On Jian Ghomeshi and our Society’s Collective Amnesia

So how long do we think it will be before Jian Ghomeshi is back in the public sphere with his dignity intact? Most people, having heard Kathryn Borel speak the other day, think it will never happen. But happen it will.

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Our society has a unique way of forgiving men for sexual assaults. There is a whole long line of celebrities who continue to make films, sell music and do stand up comedy who are pedophiles and serial rapists. In fact, if you compare someone like Ghomeshi to Bill Cosby, the former is a minor player. Or look at Woody Allen – not only did he sexually abuse his children he married his adopted daughter and people still flock to his movies and other celebrities line up behind him. Or Michael Jackson who was charged with pedophilia and he paid off the parents of numerous of children for things that happened behind the closed doors of Neverland. He has now taken Elvis’ title as the King. There has even been work (and redemption) for Mike Tyson after he served jail time for rape.

What does this say about our society? Well clearly we value men far more than we value women. Men are allowed to get away with raping, assaulting and sodomizing women and children and they will still have careers. They may have to say a few mea culpas, appear to do the right thing (counselling anyone??) and then they will have their lives back.

I am not saying that Jian Ghomseshi is on the same level as the other so-called celebrities (or rapists as I like to call them). He is not as talented and he was in a small, backwater market. He will come out of this no doubt and we will all be there to welcome him back. Well, except me, I won’t be. I am pledging here and now that I will boycott anything and anyone who has anything to do with Jian Ghomeshi ever again in the same way I boycott Woody Allen, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Mike Tyson, Roman Polanski…

Are you with me?

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This is a real thing in the world: The emotional eating prevention bra

 

Is Walter White guilty of emotional eating?

Is Walter White guilty of emotional eating?

Microsoft, the company that is famous for making expensive and bad operating systems, has now decided to turn its collective hive mind to prevent the scourge of emotional eating in women by making a smart bra. Because of course us lady folk are not able to tell the difference between eating for hunger and eating because we have an emotion. According to Microsoft:

The research is based on the idea that people eat not just when they are hungry but also for a host of emotional and habitual reasons. The goal was to provide a system that could intervene before the person turns to food for emotional support.

The trope this device is pandering to is that women are so overtaken by our emotions that we need something to intervene and tell us we are emotional before we raid the refrigerator. As slaves to our emotions, we are also, apparently, slaves to eating. We don’t eat only when we are hungry, we eat to cope with all sorts of things. Here is a great example from the article:

Sally has been home from work for a few hours, and she finds herself rather bored. An application on Sally’s mobile phone has also detected that she is bored by reading her physiological state through wearable sensors. Since this mobile application has previously learned that Sally is most susceptible to emotional eating when she is bored, the application provides an intervention to distract Sally and hopefully prevent her from eating at that moment.

In this lovely example, ‘Sally’ needs some gadget to tell her that she is bored and she should not run to the kitchen for a snack. She is unable to regulate her own behaviour or have insight into it. I am sure ‘Sally’ has a fully functioning brain that can easily discern the difference between eating because she is hungry versus eating because she is bored.

Emotional eating prevention?

Emotional eating prevention?

The very idea that women need to wear a special bra that will measure our heart rate and level of perspiration to alert us that we shouldn’t eat right now as it would be for emotional reasons is ludicrous. First, the very idea that feeling complex emotions could be reduced to sensing how much we sweat or increases in our heart beat is ridiculous. A woman could be out for a walk or laughing hysterically or doing stuff around the house only to have her bra beep at her warning her against emotional eating. The idea that women’s (or men’s) emotional response could be reduced to physical symptoms is incredibly simplistic and insulting.

Conflating food intake with emotional response panders to the worst tropes about women. The idea that we are all ruled by our emotions and stuffing our faces with food as a means to cope is demeaning. This device seeks to be a solution without a bona fide problem. It casts women as beings ruled only by emotion engaging in destructive behaviour without any idea of what they are doing. I think every person (in first world countries anyway) has eaten when they are upset or bored. But this device is only being marketed to women. Interestingly to have the machine learn your emotional patterns, women would use a mobile app to “to log their mood and food intake. There were reminded via text to log emotion every hour, at least ten times per day.” So pretty much for every waking hour women would be slave to this app. This is just another, in a  long line of things, that seek to make women tractable thereby reducing our effectiveness in our professions and other activities.

The other message contained her is that it is only women who engage in inappropriate emotional eating. There is no companion her and his devices; no boxers or ‘tighty whiteys’ with the same device.* Or perhaps the developers think that it is only people with boobs who have an emotional eating problem.

There are so many messages women receive on a daily basis that tell us we are not good enough, thin enough, beautiful enough nor smart enough. Now we need wear a special bra that will connect with our phones to deliver yet another message of how we don’t measure up. This device is yet another thing to police women ensuring that we are slaves to self-improvement lest we take our energy and focus it somewhere else like challenging the very structures and messages that keep us down.

The one sliver of hope here is that the device is being developed by Microsoft. The chances of it actually working as advertised are slim. And, even if it sort of works Microsoft will update the operating system and eliminate the ‘Start Button.’

*As I am writing this, I am getting a vision of Walter White in Breaking Bad in the first couple of episodes where he strips off his pants and cooks meth in his underwear. I can just imagine him wearing one of these devices as he is sweating in the New Mexico heat and his device going off, reminding him to log his food and emotional state while it is telling him that he needs to put the Cheetos down because he is emotional right now!

Published in: on December 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rape Prevention Clothing

Late last night, this came across my feed. My interest was peaked but my feminist anger was brewing. So the idea of this clothing is that it is meant to be there for women in the event that the unthinkable happens and they come into contact with a rapist. Take a look at any list of ‘helpful’ tips for women to prevent rape. None of the tips will prevent a rape except the one that is never mentioned: don’t come into contact with a rapist.

We live in a rape culture. Slut shaming and blaming women who are raped happens all the time. Her skirt was too short, she drank too much, she hung out with the wrong crowd, she had sex before so she must have wanted it now are all familiar refrains to feminists and women who work with women. Now, thanks to AR[1] clothing women have one more thing they can add to the list!

The premise behind this clothing is that it will slow a rapist down as it is hard to get off and made of material that does not cut easily. The first thing that popped into my mind was that impeding a determined rapist will result in the woman suffering more injuries, perhaps even death. Really, the only thing that will protect us from rape is making sure we don’t come into contact with rapists. Most women are raped by men who know them so it is doubtful that they would even be wearing the protective clothing inside their supposedly safe homes.

It is interesting that this has become a thing. I had been thinking that the best way to prevent rape would be for men to wear clothes that do not allow them to have sex when they go out until they can prove they are not rapists. A trusted person would hold on to the key or tool to remove the clothing until the men are safely home and unable to rape a woman. Think about the possibilities! Women would be free to go anywhere we want, do what we want and at any time of the day or night. The government could institute a licensing system whereby good men could prove themselves and not have to wear the rape prevention clothing. Men could go through a graduated licensing system, similar to driver licensing in BC. Now, seriously, this is a campaign I could get behind!


[1] Could the AR stand for anti-rape?

Published in: on November 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm  Comments (1)  

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘enraged’ edition

National Blog Posting Month is a great reason to end the hiatus here at Dispatches from the Swamp. I am not sure why I have let the blog languish for so long but I have some ideas. It has been a rough six or so months. I may or may not blog about what has happened. Suffice it to say it has been difficult. I am pretty much on the other side of it all now but I still need to do lots of healing.

I have also been feeling quite overwhelmed with the world. It seems as though women are faring worse now than ever before. I have spent a fair bit of time absolutely enraged by the struggles of women just to exist in this culture. Blogging about some of these issues would mean I would have to engage with my anger when, at times, it seemed it would consume me. There have been six women raped at UBC in the last several months. Of course the response is always to beef up security for women to ensure women are accompanied on campus, especially at night. This enrages me! I think it is time that rape becomes a problem for men. What about accompanying men at night to ensure they don’t rape women? It is time we curtail the freedom of men in the same ways that women have endured, perhaps then there will be change.[1] Now, before everyone jumps on me about hating men that is not at all what I am doing. I am caring for women with this idea.

The current political state of my province and country is enraging me as well. The Harper government continues to steamroll over all that is good and decent about Canada. I have truly come to believe that this man is evil. He will not rest until the Canada we have known and loved is gone. Pipelines and the tar sands dominate the agenda and pollute our country. Our provincial government is no barrier to the whims of Harper. Even though Christy Clark has laid out her ‘5 conditions’ she will roll over like a good woman and conservative for Harper and his minions. Meanwhile our Aboriginal people are not consulted in any meaningful or honest way. They will pay lip service to listening but the deals are done.

The only hope I see on the political front is my most favourite senator of all time Mike Duffy. Yes he has taken advantage of loose, honour system rules with regard to expense claims, and clearly he has no ethics. The only person Mike Duffy is loyal to is himself. He was content to play along with Harper, taking the fall and suffering the disgrace as long as his livelihood was protected. Once Harper cut him loose and allowed the Conservative majority in the senate to try to suspend Duffy without pay, Duffy went on the offensive. Personally, I believe that the PMO has orchestrated this whole thing including telling Duffy what to say and when. Clearly Harper never thought this whole thing through or he could have predicted Duffy going on the offensive. All the skills for which Harper appointed Duffy and turned him into one of his best fundraisers could also be used against Harper. Go Duffy go!


[1] I know not all men are rapists, in fact most men are decent people.

Published in: on November 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm  Comments (2)  

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘this and that’ edition

 

Piles of granny squares

Piles of granny squares

I have been neglecting my blog as of late. I want to post about all sorts of political and feminist things but I am tired. I am tired of the governmental corruption, patriarchal bullshit and our politicians thinking we are stupid. The state of affairs for women is deplorable; the dominant discourse is doing its best to keep us in check. It seems that any ground we gain in one area is lost in another. All over the world, women are being raped, beaten and subjugated and I feel powerless. I am still fighting the good fight in my tiny corner of the world but it is not enough. We need a revolution.

Instead of political commentary, I shall regale you all with tales from The Swamp!

• Jesse is awesome! He is doing so well. We have started playing fetch in the backyard and he loves it. He is getting much better about actually bringing back the ball. He actually caught some air yesterday, jumping a foot off the ground to catch a ball. The downside is that he is obsessed with playing ball. He is now barking and whining at the pail of balls on the barbecue. He is a happy, happy boy!
• Gracie has also come leaps and bounds. Her anxiety-based chewing on herself has lessened a great deal. The key is to keep her brain stimulated and lots of love and attention. Luckily she landed at The Swamp where all of this is abundantly available. She loves to cuddle with us (mostly Deb) although I do get my daily cuddles too. This dog never stops moving. She wants to play all the time. Her toilet training has improved greatly and she seems settled for the most part. She still does not like going in the car. I think she associates the car with bad things although who can really know. She whines and cries the whole time. Hopefully she will begin to realize that trips in the car mostly end at the dog park and then she comes home.
• Everyone else is doing well. Zoe still has quite the spring in her step given her age. Piper has lost a little more weight and is looking like a skinny pug these days. I have been taking her to work once a week and she really enjoys it. She gets to be the centre of attention for a whole day. Sawyer and Kiefer are also doing well. They like to cuddle together in odd positions!
• I have discovered David’s Tea. Oh my god is all I can say! The Earl Grey is to die for; it is so full of flavour. I can never see going back to Twining’s. I doubt I will ever drink coffee again!
• We have been watching some outstanding TV as of late. The Americans, a new show on FX, is about 2 embedded KGB spies raising a family and posing as Americans. It really does a great job of capturing the Cold War and the tension of the 80s. Justified is another great FX show particularly if you like hillbillies and the American south. He is an unconventional US Marshall. I am still digging the Walking Dead, Deb not so much. Deb is now watching Weeds from the beginning, which has been quite amusing.
• I am making another afghan now. For some reason, I find it very comforting to make piles and piles of granny squares. Then I turn them into an afghan. This one will take a while as I am making it for our queen-sized guest bedroom.

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Finished afghan

Finished afghan

 

A little quiet around here…

I know it has been a little quiet around here lately. Could be the winter blahs. So many current events have left me so disgusted that I just don’t have the energy to engage enough to write about them. Being a social activist or even a human with a pulse has been difficult lately with so much corruption, collusion and crap going on. While I could devote an entire blog with well-reasoned arguments and some research thrown in, I will instead give you my uncensored gut reaction.

Patrick Brazeau – Until now his main claim to fame as a Canadian Senator was losing a boxing match to Justin Trudeau. Now, he has been charged with sexual assault. Brazeau didn’t even have the common sense to put himself on leave from Red Chamber. No, instead, Brazeau is such an entitled prick that his peers had to vote to put him on a forced leave. Of course he will get full pay. I think in cases like this people should not be paid and if they are found not guilty they can receive retroactive pay. It galls me that a senator who has been charged with sexual assault should still be paid! Of course, I am sure he thinks he is totes innocent and all.

Mike Duffy – Another poster boy for why the Senate needs to be abolished. It seems that Mr. Duffy lives in Ottawa. But not wanting to miss a feeding at the trough he has declared his vacation cottage in PEI to be his primary residence. This means that us Canadian taxpayers get to pick up the $30,000 or so he is collecting to support his ‘secondary’ residence in Ottawa. Harper has so few ethics that he is not even forcing Duffy to reimburse tax payers. Entitled assholes all of them.

Juxtaposition of jackboots and flowers. (from a FEMEN protest)

Juxtaposition of jackboots and flowers.
(from a FEMEN protest)

Missing and Murdered Women March – Valentines Day marked the annual Missing and Murdered Women March in Vancouver. This march is an opportunity for us to collectively remember and grieve for the women who have died on the Downtown Eastside. The survival sex trade and extreme poverty in the DTES takes women down. Of course, the conditions in the DTES receive some assistance from serial killers and other women haters who go there to find victims. Violence against women is so ubiquitous in our society that marches like this are not even questioned. Being a feminist who works for social justice in 2013 is heartbreaking.

Truth about the reality for women living in a patriarchal society.

Truth about the reality for women living in a patriarchal society.

The Pope – So the biggest hypocrite walking the face of the earth has resigned as pontiff. Really who gives a rat’s ass? He is only going to be replaced by another white, European man who has no idea what is going on in the world. Yes, there will be talk of electing a man from Africa or Latin America but it won’t happen. Hell, they have even talked about a Canadian taking the prize. Rest assured everyone,  it will be yet another white man who will continue to keep women in their place and maintain the status quo. Oh and have you ever noticed how people sometimes reflect their names? Joseph RATzinger has really lived up to his name.

Sums it up well.

Sums it up well.

Christy Clark – I don’t know about you but I am fucking sick of seeing Christy Clark’s face EVERYWHERE. It seems like you can’t go more than ½ an hour without seeing some ad telling us how great she and her merry band of liars and thieves was the best thing ever for BC. She has sponsored ads on Facebook and Twitter. My evenings are filled with Clark and her ‘jobs’ plan for BC. I don’t give a shit about business and jobs; I want to know what she is going to do for our poor and disadvantaged citizens. She is trying so hard to be sincere but honestly she looks smarmy. I wouldn’t trust her to manage our petty cash at work let alone the province’s finances. Sadly for Clark, making herself so fucking omnipresent means I am going to take so much pleasure in voting for the NDP come election day. In other news because so many Liberal rats have jumped ship, the Liberal’s once healthy majority is down to just 4 seats. There are also rumours of some Liberals breaking ranks and voting against the government’s budget. Bring it on Adrian Dix!

 

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I need to get my rant on’ edition

We have now been away from home for a week. We have been very comfortable staying at my friend Joe’s house we are missing home like crazy. I have not had much time to blog but that doesn’t mean some things are making me crazy!

First up, the shootings in Newton, Conn:

Mass shootings are a feminist issue. Our patriarchal society is not only bad for women it affects men as well. As much as women’s roles are reified within patriarchy, men’s roles are also proscribed and circumscribed. Patriarchy demands that men be strong and fearless. While women can be emotional,[1] it is not acceptable for men. So what does this mean for men who cannot conform for whatever reason? How are they to navigate a world in which they do not fit? In the most recent mass shooting in the US, there have been calls for stricter gun control if you are on the left of the political spectrum and more guns if you happen to be a Republican.[2] There have also been discussions about mental health and how the lack of treatment in the US may be a contributing factor. While certainly these perspectives are important, I would argue that it is patriarchy along with its defined roles for men and women that is really at the core of the problem.

Then of course the NRA fuck heads have to weigh in after their self-imposed week of silence.[3] Fearful of the cries for increased gun control and what it might mean for their sick obsession, they proposed that Congress should immediately appropriate funds for an armed guard at every school. Seriously folks, their solution to mass shootings is to put yet another gun into the mix. I have never heard of a more stupid idea. What the US needs is less guns, particularly assault rifles which are only meant to kill large numbers of people quickly.

If all that is not enough, conservative writer Charlotte Allen, blames feminism for the shootings. She notes that there were no male personnel in the school and hypothesizes that if there had been some burly men there they could have rushed the shooter. Seriously. How could someone even think this let alone write it? Plus she gets it wrong: there was an adult male in the school, the shooter.

Religion:

Religion is the next thing grating on my nerves these days. At my brother-in-law’s funeral yesterday the religiosity was over the top. His brother-in-law who apparently is a Christian minister performed it. This man actually tried to conflate Christmas and the birth of Christ with his death. It was beyond ridiculous. I am not sure why people who were not religious in life are celebrated with prayer and psalms. It makes no sense to me. My brother-in-law was an educated man; I highly doubt he was at all religious. In fact, what people said they most admired about him were his critical thinking skills and the ability to question that which many of us take for granted. As the minister was trying to comfort people with bible passages, I felt like I was in the middle of a cult. Religion pisses me off. Historically it has been the main cause of war and heartbreak all over the world. The current world political environment in which we live has conflict driven almost exclusively by religion. Organized religion belongs in the past.

Calgary

It is fucking cold here – minus 20 and snow. It hurts to go outside. The roads are shit because of all the snow. It is precisely because of this kind of weather that I never, ever want to live here again.

Then there are the drivers. The other day a bus actually tried to not let me merge. I couldn’t believe it. I had to race a bus! There were over 60 accidents yesterday because people don’t drive for the road conditions. These people live here and should know how to drive in the snow!

 


[1] Even though there are consequences for emotional vulnerability.

[2] Seriously some of these reactionary dinosaurs think that arming teachers is the answer!

[3] It was really big of them.

Published in: on December 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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Misogyny – Alive and Well

This graphic is making its way around social media today. It clearly demonstrates how misogyny and the patriarchy function in our society and why ‘equality’ is bogus. Women should be grateful and/or appreciative for being treated as full participating members of society?  What an absolutely insulting statement!

It is hard to believe that in the year 2012 we are still fighting this battle. What is it going to take for women to be treated as fully competent members of society? This is also insulting to men who recognize women as their equals. Imagine one of us going up to them to say: “I appreciate your effort in respecting me.” What a crap load of shit. Should we also thank them for not raping us at every meeting?

Here is the scoop (in case you have missed it):

  1. Women are fully equal to men.
  2. Women have agency over their bodies and lives.
  3. Women have agency over their reproductive health.
  4. Women can do anything she wants.
  5. Unless you have a vagina you have nothing to say about women.

Any questions?

Published in: on November 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Feminist Video of the day – the ‘Legitimate Rape’ edition

Following up on my latest post about Todd and his dangerous ideas about rape comes this lovely diddy by: Taylor Ferrara. She rocks!

Published in: on August 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Feminist Video of the Day – the ‘swimsuit’ edition

As women, we are taught to hate our bodies from almost the time we are born. If a baby or young child is a little chubby, people[1] fret that she may grow up to be fat. We police each other’s bodies and being fat is the ultimate body sin. If you are fat, I can pretty much guarantee that you are going to be bullied all the way through school. I know I was. It was relentless. It reached a fevered pitch in about grade 6. We were at a new school and I just didn’t get the kids there. There was a boy who would wait after school to beat me up, just for the sin of being fat. Luckily, I befriended a young mother close to the school who would watch out for me and let me come to her house. I can remember the terror I used to feel as I tried to get out of the school quickly before he realized I was gone. It might not have been as bad as it was if I had not had a mouth on me.

In grade 4, groups of kids would get together with the goal of surrounding me and assaulting me. I could not take the short route home as they would get me in the alley and I did not have the protection the street afforded. I can remember one day when I did not feel well and I thought I would just duck down the alley to go home. They got me. I didn’t tell anyone. I just tried to outsmart them.

When I was 14, I ended up at the Children’s shelter in Calgary.[2] There was a group of girls who hated me because I was fat. One day, the biggest bully of them all got me in the front hall of the school. This time, I chose to fight back. I knocked her flat. I don’t remember what I did as I was in such a rage that I just lost it. None of them ever physically assaulted me again.

It wasn’t just the children that could be cruel. I don’t know how many times I heard: “You have such a pretty face,” or “You could lose some weight if you tried.” I would be have food rationed to me when I lived in care, lest I get even fatter. When I lived at home as a teenager[3], my step-father would weight me every morning and if I had not lost weight, I was beaten before I went to school. They also sent me to the doctor once a week to be weighed. All that taught me was how to forge notes. Even on their starvation diet, I didn’t lose weight.[4] Then, one summer, they hired a woman who took me and me sister on forced marches. This was in addition to weekend and weeklong backpacking trips where we would hike anywhere from 4 to 12 miles per day. I would do that with a 35-pound pack on my back. This is why, to this day, I hate hiking; I hate going for a ‘walk.’

As a society we need to come to a place where it is ok to be in the body you have. For the sake of our women, young and old, we need to feed our bodies healthy food and love ourselves just the way we are. I often wonder what would happen if we stopped dieting and obsessing about our bodies. We would have so much more energy for more productive pursuits, like say, bringing down the patriarchy.[5] This woman is so brave and really has it all figured out. Enjoy.

a-tedtalk-from-a-swimsuit-model-its-one-of-the-bravest-things-ive-ever-seen?c=ufb1

For some reason the video won’t embed unless I get an upgrade?


[1] Usually women.

[2] Long, long story.

[3] I was in and out of care from about 12.

[4] They were convinced I was getting a lot of food somewhere else. While I did eat a friend’s house occasionally, it was not a lot of food.

[5] A woman can dream.