Shirt

Because the male seahorse is the one to go through pregnancy and childbirth. Seahorses: fucking up gender roles since whenever it was they evolved?

bb453wp-w484h484z1-48698-seahorses-against-gender-roles

Buy it on Look Human

29. Vintage Feminist Button Print Infinity Scarf

Feeling a little too grownup to plaster yourself with buttons, but still want a way to broadcast your ideologies? Off to a black-tie event and need something to spruce up that little black dress? Whatever the need, this colourful scarf is perfect for pretty much any occasion and is as adorable as it is aggressively political.

il_570xN.681344028_mn6a

Buy it on Etsy

30. Feminist Harry Potter Shirts

For the feminist Potter-head in your life. This one is a twofer: the Marauder’s Map-inspired “I Solemnly Swear That I Will Smash The Patriarchy” I and the heck-yeah-I-need-this “The Fucks I Give Are Like Horcruxes – Very Few And Hard To Find.”

2408blk-w484h484z1-46412-i-solemnly-swear-that-i-will-smash-the-patriarchy-gradient

Buy it on Look Human

2408atg-w484h484z1-61079-the-fucks-i-give-are-like-horcruxes-very-few-and-hard-to-find

Buy it on Look Human

Guest Post: On Attention Deficit Disorder, Video Games and Community

30 Nov

This is a guest post written by my amazing little sister, Catherine Thériault. She is a complete treasure.

I was seven when I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, although my parents had suspected since I was three or four that I might have it. I had all of the classic symptoms – difficulty focussing, poor impulse control, and a mind that was easily distracted by, well, anything. I had some of the lesser-known symptoms, too. For example, high-pitched noises really bothered me. Another behaviour that I exhibited, which my mother would often use to prove to ADD-non-believers (you know, the ones who say that it doesn’t exist, that it’s just kids being kids or else kids who have watched too much TV) that I did in fact have ADD was my ability to hyper-focus. I was especially good at hyper-focusing on video games.

School was tough. I couldn’t sit still. I constantly spoke to the people around me until I was moved to the very back or front of the room, where I couldn’t bother others. I struggled all day long trying to understand, trying to “get it”. My mom usually wasn’t there yet when I got home; our neighbour babysat me for a while, and then when my sister watched me when she was old enough. I loved the hours before my mom came home from work, because that was leisure time; after she got home was homework time, and I would have to spend hours on the “homework couch” trying to focus enough to get my assignments done. During leisure time, I would sit and play Mario, Tetris, or Looney Tunes on my NES. I could happily play those games for hours and hours and hours.

People don’t get it – they didn’t understand why I could focus on this one thing, but not other things. They would say stuff like, “How come you can’t even pay attention long enough to listen to the answer to a question you just asked me, but you can play video games without interruption for hours?”

The answer is simple: video games are my anchor. They are the one thing in my life that can make my brain settle down. The rest of the time, my brain is distracted by everything the world around me. Any sound or image that comes along, no matter how minor, sidetracks my attention. It’s a constant flood of things gaining my attention for seconds, then comes something else, and then something else, and something else. Think of it like this: my brain doesn’t have a secretary, but yours does. Your brain can decide that a conversation is more important than the bird that just flew by the window. Your brain will let you do a page of math problems without suddenly noticing that your pencil case needs to be rearranged RIGHT NOW. But when I play video games, it’s like I have blinders on. There’s so much going on in the game, and it’s all happening at once, and I get to pay attention to a lot of things at one time. So when I’m in my video game world, I am so deeply focussed on everything that’s happening in it that I can’t be distracted by the outside world. To be totally honest, it’s a complete relief. It feels like my brain finally gets to take a break.

I started an online game 6 years ago called World of Warcraft. You may have heard of it. The company that makes it, Blizzard, gets a lot of heat in the news, because some of their players take things too far, sometimes starving themselves or even killing themselves over the game. Sometimes people who play WoW get violent in real life. Some of the men who play treat female players badly. And this is the kind of stuff that makes the new – all of the awful stuff. So people who don’t play video games sometimes get the impression that games make you violent or make you hate women.

What you don’t hear about on the new are the average people who play video games. They have families, jobs, and lives outside of the game. I have a job. I go to college. I have a successful relationship. I also have a level 100 warlock that I use to kill in-game monsters and sometimes other players who have signed up for a fight against me. But what I really love is the player-versus-player aspect of the game. That part is all about teamwork, communication, and outsmarting other players. These are skills that help me in real life. That’s the part of the game that the media never really mentions.

When people speak badly about gaming, and the gaming community, I have a tendency to get defensive and take it personally. Because to me, it is personal. There’s a person I have played with in WoW almost daily for the last 4 or 5 years. His character’s name is Wilsons and he is a deathknight. He has helped me level all my characters to max level, helped me get items in the game. There are others who have helped me along the way too. Hawtsoss, a druid, helped me get better at player-vs-environment stuff (like killing the game-generated monsters). Evarella, a paladin, helped me get better at the player-vs-player stuff. These people are my friends. When you say bad things about the gaming community, you are speaking badly about these people who help me, and that I enjoy playing and speaking with. You are speaking badly about my friends.

You’re not usually speaking about me though, because I’m probably not what you would think of as an average player. I’m not some dude living in his mom’s basement; I’m a woman. Which is where the greatest failing in my community is. Women. People treat me differently because I am a woman. I have been kicked from groups requiring voice chat when they hear me and realize they’ve been playing with a woman. I have been told to get back to the kitchen. I’ve had people ask me for nudes. The list goes on I’m sure. But I just ignore those players. Literally, there’s an ignore button, and I use it. It’s not a perfect fix, and I know that there’s a lot to be done to improve how women are viewed in the gaming world, but it’s how I get by. I ignore the woman-haters, and then I prove them wrong by being really awesome at what I do.

At the end of the day, I love video games, especially World of Watrcraft. I have over 100 days of time spent playing the game. There are more good players then bad, and the good ones make it worth it every time. The ones who explain stuff, who help you out. They are the ones I consider a part of the gaming community. Communities help people. Communities are accepting and inclusive.

The problem isn’t video games; it’s the vocal minority of people who use death threats and bomb threats to scare off women in video games. These are the guys who tell you that you can’t be a nerd of a gamer because you’re a girl. These are the guys who tell you that you must be bad at gaming just because you’re a girl. These are the guys who think girls are only useful if they’re sending them nudes. But these people are not a part of my community. They are a cancer, making things bad for all of us who aren’t like them. Please fight this cancer and not my community. They may be sexist, racist, cruel. Fight the sexism, fight the racism, fight the cruelty and the bullying. But don’t say that “all gamers are ___”. They aren’t. Yes, some of them are terrible. But they’re people like me, who turned to gaming as an escape from the exhausting cycle of ADD thoughts and through that found a place where I felt like I belonged. They’re people like my boyfriend, who shares my passion for WoW and will spend hours talking about stupid little details in the games with me. They’re people like my friends, who have helped me and been there for me and who feel like part of my family. That’s who gamers are, too.

Catherine Thériault, right, with sister Anne Thériault

Catherine Thériault, right, with sister Anne Thériault

Guest Post – On Orientalism

20 Nov

By Israa Nasir

It was around 10pm on a summer night, a few years ago. I was waiting on Queen West for a friend. We were going to head out to a party like any other twenty-something on a weekend. A man approached me and asked if I worked in the ‘entertainment industry’. When I said no, he told me that I had a “really good look for this stuff”. He introduced himself as a film-producer and continued to tell me that his next project was looking for exotic, middle-eastern-looking women and that the pay would be really good (side note: I’m not middle-eastern). As I began to walk away while refusing his offer, he shoved a card into my hand and told me to think about it. I turned the card in my hands and saw that he was indeed a film-producer; he produced pornography, specializing in ‘oriental and exotic girls’. Feeling confused, my thoughts ran something like this: Am I really ‘exotic’? What does that even mean? I’d never thought of myself that way before so should I accept his comment as a compliment? Wait, or does he mean that I’m different; like a zoo animal, an ostrich amongst the crowds of pale-skinned blondes?

The idea of ‘exotic other-ness’, especially for women, exists in all areas of society where sex and sexuality are concerned. In the world of pornography, it is most visible, most at display, most lucrative. If you walk into any adult entertainment store, videos are often categorized by race and then broken down by category. A quick search online will give you the same results. Women of colour or racialized backgrounds are shown as hyper-sexualized and promiscuous. There is a sense of stereotyped fantasy based on old ideas about what a woman of that ethnicity should be like: a black woman is ghetto and must have a “big booty”, a Latina is feisty, a South Asian must have memorized The Kama Sutra, and an East Asian is submissive yet kinky simultaneously. The plot lines, if present at all, revolve around racist imagery and situations. These fantasy generalizations also show women of colour as lusty and not having control over their desires. These are women who have to be liberated sexually and are willing to do anything. These are women who are different from the status quo, the majority of white women.

Many argue that this is just a venue for people to experience or live out their fantasies. The problem with that idea is that this is not the sexual reality of black, East Asian, South Asian, Latina or other women of colour. People who watch porn regularly argue that they recognize it is not reality, they recognize that real sex with real women is different, and that they can draw the line between sex and porn. As a woman of colour, I disagree with them. These ideas about racialized sexuality and the fantasy find their way into real-life conversations about sexuality and discussions with friends, causal hook-ups and even people you regularly have sex with. These race-specific genres of porn muddle expectations, the ones men hold of potential sexual partners as well as ethnic women themselves. It adds another layer of questioning to already present complexities women experience in asserting their sexualities. Besides thinking about what society will say about our sex lives and how our bodies look from various angles, now women of colour have to think about if they are ‘mysterious and different’ enough, if they are meeting the expectations set by porn. With so much going on, focusing on pleasure and what they want can potentially become secondary.

For the remainder of that night, I couldn’t help but wonder if every guy there saw me as ‘exotic’; that man’s thought had found its way into mine. In the years that followed, I came up against this perception more times than I appreciate. I find this frustrating because it is a fabricated element in my reality; it changes the way people experience me. Simply put, it creates an aura of objectification in every aspect of daily life. However, It’s hard to say which influences the other. Is it the seeping of porn-ideals into mainstream culture, or is it mainstream ideas finding their way into porn? I think they are two sides of the same coin. Mainstream media saturates us with objectified ideals and stereotypes of women of colour; but these ideas are limited to interpersonal, ‘regular’, or daily situations. Characters like Gloria from ‘Modern Family’, or Latika in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ speak to what life is supposed to look like for women of colour, but doesn’t really explore their sexualities. This gap is filled by the porn-industry, which provides a glimpse into what the sexual lives of these women of colour is supposed to be like. Combined, both these powerful mediums present a completely fantasized version of a woman of colour. The danger lies in the fact that when a fantasy is presented to you, already complete, it is hard to imagine it as existing otherwise.

Israa Nasir

Israa Nasir