Great church you have there England!

So yesterday the Church of England decided that it would not allow women to become bishops. By rejecting the proposal to allow for the ordination of female bishops, the Church of England looks as archaic as the Catholic Church. The Church of England is casting its lot with misogynists and patriarchal forces.

The idea that men are somehow better suited for high religious office is contemptible. The days where having a vagina axiomatically makes you unsuitable are over. I am not sure that having a penis makes you a better decision maker. We all know what happens when you put a bunch of men in charge of schools and youth.

The fact that there is still a need for this kind of formal decision is disturbing. We are all equal. If there is any hope for organized religion in this world it is only going to come through balance; we are only going to achieve balance when women are allowed to assume our rightful place.

Advertisements
Published in: on November 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , ,

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)  
Tags: , , ,

And We Wonder Why So Many Women Died

The ongoing saga of the Missing Women’s Inquiry[1] was dealt another blow this week with pictures of Corporal Jim Brown’s sexual activities being uncovered.[2] The pictures showed the RCMP officer in various sexual situations where women were being dominated and demeaned. In one photo, he has a knife to the neck of a woman. While Brown didn’t play a large role in the investigation, these pictures suggest attitudes that likely affected how vigoursly the Coquitlam RCMP pursued the investigation.

Given the culture of the RCMP, one of misogyny and sexism, it is likely that missing survival sex-trade workers from the Downtown Eastside was not given a high priority. The women all poor, mostly Aboriginal, some addicted to drugs were not deemed a high priority. After all the killings went on for at least a decade. Even though the RCMP knew about what was going on at Piggy’s Palace[3] and they had reports from women they didn’t step in to shut it down. There is speculation now that Jim Brown may have even attended some of those parties.

I can almost hear the hew and cry from the BDSM community about these pictures. The argument will go that he is entitled to a private sex life. And, while that may be so he nonetheless had a responsibility to conduct himself in a reasonable manner. Instead he allowed pictures of him to be taken and displayed on an adult website. This would indicate to me that he sees nothing wrong with holding a knife against a woman’s neck or having his boot on a woman’s back. At the least he has questionable values. The values we hold as human beings inform every single part of our life; they guide what we do and what we deem important. In Jim Brown’s world, women are there to be used, abused and degraded.

Clearly the Missing Women’s Inquiry has not even yet begun to scratch the surface of what went so horribly wrong. Why did so many women have to die? This Inquiry needs to be completely scrapped. At a minimum a new process must be set up with impartial legal personnel who come from an anti-oppressive framework that understands the intersections of class, race, poverty, gender and ethnicity. The dead must be honoured and we must learn lessons from what happened. If we do not take this opportunity the next serial killer will be able to operate just like Pickton did.


[1] The Missing Women’s Inquiry was convened to investigate why it took so long to stop serial killer Robert Pickton who has been convicted in the deaths of 6 women and charged with a further 20.

[2] Interestingly the Vancouver Sun only called them ‘racy.’

[3] A place on the Pickton farm where the brothers held ‘parties’ that featured sex-trade workers from the DTES.

In the ‘Public Interest’

I attended an interesting conference last week. The conference was focused on legal resources for settlement workers. Where I work we do a lot of settlement work and there are so many facets to it, it was important for me to attend to expand my knowledge. The conference was comprised of smaller workshops on various topics.

I attended a session put on by the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). On first glance, one would think this is a compelling issue in Canada today.[1] In fact, the OCTIP, with help from the federal government, has put together an 8-hour training session on the issue. These people clearly have money to burn. Their materials are plenty and varied. They have cards, brochures and wallet cards all printed on high-quality paper and cardstock. They talked about people being trafficked for the purpose of sex work, other types of labour and organ procurement. Yes, you read that correctly: organ procurement. Apparently the issue is so dire CIC has created a separate temporary residence status for trafficked person.

I honestly felt like I was in a different world listening to this presentation. They never actually presented a case of a trafficked person. We were presented with a list of things to look for so we could identify a trafficked person.[2] After the presentation, I asked how many cases they have of confirmed trafficking in Canada. The answer is less than 100 in 6 years. I have been working with refugees for almost 4 years and we have never seen a case of a trafficked individual. My next question was how much money has been directed at this problem and neither of the presenters knew the answer! There are 4 full time people in the OCTIP in BC and at least one federal person. That would be 5 FTEs conservatively. If we took an average[3] of their salaries as $55,000, that would mean at minimum they are spending $275,000 per year. This means that each trafficked person costs the system $16,500.

I then attended a presentation on family violence. A crown attorney presented some of the difficulties in prosecuting offenders. At one point, the discussion turned to the Missing Women from the DTES[4] and Robert Pickton. The crown attorney very callously spewed what he thought were the numbers in the case. He said Pickton was charged with 8 or 9 murders and that there were 18 that did not proceed to trial.[5] I could not believe the complete disregard for the women who were killed by Pickton displayed by his comments. As a crown attorney you would think he would know the numbers!

What was even more galling was his explanation as to why Pickton never stood trial on the other 20 murders: it was not in the public interest. What he means by this is that because Pickton is already been sentenced to life in prison for 25 years there is no point in taking him to trial on the other charges. I would ask, exactly, whose public interest is he talking about? Certainly not mine or, I am sure, the victims’ families in this case. I would also point out that if the women had been from Kerrisdale and their skin a little lighter there would most definitely be a ‘public interest’ in proceeding on all charges.

The Missing Women’s Inquiry was supposed to give the families some explanations as to what happened. Instead it has been rife with issues from the beginning. With little to no Aboriginal representation and focusing almost completely on the police and their investigation many advocacy groups and victims’ families have expressed that this forum will not, in any way, address their concerns. If all this isn’t bad enough, there are now allegations surfacing about sexism in the workplace of the Inquiry. Apparently the environment is highly sexualized where women have routinely faced demeaning comments. To make it even worse, as if that is possible, the women didn’t want to make complaints because they are concerned their future job prospects would be compromised.

It is time for the BC provincial government to get its act together. Why have we spent 1.65 million dollars on combatting human trafficking[6] while Aboriginal women die on the DTES? Misogyny (racism and classism too) is so deeply ingrained in our culture that women can’t even get a fair shake trying to improve justice for dead women. I grow increasingly weary the older I get. It just seems to get worse.


[1] I am sure being a trafficked person is very devastating. I am not, in any way, saying this issue is not important.

[2] If you are interested in the signs according to OCTIP: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/octip/signs.htm

[3] Their salaries probably range from $40,000-$70,000 a year.

[4] DTES=Downtown Eastside.

[5] Pickton went to court on 7 charges of murder and once was dropped. He was convicted of 6 counts of second-degree murder. He did not go to court on the other 20.

[6] Which are most likely many cases of human smuggling. Not that human smuggling is a good either.

Reproductive Rights Discourse

There is a war going on. It is being fought on the battlefront of women’s’ bodies. Our uteri have become organs to be legislated and fraught over. We have been deemed too feeble minded to make decisions about when we will engage in sexual activity and with whom. Women making decisions about their sexual lives is coming to an end in the United States. Even though all of this is taking place in another country make no mistake Canada is affected. Pierre Trudeau once astutely pointed out that we are the mouse living beside the elephant and if the elephant rolls over, well you get it.

Many Canadians avidly follow American politics. Given that their elections go on for years[1] they get a lot of airtime and ink (both real and electronic) spilled about their positions. When you factor in blogs and other social media the discourse coming out of the Republican Primaries is powerful. Just look at Sandra Fluke. I am fairly sure most people have either read or heard about what Rush Limbaugh said about her and the subsequent call that Barrack Obama made to her.[2] Even though advertisers have pulled their sponsorship from Limbaugh’s show the damage to women has already begun.

I am sure you are wondering why this matters to us in Canada. It is simple, as regressive and oppressive American politics make their way into the dominant discourse thoughts and opinions are formed. Many Canadians may well believe that women have it pretty good in this country. Abortion is legal and accessible. Contraception is just a visit away from a family doctor. Most Canadians believe that making women’s reproductive health accessible is the right thing to do. The separation of morality from medicine is more common in Canada than in other countries.[3]

If your only source of knowledge about women is the US primary race your view of women would be skewed. According to Republican presidential candidates, women are not to be trusted with decisions about their own reproductive health. Want an abortion? Almost half of States have some kind of legislation that impedes women’s access. These barriers can range from a waiting period, to an ultrasound in which the doctor must ‘explain’ exactly what the fetus looks like and its stage of development. Some states have gone so far as to mandate a ‘trans-vaginal’ ultrasound. Many feminists have correctly identified this as state-sanctioned rape. Women are also seen as the ‘gate-keepers’ to sex and that if sex happens out of wedlock or in other situations it is somehow her fault. It is as though all of women kind is expected to modulate the behavior of men. Last time I checked that didn’t work out so well.[4] And, as any woman knows, if some men really want to rape them it will happen.

What is interesting in the reproductive rights fight in the US is that there is little to no mention of men’s role in sex and reproduction. We all learn in school that it takes both a woman AND a man to create a baby. Men have pretty much unfettered access to drugs to ensure they can have sex long into their later years without any kind of intrusive exam. This is what is so absolutely galling about the Republican candidates positions on reproduction. Sex should be a negotiation between a consenting woman and man. Both should experience the pleasure and the pain of their actions.

Even though women enjoy more reproductive freedom in Canada it does not mean we should rest on our laurels. The presence of US styled misogyny can affect politics here. There are some extremely right-wing Christian religious groups in Canada who try to flex their political power. Often they receive funding from their compatriots in the United States. In fact, our current Conservative government may be receptive their messages – especially at the polls.

The political consequences of the Elephant rolling over are easy to delineate for Canada. What is more disturbing is the affect this has on the dominant discourse. Canadians are being indoctrinated with this negative view of women regardless of the political bent of our current government. As these ideas take hold it becomes easier for people to view women through this same lens. Canadians are the most wired country in the world. Internet penetration here is greater than any other place. This means that we are being exposed to this misogyny at a much greater level. Don’t be surprised if some of these ideas penetrate into our politics. We can only hope that Stephen Harper sticks to his decision about not re-opening the abortion debate in Canada. It would be disastrous for women if he did.

For an excellent overview of the ongoing disaster that is the Republican Primary please see Shakesville.


[1] The primary system whereby each state’s party members have a vote in selecting the candidate for president.

[2] He called her to thank her for standing up for women’s reproductive rights which, ironically, have been steadily eroded under his presidency.

[3] This is true for many things. However, when faced with a fat person, some doctors will attribute everything to weight. Got a hangnail? It’s because you are fat. But I digress…

[4] Foster Friess – who is associated with the Santorum campaign made this suggestion to women.

The power of a word

Words carry a great deal of power. This is particularly true when you are talking about words that are misogynistic. The case in point today: the word ‘chick’ used to describe a woman. Whenever I see women referred to as ‘chicks’ or ‘broads’ or any other derogatory term, I am disgusted. These words are symptoms of the patriarchy and the misogyny that fuels it. These words are all part of a systemic level of discrimination against women.

Misogynistic words form the foundation of the rape culture[1] that exists in our society. When children learn that it is ok to refer to women in such derogatory ways a very clear message is sent. Boys learn that they are better than girls and that really girls can be equated with young barnyard animals. Girls learn that they will not receive the respect they deserve and that they are not equal. This creates a power differential that allows women to be criticized on every front.

Quite often when I confront these things I am told that I am being too politically correct. What garbage! Our culture is rife with misogyny. If I pointed every incident of misogyny I would never have anything else to do. Use of this language by men who believe they are enlightened is even more disturbing.

When confronted, these misogynists will argue that none of their other female friends found it offensive. This argument is a complete non-starter. Perhaps they don’t respond because they don’t want to experience the same abuse I get when I say something.

There is a solution to this problem. It begins with children. It requires that adults not refer to women in derogatory ways. Children pick this up and then they feel free to do it themselves. It is never acceptable to refer to a woman as a ‘chick.’


[1] Check out this link.

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 5:44 pm  Comments (14)  
Tags: , ,

Things that seriously annoy me

I ended up in a discussion on Facebook about Apple products. The person who originated the discussion believes that Apple is evil. He did concede from a previous debate that they were innovators as well. So in his mind, Apple are evil innovators who just want to get our money. He posted a graphic that ostensibly compared an Asus computer to a 17-inch MacBook Pro. When I asked him for some evidence to support his statement he did not provide any but kept on bashing Apple. I don’t care if someone does not agree with me. However, what kept happening in this ‘discussion’ was a level of condescension that was completely unwarranted. They behaved as though I was stupid because I didn’t agree with them.

I am not going to replay the discussion here because it really does not matter. What is important here is the attitude that is displayed by at least one purportedly enlightened man. This kind of thing happens to me with alarming frequency especially when it comes to discussions about computers. Some men1 seem to look at me and assume that I know nothing about computers. Once we talk for a few minutes usually they come around and stop acting like know-it-all buffoons.

It is in situations like these that we see that women are still struggling to be on equal footing with men. Once we venture into territory they deem is theirs look out because they can’t stand the competition. Instead of treating us like the equals we are out come the assumptions. And this folks is the patriarchy in action.

Patriarchy as defined by Wikipedia:

“is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority     figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority     over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule     and privilege, and is dependent on female subordination.”

We still live in a society where men are still seen as the primary authority figure. We see these systems throughout our society. Because men have control over the reins of power they set up systems that benefit themselves and exclude women. There is still a dearth of women politics and government because the atmosphere of competition is valued and compromise and conciliation is not.

What needs to happen in our society to finally allow women to be equal players? We would need to change the way we value people. Currently those who are white, male, heterosexual and educated are the most privileged people. Doors open easily for them and they can succeed without much effort. One only needs to look at George W. Bush for proof that this happens. Aggressiveness must never be rewarded instead we must seek to educate the next generation to be inclusive of all people regardless of gender, race, creed, religion, colour, sexual orientation and culture. We can all stand up and say: “I’m not a _____!” But how many of us will say yes I have ____ thoughts and this is how I am trying to educate myself. We all must acknowledge our privilege. Our experiences in our predominantly white, Protestant culture is much different than people who are visible minorities. If we can all become more engaged with what is going on around us perhaps we will finally start to see the demise of the patriarchy.

Published in: on August 5, 2011 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Violence and the ‘Message’

All weekend we have been hearing about David Wayne Bobbitt and the alleged assault he committed by tying a woman up for 12 hours, repeatedly beating and assaulting her while her 2-year old child looked on. He has been described as dangerous someone the public should not approach. With all of the descriptive words the CBC could have chosen to refer to him on the radio, today they chose “Penticton business owner.” When I heard this I was completely incensed that they would dignify him with a respectable title.

As a feminist, I should not be surprised that the patriarchy is alive and well and almost always willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt. Clearly the crimes he is alleged to have committed do not befit the description of ‘Penticton business owner.’ In fact, by referring to him in this manner, the media is minimizing his alleged crimes. He is not in anyway being shamed for what he may have done instead he is a business owner.

When society allows men a free pass to abuse women we all suffer. It also sends a message to other men that nothing really bad will happen to you if you assault your wife or rape a prostitute. This culture we live in is steeped in the idea that women and children are chattel. In fact, up until the last century women did not have rights or legal standing. Even today, although we have ‘equal’ rights in principle things are hardly ‘equal’ when men can choose to physically over power us and do whatever they want to our bodies. Consent? What is that?

It seems like there has been an inordinate amount of violence against women lately. UBC student and Fullbright Scholar Rumana Manzur, beaten by her husband in Bangladesh has now returned to Canada for medical treatment. He gouged her eyes and bit off part of her nose. She will never see again. Another South Asian woman was killed by her husband last week. The Crown had to have murderer Johnson Aziga declared a dangerous offender because he continued to have sex with women without telling them he was HIV-positive.

I wish I had answers and prescriptions for change. What I do know is that we must change the discourse that surrounds women and how some men perceive us. Men must educate their sons to treat women with respect. Men have to learn that women are not there to serve their needs. Women have free will and, like men, can do or wear what they want, go where they please and have the right of agency. Anything less than this is unacceptable.

Other Shows I am Watching

I have been watching a whole bunch of other shows on Apple TV. I still have the first generation Apple TV – you know the one with a hard drive. Some of the shows I get on Apple TV are available on the regular networks but we end up with a problem when we try to record too many shows at a time. Here is the Apple TV list:

  1. Breakout Kings – I think this show is on A & E but I am not sure. The premise of the show is silly. Basically a desk-jockey US Marshall and another US Marshall, who is in a half-way house, get to put together a group of inmates who will help them catch escaped fugitives. If they catch the fugitive then they get a month off of their sentences. While they are working on the team they are transferred to a minimum-security prison. The one catch is that if any one of them tries to escape while out on a case then they all go back to their maximum-security prison digs. So once you suspend disbelief the show itself is pretty good. My favourite episode so far is when they used an old Prison Break character, T-Bag, as an escapee. It was a great episode!
  2. Dragon’s Den – I have never watched this show on CBC. I decided to watch it after seeing an episode of the Shark Tank. I enjoyed seeing all of the dumb ideas people can come up with. The one thing that really got on my nerves though was how they all treated Arlene Dickson the only female ‘Dragon.’ Kevin O’Leary is by far the worst of the misogynists. However, every single one of the other Dragons has also said horribly misogynistic things to Arlene. Even the people pitching their
  3. The Good Wife – I was watching this on TV but then Deb decided to watch it so I downloaded the first and most of the second season on the Apple TV. I love this show. The character development in this show is phenomenal. If you haven’t checked this show out I highly recommend it!
  4. The Killing – this is a new show from AMC. The premise is that there is a murder and it will take the whole season to solve the murder. It is early in the season but so far the character development is awesome and it will only get better as the show unfolds.
Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags:

“Don’t walk alone at night” – A Re-think of Sexual Assault Laws

Another school year begins and so do the warnings for women on the UBC campus. Apparently there is yet another predator on the campus strikes when feels like it traumatizing young women while they pursue higher education. So much for studying late at night at the library. A woman’s time in university is about learning new things and expanding her horizons. It is not about being assaulted and traumatized for life.

I can tell you that sexual assault alters a woman’s life forever. As a woman who has been sexually assaulted, I can tell you the effects are there all the time. Through counselling healing can occur however, traumatic events can re-ignite old feelings. Sometimes a scent, a picture or an event can all trigger intrusive memories of the assault.

What annoys me about all of this is that it is the women who suffer. Women have to walk in twos, go to court if they are assaulted and ultimately incur the costs of doing all the work to recover from an assault. What happens to the man? Unless they are arrested for asexual assault nothing happens. Even if a man is arrested, charged and goes to court penalties for sexual assault are nowhere near in line with the costs the woman bear.

I think we need to make men pay properly for the costs of their crime. They need to go to jail for a very, very long time. Their lives need to be destroyed by their crimes. Their names need to be made public. The consequences for sexual assault need to be so steep that men would not do it. The likelihood of something like this happening is slim and none. As long as mostly white men are in charge of making the laws the chances of this happening is not very great.

We need to work together to make substantive change. We need to educate our young boys to respect women and themselves. Sexual assault must become a crime that is treated with seriousness rather than a wink and a nudge by men. Our culture continuously sexualizes women it is in our discourse, our TV shows and our popular culture. We must start to demand better.

Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: