31 January 2009

Octuplets and other multiples

So the news this week is full of drama about a woman in California who had octuplets. Apparently, the biggest drama is about the fact that she already had 6 children, all of them by IVF. Also, no other parent in the picture.

Of course, the pro-birth people are shutting up and shutting up fast. Other than to say that she never should have had the embryos made in the first place.

I very much support a woman's right to choose what to do with her body. And I think it's bugfuck stupid to have 8 embryos implanted when you already have 6 kids, but I also think it's her right to do it. Just as much as the Duggars have the right to have 18 kids (or whatever the hell they're up to). Now, that being said, were I the doctor, I'd tell her "No fucking way". I wouldn't extract the eggs, I wouldn't make the embryos, and I sure as hell wouldn't implant them. I mean, she probably didn't expect all 8 to implant, but still. Why even try with eight? It baffles the mind.

Actually, I started this post last night, and today at church my minister said something that REALLY resonated with me. It fits here, and it fits in a million other places. She said (quoted from memory), "Sometimes, a good, healthy impulse can get twisted and warped into something unhealthy and dangerous". Sounds like that's what's happened here.

I'm definitely going to be talking more about that quote soon. Actually, I'm going to have a lot to say about her whole sermon. Today's was especially thought-provoking. Stay tuned.

28 January 2009

Biathlon fundraiser and other Olympic nonsense

The Canadian women's Olympic biathlon team is raising money (because they are underfunded). And how might they be doing this? With a nudie calendar.

They say that they hope it will "empower women and girls through inspiring quotes and expressing the beauty of an athletic body."

But I gotta say, it sounds a lot more like selling sex to fund their goals. Now, I'm not saying they shouldn't do this. Hell, if that's how they wanna do it, fine. Whatever. But couching it in terms of empowerment, when it's just objectification of the woman's body is seriously offensive. I mean, they're doing it to make money, not art.

Which leads me to the fact that the men's sports are funded a lot more heavily than the women's. Gee, sexist much? Fund them the same. Or don't fund them at all.

I'd be none too upset if no adult sports were funded. I couldn't give the first flying fuck about the Olympics (which, I not-so-lovingly refer to as the Olimpdicks). I think they're a gigantic waste of money and resources, and a slap in the face to the poor and sick. I mean, there aren't enough hospital beds in BC, but shell out BILLIONS on sports? Give me a break. And *so* don't tell me it'll stimulate the economy. Sure, it'll stimulate the rich into getting richer, but it does jackfuckingsquat for the rest of us.

And can someone tell me why anyone gives a shit about who can throw a javelin the farthest or swim the fastest? "It's the pinnacle of athletic achievement" says my MIL. And? So what? My tax dollars are funding this because why? It's not like there aren't a gazillion problems to fix first. Why in hell are we spending money on frivolous shit when there are people dying in waiting rooms, not able to find doctors, living on the streets, selling their bodies for drug money, stealing shit for drug money, too sick to get out of the house... I could go on...

So, now the Biathlon team is selling their bodies to go to this farce. Just fucking lovely. Aren't we just the evolved people?

Marx said that religion is the opiate of the masses. He might have been right for his time. But now, now it's sports. Hell, you can even watch it all day Sunday.

27 January 2009

Budget woes

I am all sorts of disappointed with the budget the Cons put out today. Okay, that's not exactly true. I'm disgusted, but disappointed suggests that I was hoping for more. I wasn't. Because I knew perfectly well it wouldn't be coming. There's no sense in hoping when it's hopeless. Hell, I don't even hope for much from the Librulz, never mind the damn Cons.

I see nothing for women. No childcare money. Nothing for the poorest of the poor. The EI extension is all well and good, but the number of hours one needs to work haven't changed. That doesn't do squat for people who work part time. And the amount of money one gets on EI didn't go up either.

I haven't been able to find out if there's a wage freeze for the civil service. I hope not! (Uh oh, there I go, hoping...)

26 January 2009

Brilliance, copied

There was a very interesting post and discussion over at Canadian Cynic's blog about the Christians who believe women should be subservient to men, and that abuse is often brought on by women who aren't submitting properly. Of course, I am completely appalled by those so-called Christians. But I could not have put my thoughts better than Scotian did. I'm quoting it here in full, because it is just too good not to:

Several years ago I coined the word Talibangelists to make this exact point. I inherently distrust any zealot/extremist/fundamentalist, especially a religious zealot/extremist/fundamentalist because not only do they have totally rigid definitions of right/wrong as defined by whatever their focus is but their inability to accept any flaw within that focus makes them extremely dangerous to any society that recognizes the worth of the individual and the value of diversity. Especially since they see it as their God demanded/required mission to impose those definitions and requirements on everyone else regardless of how anyone may feel about it using the most coercive tools they feel needed, espcially those of government. The way women are treated by many as second class (if that well) by some sects of so called mainstream evangelism really is disturbing, and the stuff that LuLu cited in this post is on a par with advocating rape as a healthy sexual expression for men and that women should be grateful God placed them in the position to receive it.

People do not want to accept it but misogyny is still the most prevalent prejudice in our society today, and the most widely practiced I would argue too. Despite it needing to go underground in many respects in the mainstream especially in terms of language and blatant sexual harassment I still see far too many signs that for all the lip service many give equality of the sexes the reality is for too many even in the mainstream there is still something lesser about the rights and roles of women in our society, especially in the area of sexual freedom and control over their bodies.

To this day women are paid significantly less than their male counterparts in the workforce (if not as less as it once was) despite all the "progress" on this issue, we see many men that complain about the feminazis and feminization of our culture/society, and we see too often even in this day and age a tendency to say a woman that was raped may have encouraged it somehow that it is not always totally the fault/responsibility of the rapist because they still cannot grasp that rape is all about control using sex as the tool. I wish it were otherwise, but reality is what it is.

Just because something is not as obvious, not as extensive as it once was does not mean it has been corrected/fixed. One of the absolute worst offenders for keeping women down in NA is alas religion, specifically two of the Abrahamic ones (Islam and Christianity), as shown in what LuLu cited. Worse, while what LuLu cited was more extreme than some are willing to go in public the underlying sentiment that women are subservient to men (Man is the head of woMan for example is alas a core belief for many Christians of many sects from hard core fundamentalist to mainstream in my experience) runs rampant through the various sects and flavours of NA Christianity. To think otherwise is to blind/fool oneself IMHO, and it is a real shame and something that needs to be monitored and responded to as much as is possible.

Absolutely, that is true. There is a lot of misogyny within Christianity. One of the reasons I left the Roman Catholic church is because of the way they treat women. There were definitely a lot of reasons, but that was certainly one of them. I remember realizing just how stupid it was that a cloister of nuns (a cloister, remember, is a group that has removed themselves from the world outside to focus on spiritual matters) need a man, a priest, to come in and give them communion. For some reason, despite devoting their lives to God to the point where they'd taken themselves out of the world, they still weren't good enough to consecrate the hosts themselves. Utterly ridiculous.

But it does NOT have to be that way. And it is not within the United Church of Canada, which I must remind you is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada. I am so grateful for that. Women are valued as equals within our church. It is what Jesus taught, after all. He befriended prostitutes, saved a woman from a legal execution by stoning, taught that women have just as much of a place learning from the Rabbis as men. Is that a man who would say, "Woman, if you're getting beaten, it's your own fault!"

Scotian, if you're reading, I'd love it if you'd repost your next comment here as well. It was also fantastic. Oh, and I'm definitely going to add you to my blogroll. Thank you for the thought-provoking comments!

BC vs. Saskatchewan

If you've looked at my profile or happen to know me, you'll know I live in BC. I'm originally from Saskatchewan though. Two quite different worlds, I must say (*ahem* Quebec, you so don't have a monopoly on a distinct culture in this country!)

It's truly strange. Saskatchewan is a bastion of social conservatism, but it's the birthplace of universal healthcare, farmers' co-ops and a number of other quite progressive ideals. Seniors only pay $10 for prescriptions (if they're under a certain income - more on the stupidity of that change some other time). Chiropractors are subsidized. Women's centres are funded quite well (comparatively). It's pretty cool in some ways.

Here in BC, we pay a monthly fee for our medical care, and it ain't cheap. $130something for my family (not sure exactly because it comes off my husband's cheque). That doesn't cover any chiropractic treatments, any physical therapy, any psychologists, or medications. Pharmacare is an utter joke. I refuse to even sign up for it. Campbell cut tons of funding to women's centres and shelters, homeless shelters, welfare, legal aid, special needs in the classroom, etc. It's insane.

On the other hand, it's not nearly as safe to be gay in Saskatchewan as it is in BC. I regularly see gay couples in Victoria walking down the street hand in hand. My daughter's middle school has a Gay Pride Day. I cannot imagine such tolerance in Regina. I can't compare small town BC to small town Saskatchewan, having never lived in a small town in BC, but I do know that being gay (and out) in a number of small towns in Saskatchewan is far less than safe.

And marijuana. There is a *huge* difference in the way pot is treated here and the way it is back in Regina. Oh my. I was shocked to see people smoking weed openly here. Pleased, mind you, as I had severe, chronic pain, but still shocked. Cops catch you with pot here, and they'll just take it, and laugh at you for getting caught (just try getting a bottle of wine on a bus on Canada Day though!). It sure wasn't that way 10 years ago in Regina. Maybe things have changed, I don't know. None of my friends there are smokers. Or at least none admit to it. Maybe I'll ask them how many grams are in an ounce. Only pot smokers know the answer to that question. :)

I find the dichotomy quite interesting. I like the more socialist economics of Saskatchewan far better than Campbell's bullshit, but I like the social freedom here better. I long for a place with both, but can't afford to move to Holland right now.

Thank you

First a thank you. Thank you to the Progressive Bloggers for checking this blog out. I've not been accepted (yet), but assuming I can keep up the blogging, they'll give me another shot in a month or so. Makes sense to me. But anyway, thanks for considering me. I do appreciate it. And I hope some of ya will keep reading for interest's sake. I'll keep the link roll on if that's okay. I mean, you might get one or two hits from here. Or not. :)

And second, there is no second. I'm just going to make a new post. Because I suddenly had a headache with pictures thought.

25 January 2009

Called to action

I gave a presentation today at my church on the differences in the generations and the way they view church and spirituality. I'm pleased enough with my part, but I found that people weren't really receptive to talking about it. That's too bad. I find it heartbreaking that the older generation isn't very willing to talk about the issues that are important to mine. They are really set in a mindset of "Well, this is how we always did it, so it should be good enough for you too". And that just isn't working. People aren't going to put up with that.

However, after my talk, one older man talked to me about what he thought was "revolutionary", and I've been screaming about for years. :) He thinks we should amalgamate two of the area churches, not in a congregational sense, but in a shared use sense. He says that we should have our services at their church, and convert our church into an outreach centre for the homeless that both of our congregations could run together. BRILLIANT. And of course, I say that because it's something I've been going on about since I started there. There's a giant hall that is standing heated and empty 90% of the time. There is simply no legitimate excuse for saying this can't be used by the area's homeless. Of course, we'd have to organize security and all that, but so what? We're supposedly Christians, aren't we? Are we not specifically called by God to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless? I also think a women's shelter might be an option, as there are none in the area. One has to go downtown for that kind of help. But that would entail even more security, I think. And as I said, we are a congregation of aging people, by and large. But the man I was talking to thinks it would mobilize the younger people in the area, and I suspect that he's right.

22 January 2009

Language matters

I am so very sick and tired of seeing so-called progressive bloggers using sexist terminology when referring to female conservative bloggers they don't like. And I'm really sick of seeing it on one of my favourite blogs. (*cough* Canadian Cynic *cough*).

I have no problem with calling these women (and men) morons, idiots, stupid, brain-numbling fucktards, vapid, evil bastards, etc. But when you start pulling out "cunt" and "bitch" to the extent where you've nicknamed the whole blog "stupid dumb cunt nation", you're being a sexist asshole. Even if you're otherwise an awesome blogger. And I'll grant you, that blog is such a steaming pile of shit, and its author is... well, it's hard to find words to describe just how blackhearted she is. I'd say Cheney-esque, except that she's not nearly as clever.

I admit it. I used to be a sexist asshole too. I would use these words for women I hated. I had a boss who seemed to bring out the big c-word from me virtually every day. My GOD, she was a horrible seething scab of a woman. I used to have nightmares about going to work. But it is not okay to call her a cunt. Nor is it okay to call that infected assboil CC hates so much a cunt. Even though she really and truly deserves no respect. Seriously, like none.

Here's the thing though. The rest of womankind does. Calling a woman a cunt is no better than calling a black person a nigger. We are both oppressed, both undervalued, both treated as second class citizens (and no, I'm not going to play the Who is More Oppressed? game. We both are, and there's no quantifying it). Sexist and racist terminology is not okay just because the person it's directed at is a giant *douchebag. Seriously, can you call Michael Vick a nigger because he's an evil, puppy-torturer? HELL NO! And nor should you. It says that part of your problem with him is his colour. In the same vein, calling a woman a cunt says that part of your issue is that she's a woman. And that says none of us are completely okay with you.

There are lots of words like this. Some more accepted (though not acceptable, IMO) than others. For example, "That guy is such a fag! but I'm not homophobic!" "What a retard! But I have no problem with the disabled." Now, these are different (though not really okay either) because they're used for someone who isn't actually a member of that community. That "fag" probably isn't gay. But if you're using the term to be insulting, you're saying it's not okay to be a member of that community. And that "retard" is probably just someone who is monumentally stupid, and not actually mentally disabled. But it is colossally disrespectful to the disabled to use that term as an insult.

Somehow it seems worse to me to call someone who is actually a member of an oppressed or underprivileged class a slur that targets their entire class. Even if they deserve it for their behaviour. It says that it's more than your behaviour I hate. It's also the fact that you're female. It's also the fact that you're black. Because if it weren't, I wouldn't use a word that is only useable against someone in your category.

*Douchebag is a word I'm okay with simply because it's a tool of patriarchy, totally unnecessary, and generally irritating to vaginas.

20 January 2009


My doctor retired in December, so I am on the hunt for a new one. I think I found her today. First of all, the office was cool and had a nice feeling. I don't know why that matters to me, but it does. But I knew I was in a good place when I was filling out the questionnaire and one question was:

sex/gender: m___ f___ mtf____ ftm____ other ____

Um, seriously. That is all sorts of cool.

18 January 2009

Wannabe pacifist

That's me. Luna, the wannabe pacifist. I really and truly believe in pacifism. If no one fought, if no one resisted violently, if people refused to fight wars for the evil overlords, even at the expense of their own deaths, the world would be a hell of a lot better place.

But I'm a coward. I am simply too afraid of losing my family, my way of life, my own life, to not fight back if it comes to that. I'd kill someone who tried to kill my family. I'd kill someone who tried to kill my dog, probably. I know the law says that it's justified (at least in the case of the former), but my ethics do not. Thou Shalt Not Kill doesn't have any exception clauses that I can see. And yet I know without a shadow of a doubt that if someone were raping my daughter, I'd kill him with my bare hands and any weapon I could get them on. And I'd know it was wrong. But I'd still do it.

I seriously admire true pacifism. I honestly think it is more cowardly to fight than it is to stand up for peace, to refuse to be part of war, to be a tool of violence.

Now, for the love of God, please don't interpret this as "The troops are cowards". That is so not where I'm going. HELL NO. It is fucking scary to be faced with killing someone. And if your beliefs about pacifism don't mirror mine, and clearly they don't if you're in the military, then it takes a lot of courage to do what is required of you and kill the person shooting at you. Especially, if you're wondering if it's the right thing. You have to trust in your leaders, trust in their ability to make the right decision. And that takes mountains of courage.

I don't know where I was going with this. But I'll leave it here so I don't ramble on too much more.

16 January 2009

Maternity leave in Canada

Maternity leave is a topic that is pissing me the hell off right now. Because I don't get any. I work 6 hours per week. I pay EI on my earnings.

From hrsdc.gc.ca
"Maternity benefits are payable to the birth mother or surrogate mother for a maximum of 15 weeks. To receive maternity benefits you are required to have worked for 600 hours in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim. You need to prove your pregnancy by signing a statement declaring the expected due or actual date of birth."

Why? Why do I have to have worked 600 hours? It's not like I'd get the same amount of money as someone who's worked 1200 hours. I'd get a percentage of my earnings. It's impossible to get knocked up to scam the system (like say welfare, which, btw, I don't think many people scam. Yeah, some do, but have you ever tried to live on welfare wages? It's way more work than it's worth). $447/week. I'd make about $49/week. Seriously, they're denying me $49/week for 15 weeks. Are they kidding me?

In a nutshell, I have to pay into EI, but I can never collect on it. Not even for maternity leave. Yes, I know it's good that the system uses my money to help others, but I fail to see the logic behind denying me $735. I'm reasonable though. Someone point out how this is logical, and I'll deal.

Fortunately, my husband is a civil servant. Parental benefits are great. If you're a full-time employee. Since I'm merely a part-timer, I am nothing in the eyes of the government. Oh, and also, it wouldn't kill my church to just give me 6 weeks paid time off. But since they don't even give me Christmas Eve or Boxing Day or a Christmas bonus (not even a bloody box of chocolates!), it's not happening.

15 January 2009

On change

Change is a topic that has been swirling around in my head for years, and I think I may have gelled it finally, but if I ramble a bit, forgive me.

Several months ago, it came out that a Saskatchewan politician had said some racist things about 10 years back. He apologised, and said he no longer felt that way. Some people scoffed, some people said "It was 10 years ago, get over it". I think that generally went along ideological lines. I have absolutely no clue about the nature of this politician, whether he's a racist, or whether he's changed from a previous nature. But it got me thinking, can people change? Can opinions really change? I think so.

The people who scoffed about it and said "people don't change" bothered me. Do those people honestly stand by every single word they uttered 10 years ago? And if they do, is it because they're too stupid to remember what they said back then? Or because their only personal growth has been in the form of hard-ons and swollen heads? I truly feel pity for someone who hasn't made mistakes and learned from them in the last 10 years.

10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, I was a different person. I said things I'm not proud of and no longer believe for a second. I said things that would truly offend me to hear now. That doesn't make me a hypocrite, it makes me human, and willing to learn from my mistakes. I told racist jokes that I thought were harmless because I wasn't telling them in earshot of people of that race - and some were harmless, I still think - I like jokes that poke fun at stereotypes. But some of those jokes were truly rude, and I would call someone out on them for sure now. Hell, that's how I learned how offensive they were. My racism was born of ignorance, not hatred. And it's a hell of a lot easier to learn than it is to give up hate. As long as you're listening.

Same with sexism. If you looked hard enough, and knew some of my other usernames, you'd find me defending sexist language use. I eventually saw the light. I dunno, someone just used the right argument, and it clicked that an insult based on sex is no better than an insult based on race. I still fail at this, btw. I still catch myself using the term 'bitch' or 'cunt' sometimes. It became habit, and I'm working on breaking it. And I *never* use it in writing. There's no excuse for that when there's a delete key so handy.

So, I don't know if that politician changed, or if he's lying to save his ass (the latter seeming more likely, if only because he's a politician, and if you want to keep a job in politics you have to lie), but I know people can change.

14 January 2009


Canadian Cynic (whose choice of language often pisses me off, but whose opinions I generally agree with) posted this gem about arguing with conservatives It's sheer genius.

I've noticed that some liberals argue like that too, but not as many, IME.

Also, IME, it seems to be people who don't know their facts well who do this. They do it to cover that they can't make the argument, but aren't willing to change their opinions or admit they were wrong. Or even, they still don't believe they're wrong (and maybe they aren't), but simply don't have the argument to back it up.

Slightly tangentially, I was arguing with someone on a vegan board I frequent (I'm not vegan, but close enough that the recipes there are useful to me). Anyway, she was going on about how Coke is terrible for your health. Yes, correct, I agree with your statement. However, she was going on about how you can pour a Coke in a toilet and then clean with it, and was using that as "proof" that Coke is bad for you. I hate that. My insides are not a toilet. My gut is not porcelain. This ridiculous analogy fails, and makes the arguer look stupid. So, because I am no good at just letting things go, I said, "Oh, look what water does to pipes! And the water damage in my wall is considerable. Water must be bad for me too!" She totally didn't get it. She got mad at me, first for saying that Coke is good for you (um, nope, didn't say that, I said her conclusion wasn't supported by her premises, but that I didn't for the first minute deny the conclusion), then for suggesting that water is bad for you (um... miss the point much?), and then for being so stupid I didn't realize that my body isn't copper piping (*sigh*). Finally, I just said, "Listen to me. I'm trying to help you make your point better. Faulty logic isn't going to help you." So now she hates me, but I really don't care. :)

I think faulty logic might just be my biggest pet peeve.

12 January 2009

Racism and other bigotry

There are two kinds of racism: The kind I understand and the kind I don't. :)

1) The kind I understand. Suppose John grew up in Saskatchewan in a small town near 3 reserves. On each of those reserves, there was a problem with violence, alcoholism, unemployment and poverty. As a result, most of the people from those reserves who John ran into had a lot of problems. Furthermore, John ran a small business and gave a lot of credit to both the bands and the people. Though not everyone ripped him off, it happened a lot. John decided that he shouldn't trust the Indians any more. It's racism, but it's racism I can understand. I don't like it, but I understand it.

ETA: DrDawg (whose blog you should totally read!) posted about the death of a notorious racist. I think this is a subset of the above kind of racism. It's sorta understandable in that he lived around a lot of them and drew the wrong conclusion, but instead of a distrust, it developed into an all consuming hatred. And I truly don't grok that.

2) The kind I don't understand. John decides that Chinese people are greedy fuckers, out to take over the world. He decides they're all cold-hearted bastards bent on world domination. John has only ever known two Chinese people. They were a nice couple who owned the restaurant in the town near him.

(2) is the kind that baffles me so much. Where do these ideas come from? I feel the same about anti-semitism. I understand it if you're a Palestinian, and are dealing with violence on a daily basis. But if you're hearing about it second-hand, from a biased media, where in hell do you get off being an anti-semite?

Now, that being said, I am completely okay with criticising Israel for their actions. That DOES NOT equate to anti-semitism any more than my hating Stephen Harper and his cronies and the decisions they're making on our behalf make me anti-Canadian. My special hate-on for George Bush doesn't mean I hate Americans. It means I hate the government they elected, and that I'm angry with the morons and dupes who voted for him. At the same time, I'm furious with Israel for their actions (and with Hamas, for that matter), and I'm angry with the people who support them, but I do not hate them for, as Jon Stewart would say, their Jewiness. That they're Jews or Muslims or Americans or Canadians or whatever doesn't matter a shit to me. What matters is that they're behaving like assholes, shitting on everyone around them. And *that* is why I'm mad. And no, I don't for a second believe that it's because they're Jews or because they're Muslims that they're acting like assholes. They're acting like assholes because they're human, and humans regularly act like assholes. (See: History)

Just a little aside: I grew up in Saskatchewan. I was 18 before I met a Jewish person. I was in university before I heard the word kike, and it was in a poem I was learning in English class. I had to ask what it meant. I had heard the stereotype about Jews being cheap, and asked Dad about it (I was about 10 at the time). Dad, who could be a bit of a racist, albeit a fairly harmless one, said, "Jews are cheap because they got screwed over so many times in so many ways that they're very careful to keep a lot of money around. In case it happens again. Same was as people who lived through the depression tend to hoard food." LOL. It's funny now. The concept of anti-semitism astounded me when I first really ran into it. When we learned about the Holocaust in school, I could not wrap my mind around that hatred. I still can't. I simply cannot fathom hating a group of people just because of their race or religion or colour or gender or gender-preference, etc. Now ask me to hate them for killing or torturing people, and I'm all over it. And then, it's only the actual perpetrators and their supporters. I can't make the leap from X killed Y to all Xs are murderers.

I hope I'm explaining myself clearly. It's a hard topic to get from ideas into words.

11 January 2009

Won't somebody please think of the (women and) children

I really hate the phrase "women and children", as in casualty counts, etc. I understand that the idea is to say that these are innocents and that men aren't. Um, bullshit. Children are innocents. Women tend to be their caretakers, and so yeah, it sucks to blow them up, but it also sucks to blow up the people (i.e. MEN) who bring home the money to buy groceries. And women are adults, just like men. We are just as able to be part of a war effort as men.

I know this sounds like, "Hey, blow us up too!", but that's not where I'm going with this. I just mean I am sick of being lumped in with children as a helpless entity. And furthermore, I am sick of the assumption that men can't be innocent victims too! I mean, damn it to hell, the men count. The casualty counts that only count the women and children totally make it sound the like the men deserve it somehow. Fuck that with a rusty spoon. Civilians are civilians. Killing a male civilian is just as bad as killing a female civilian. And killing a child is just plain evil.

10 January 2009

Patriarchy hurts men too

Interesting quote from sooey: "I don't know why Canadians are surprised that courts favour mothers in custody battles (if indeed they even do - where are the statistics on this, please?) - when all our official Judeo/Christian institutions still insist that girls were born to be mothers at home, while boys were born to be people at work."

While there are some other things she says that I don't necessarily agree with (or maybe would just phrase differently), I think she's dead on here. And the irony of it is fantastic. Girls are raised to be mothers, not just by our Judeo/Christian institutions, but by our society. Girls are given dolls to nurture, and kitchens to play Mommy in. Boys are often actively discouraged from playing with dolls. Our schools, our religions, our media, all push girls into the motherhood role. And then we wonder why women are given custody of the kids in the vast majority of cases? Really?

Here's the irony that amuses me to no end: The men who are complaining the loudest are the so-called MRAs (men's rights activists), and they blame feminists for virtually all their problems. But it's not feminism that's to blame for this. It's patriarchy. So these very angry men (whose side I can see, really), are furious with the feminists, when really they should be angry with the patriarchy. And they can't see why we're so mad about patriarchal institutions. If it weren't so sad, it'd be funny.

09 January 2009

Patriarchy in progressive places

I work at a church, a charge of the United Church of Canada. For 6 hours a week, I answer phones, word process the bulletin and announcement sheet, manage the rentals of the building, make sure the various groups get where they should go, work on the church's website, arrange funerals, weddings, birthday parties, keep the wireless network running (that sounds easy, but so help me God, there are office gremlins, and they hate me) and act as counsellor when the minister isn't available. The other secretary, who also works 6 hours per week (though not at the same time as I do), does much of the same, though she does more of the paperwork than I do. She's good at that, I'm good with the technology. We get paid handsomely, which is good, because otherwise I wouldn't put up with a lot of the crap, and wouldn't do nearly so much unpaid overtime. Also, they are happy to let me bring my two-year-old with me, which is the only reason I can take the job at all.

Oh pardon me, we're administrative assistants. Officially. I've never actually heard us called that. Usually, we're the "gals in the office". Sometimes we're "ladies", but not often, because "ladies" seem to be women over 65. Could be worse, we could be "girls".

Anyway, as I've said, the UCC is a pretty progressive church, in large part thanks to the utterly amazing Nellie McClung. Women comprise the majority of the clergy. GBLT people are welcome in both the congregations and the clergy, and our church lobbied the government to allow them to marry.

But still, within various congregations, the patriarchy still is going strong, and the sexes are pretty clearly divided. For example, there is a Men's Club (who hire the UCW - United Church Women - to cater their meals, but do not reciprocate), the UCW, the Get Acquainted Group, which I swear, call themselves GAG (all women). Then there is Session, which handles the spiritual affairs of the church (all women except one), Stewards, which handles the building and its use (4 men, 5 women, I think). The men's club handles the maintenance; the women manage the kitchen. The treasurer is a man, despite the fact that we have a woman on the same committee who is a financial planner. Interesting, I think.

The vast majority of the work at my church is done by women. Part of the reason for this is there are more women than men, but I find it very interesting that the work is so divided by gender roles. And I find it very interesting that none of the social groups are integrated.

The other thing about sexism in the church is that while the salaries are guaranteed to be equal, benefits are not. Benefits are negotiated with the individual churches. And surprise! (or not) Men get better benefits than women. I know of one church where the new incoming minister (a woman) got less of a housing allowance because she is single and didn't have to support a family. The outgoing minister got a larger housing allowance, despite the fact that his wife had a $100,000+ job, and they both drove cars worth more than $50,000. But because he is a man, he is expected to pay the housing fees. Ridiculous.

And finally, on a more personal level, talk to some female ministers sometime and hear about the sexism they face. Almost all of them will tell you a story about how some well-meaning older man has appointed himself her mentor, and told her how to lead properly, despite her years of leadership training. Or how the older folks try to set her up with someone, because she shouldn't be alone. Or how some committee or other decides it's not safe for her to be in the building alone.

Which reminds me, our security committee is comprised of men, all of whom are over 65, with three over 80 and one over 90, I shit you not. And they told me it wasn't safe for me to do security there, because I'm a woman. I'm a large, strong woman. I can run a hell of a lot faster than any of them, and probably punch harder. They said they were surprised my husband "let me" do the security that night - I was filling in - when I said, "He'd be hard pressed to stop me, not that he tried", they looked at him with sympathy. Hahaha.

Back to the ministry, and off my little tangent, I can personally tell you about the mail that is delivered to the office to "The Pastor's Wife", and the people who say, "Oh, I talked to the other secretary, the cute blonde", and I say, "Nope, the cute blonde is the minister", and they gape and say, "Uh, I don't think so!" and I say, "No, really." They look mortified, which is both funny and sad. The mail to the Pastor's Wife will one day be returned with "Our minister is not married and prefers men, but should both of those things change, she will pass this message on to her new wife". But I'm going to need to summon up some guts to manage that. I have a feeling a committee or two might frown on it.

07 January 2009

QOTD: On two tier healthcare in Canada

From The Observer, quoting the United Church of Canada moderator Rt. Rev. David Giuliano:

Private health care "seems to increase the likelihood that those at the bottom end of the care system will get sub-standard treatment."
It reminds Giuliano of the separated-but-equal schools for African-Americans in the United States. "I don't think anyone will tell you that those schools were funded in the same way Anglo-Saxon schools were," he says. "I can't imagine the Canadian health care system won't go the same route if we insist that people with their pockets full of money can buy their way out of the system that is intended to serve everybody....From a theological starting point, those who are wealthy have a special call to those who don't." He adds, "True, we no longer live in a culture where that's the basis of any argument, but as a church, we need to move out of that reality and lend our voice to the national conversation about health care"

The United Church Observer, January 2009, p.15

FANTASTIC! This is absolutely beautifully put. Honestly, what more can I say?

Prayer in schools

I keep getting this highly annoying email forward that was supposedly written by Ben Stein. I've sent this reply to a number of people. So far, no one has replied. Ha. Big surprise.

Oh boy, not this one again. First of all, Ben Stein didn't write half of this. Someone else did. But... My reply:

My feeling is that the world isn't any worse than it used to be, in fact, statistically, it's better. It only seems worse because we are inundated with news 24 hours a day. We hear all the crappy stories of what is going on. Every time someone is killed or there's a hate crime, we hear it. It's not that this is a bad thing. It's that it puts it in our forethoughts, and makes the world seem scarier than ever before.

Also, things that used to be swept under the table, or ignored as "family problems" are out in the open - as they should be. We don't tolerate child abuse like we used to. We don't tolerate domestic violence like we used to. Women are free to work in the jobs they choose. The crime rate is dropping. People who aren't Christian generally aren't afraid to be open about that. We don't force others to believe the way we do any more. I think that's a good thing. I think we're supposed to "show them we are Christians with our love" not our coercion.

That being said, I do like religious displays. And like Stein, I want them to be inclusive. If there's a Christmas display, no problem. But if someone wants a Solstice display, that's got to be okay too. If someone wants a menorah, same deal. But I don't want religion taught in the public schools. I don't want the day to start with the Lord's Prayer unless tomorrow it starts with the prayer of another child's religion. Stein might not feel left out, but the Jewish girl in my daughter's class in Grade 3-5 sure did. I can't imagine how outcast she'd feel if it were directly taught that her religion is "wrong". I'm glad Stein isn't threatened by Christianity. But Christianity does have a long history of enveloping other religions, persecuting people of other religions and just being downright bullying. I can completely understand why people demand the right to say no to proselytizing in the public schools.

It says, "
Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'"

Whooooboy is this off. Are we really asking ourselves why our children have no conscience? I'm not. I don't buy the assumption behind this that kids really don't have a conscience. Most of them do. The vast majority don't kill strangers or classmates or themselves. And what about the kids who do? What made them that way? I honestly don't think it's because there's no religion taught in school. It's because of poverty, abuse, and/or mental illness. Those things aren't new in the last few years.

"Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK."

Oh, fer cryin' out loud. What does this have to do with anything? We should scare our kids with violence if they don't do what we want? And what's the condescending bit about "their little personalities"? Honestly, I don't want my kid thinking if someone doesn't do what he wants them to do, he should hit them. And finally, Dr. Spock's son DID NOT commit suicide. http://www.snopes.com/medical/doctor/drspock.asp Both of his sons are alive and well.

And those commandments that it says we don't teach in school? Most of them we do, just not in those words. We teach social justice, morality and tolerance. Pretty much all of them, except the first 3 (or 4, depending on which tradition one follows). And as I recall, those don't have much to do with hurting other people.

I do very much agree that we reap what we sow, though. We are part of the society that allows people to live on subsistence wages, meaning that kids often grow up without any family around to show them what is right and wrong. We are part of the society that looks the other way when kids abuse other kids and often even when parents abuse kids. We are part of the society that treats mental illness as a personal failure, or ignores it entirely. Look at the homeless and tell me how many of them are mentally ill (for what it's worth, I consider addiction to be a mental illness). We allow this to go on, and have for time immemorial, and we wonder why there are people who kill. And worse, we blame it on the non-believers, because we cannot tolerate the idea that we have any blame in the matter. It's "othering" the problem.

And finally, the last paragraph: "But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in."

Oh brother. It actually comes out and says that if we don't attribute all the world's problems to people who don't like to hear about God all the time, then we have no right to complain? So it's his way or nothing? Oh, I don't think so. There are always a multitude of reasons for complex problems. These aren't new problems, so why attribute them to a new phenomenon? In the 50s, the glorious mythical decade that so many conservatives hold up as a paragon of virtue, there were bullies. There was abuse. There were murders. There was suicide. There was addiction. Children hurt other children. Adults hurt children. Adults hurt other adults. And God was in the schools. God was in the government. God was at the dinner table. He still is if we acknowledge him. I don't think he "backs out" as Jane Clayson says. He's omnipresent, at least that's what I was taught in school.

If Christians lived as Jesus taught, the world would be a wonderful place, and non-Christians wouldn't resent us. But if we continue to say, "You must believe as we do or you're damned for all eternity", we will never get respect. We took over, and we took over with force. Is it any wonder that our empire eventually fell, when we ourselves didn't live the way we insisted others do? All we can do is live our lives to the best of our ability, love our fellow humans and pray for forgiveness. Because it's "us" who screwed this up. Not "them".

06 January 2009

Do-it-yourself abortions

An article in the NYTimes has my brain running in circles today. The gist is that a number of women, particularly illegal immigrants in the USA, and women in the Dominican and other Latin American countries are taking an ulcer medication to induce abortions, without having to go to doctors for expensive procedures.

My first thought is EW! I find abortion utterly repulsive. But I'll get past that for a second here. :)

It is articles like this one that cement for me the absolute need for government funded abortions via the normal procedure and via medications like RU486. There are a number of reasons.

1) Taking medications on one's own to induce an abortion is dangerous, and will inevitably lead to maternal death. So don't do it, right? Well, here's the thing, women always have and always will induce abortions. Criminalizing the procedure will drive it further underground, making it unsafer, and further drive up maternal death rates. It will NOT lower the rate of abortion.

2) The obstetrician Westhoff says that this happens "...partly because of a lack of insurance but mostly because of a lack of trust in the health care system." I understand both of these reasons, intimately. Lack of insurance, inasmuch as when I was sick and desperately needed a chiropractor and physiotherapy, I couldn't afford it. I tried everything else I could think of for pain relief. Clearly, these women are doing the same. Abortion must be freely accessible in order to be safe.

And lack of trust in the health care system, well, this is completely understandable. The vast majority of doctors are men. Many pregnant women looking for abortions have absolutely no reason to trust men. The health care system needs a giant overhaul - and the way women are treated by doctors (of both genders) needs to be near the top of the list.

3) "Gabriela Flores, pleaded guilty to illegally performing an abortion and was sentenced to 90 days in jail for taking misoprostol while four months pregnant in 2004". This just breaks my heart. Here's a woman who was clearly desperate to end her pregnancy. For whatever reason (and she was a Mexican migrant worker, so I'm guessing it was money or fear of deportation or both), she couldn't get an abortion from the medical establishment, and took the steps to do it herself. And this landed her in jail. No, that is just not okay. She had the legal right to an abortion, but because she did it without the government's say-so, she had to go to jail. This just seriously smacks of patriarchy.

4) Another reason cited for a do-it-yourself abortion: "concern about clinic protesters". Yes, these people have the absolute right to try to stop what they view as murder, however, it makes me sick on so many levels. First, and probably foremost, is that I don't believe for a second that any of those fuckers care in the least bit about the babies they're saving. If they did, they'd also fight to see those babies get good health care, good treatment through their lives. This is about controlling women. Nothing more. Second, there's the hypocrisy of it. These people are often Christians, people claiming to follow the teachings of Christ, and what are they doing? Yelling at, intimidating and shaming people they consider sinners. I find that so incredibly frustrating. Do they really think Jesus, the man who saved a woman from a legal stoning, for a sex crime, by asking those who were about to kill her who among them was without sin. How can these protesters call themselves Christian, and miss such a vital message? How? It truly boggles the mind.

5) Finally, the reason I think that drugs such as RU486 should be legal and easily available is that in many communities, there is a big stigma involved in going to an abortion clinic. Scared women won't go to them, even if they are free and accessible if there's a chance that their friends, neighbours and family might see them there. Going to a doctor or even a pharmacist and getting the drugs is simply a much better option. However, I do think they need to be warned about possible side effects, how to properly take the drug, and what kinds of things should send them to an ER. You know, just like any other drug! (Not that we get that kind of quality service from most pharmacists).

So, even though I honestly can't stand the idea that women get abortions, ending a life, I really think it's in the best interest of all of society that we keep it legal, keep it safe, and keep it accessible. And in the meantime, let's all try to minimize the situations that lead to this kind of desperation, and have a little compassion for those who find themselves in the situation where they need to have abortions.

h/t feministing.com


There's lots of stuff I like to read and think about, and I'm going to talk about some of it here.

Language is the window to our world, to our minds. The words we use say a lot about the people we are. I have a Master's degree in Linguistics (utterly useless for making any sort of money, btw) because I love the topic so much. Particular areas of interest for me are sexism in language, language change, dialects and the sociological implications of speaking a non-standard dialect. I'm also very interested in grammar (don't worry, I won't be grading comments!), historical changes in language, taboo language and swearing. I know the difference between its and it's, but my fingers often don't, so no mocking me if I bugger it up. Also, I use plenty of non-standard language. That's just me.

Particularly, I am interested in the way that religions influence government and the mores of society. I am fascinated by the way religion shapes our world. And often infuriated by the way that people use religion to push their agendas of hatred and intolerance.

Seriously, how could one NOT find politics fascinating? People acting in their own self-interest, all the while pretending to act in mine and yours. It's reality TV at its finest.

Oooh, the f-word. Trying to take power from men is quite possibly the most dangerous act a person can make. It results in beatings, murders, wars and even genocide. The reason that women are subjugated is about power, and the unwilingness of men to share it. Feminism, as defined by me, is the movement toward sharing power equally.

Let me be clear here: I like men. I like them a lot. I find them fun to talk to, fun to argue with, fun to work with, and a good lot of fun to fuck. Ditto women. I am not the kind of feminist who wants women and men to melt into one fluid gender. I like and celebrate our differences. What I don't like are misogynist pigs. Of either gender. Or any gender in between. Stereotypes annoy me, but I understand where they come from. I'm guilty of it myself, try as I might. I intend to blog about this a fair bit.

Health care, especially in Canada, is a particular interest of mine. From the fiscal and political end of it, to the patriarchy within it.. Fair warning, one of my worst prejudices is against doctors. I really really hate them. Not all of them, mind you, but ... oh, virtually every one I've ever dealt with. And I've dealt with way more than my fair share. I've been misdiagnosed, so's my Mom. Doctors killed my Dad. They let my kids suffer (because I "over-react to their whining". It wasn't until their Dad came to the appointments that anyone actually looked into the problems.) So, no, I will not be reasonable about doctors. I will try not to be completely irrational though.

HOT BUTTON! A topic guaranteed to cause disagreements and vitriol.
I am pro-choice because I am pro-life. This means I am completely aware the rate of abortion does not go down when the procedure is illegal. Instead, the maternal death rate goes up. Death vs. More Death. Those are the choices. I'll take Death, thanks. And in the meantime, I'll work to see that there is less death by promoting condom use, pill use, alternative sex acts (especially for teens! When I was one, we called it doing "everything but..." No pregnancy risk, but plenty of fun). Also, I think reducing the stigma on adoption would be great (here's a cross-over with language: What do you call the child you've given up for adoption? You no longer have claim to "my daughter/son", the adoptive parents get that. We don't even have a word for it. How are we supposed to talk about it reasonably?) And I'd like to see universal childcare (not the joke of $100/mo that I've dubbed the Harper Hundred*) so that childcare doesn't bankrupt families.

The only way to prevent abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Period.

Other shit I like to talk about includes domestic violence, rape - the ultimate hate crime, kids, the public school system, pregnancy (I'm pregnant now with my third and final kid), human rights, and you know, pretty much anything.

*The Harper Hundred actually helps my family a lot. This is *only* because I don't have to pay for child care. Being able to be home (and work a few hours a week elsewhere) is more possible with the extra hundred (soon to be $200). It's great for me. But it's utterly ridiculous for the vast majority of other Canadians, and I'm a good enough socialist to recognise that just because something is good for me, doesn't mean it's a good overall program.

So that's it. More when the urge strikes me. In the meantime, the 2 year old has been quiet for way too long... I smell trouble.

05 January 2009

Intro post

I've been meaning to set this blog up for some time, and I'm really hoping to do something meaningful with it. But I'm a Mum, and God knows Mums don't have much time.

The idea behind this blog is to explore religion and politics from a feminist, socialist, Christian perspective. Now, I know that sounds rather oxymoronic (or even just moronic!) but I really don't feel there's a conflict. Part of that comes from my church, the United Church of Canada, which is both pro-woman feminist and Christian. (I don't think they take a stand on the socialism bit.) Part of it comes from inside. You know how you just know what is right and what is wrong? It's from that place. And of course, part of it comes from the teachings of Jesus. Jesus said feed the poor; Conservatives seem to say fuck the poor. Jesus said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"; Conservatives say, "Strap 'em down and kill 'em". That is not Christianity.

I'm going to post a more detailed "what I believe" post shortly, and it'll cover a few areas. I'll also post more on "who I am". Though in a lot of ways, those are the same thing.

Anyway, if you're reading, welcome. I hope you'll find this an interesting read. I don't expect you to agree with me on everything, but I do expect respectful discussion. More on policies to come.

Brightest Blessings,