22 February 2010

From the duh files...


Really? Scrapping the court challenges program, removing "gender equality" from the mandate of the Status of Women Canada, and closing three quarters of the Status of Women Canada offices didn't do us any good? Really. Well, colour me shocked.

The court challenges issue spurred a facebook group. But of course, that means little to the government (or anyone else, unfortunately). I got myself one of those nifty looking t-shirts, even. Now, that's another rant, thank you. Stupid shirt. I bought an extra large. I am not an extra large woman, but I do wear an extra large size in most t-shirts. I have given this one to Snap. She weighs 80 lbs. The shirt fits her like a loose, but not too big, t-shirt. How's that for some feminist irony? But, I digress.
The report also slams the government for scrapping a nascent $5 billion over five years national child care program and contends that "senior advisers within the office of the prime minister [have] strong links to anti-feminist organizations."
Yeah, that was a kick in the teeth, that was. And to add insult to injury, giving us $100/mo for childcare needs? Please. I pay that for child care. And I only work 7 hours a week!  What's that going to do for people who work full time? Squat, that's what. Now, I'll grant you, I overpay because I can, and the single mother on welfare who babysits for me needs the extra money (yet another rant for another day), and I have to pay extra because Crackle is autistic and I need better care for him than most can provide. But still. $100/mo? And just to grind salt into the wound, claw it back in income tax. Wanna hear a good one? I made approximately $7000 last year (including the Harper Hundred). Because my husband couldn't claim all of the spousal amount anymore, his refund dropped by $1500 dollars. So basically, MOST of the Harper Hundred was gone, right there. And don't even get me started on how I can't deduct my interest payments on my student loan, but can't transfer them to my husband either. I can't get on interest relief programs, because he makes too much money, and should, according to them, pay off my loan for me, but I can't transfer the deduction to him. It's remarkably sexist.

Oh, and who are the advisers with strong links to anti-feminist organizations? I'd like their names!
Queens University law and gender studies professor Kathy Lahey calls the report "devastating."
Please, can we stop misusing this word? Losing your children to your abusive ex? Devastating. Earthquake in Haiti? Devastating. A report saying we're losing ground? Not so much devastating. Shit like this is why feminists get a bad name.

One part I found particularly interesting, because at one point I was considering a career in academia was this:
Men with PhDs are still twice as likely to be named full professors than women with PhDs, the report said. And female academics earn 79 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, which is only slightly better than the overall wage gap of 70.5 per cent.
 I think there is something missing here. How was this determined? Did they look at all female academics average salary vs. all male academics average salary? Or did they break it down by area? I'd really like to look at the methodology. It seems to me that in areas like Engineering or Computer Science where the competition with industry to get the best people drives up the salaries, and those areas tend to be dominated by men. Now, not to say that that in and of itself isn't a problem, clearly it is, but it isn't the same as overt discrimination by gender. Do women in Engineering get paid approximately the same as men in Engineering? I have no idea. And I would really like to.

Same with the "overall wage gap". Is it more a matter of women do lower paying jobs (childcare, etc)? Or is it also that we get paid less for equal work? I think it would be very interesting to see the breakdown.

And then there are benefits... In the United Church, wages are set from above. That is, the individual churches cannot decide how much to pay the ministers. It's excellent, and helps ensure gender equity in wages. However, the benefits are negotiated at the pastoral charge level. Well, guess what they found out? Men have better benefits. I don't know if it's that men are conditioned to bargain harder, or what it is. But I do know this: The previous minister at my church got a higher housing allowance than the current one. This is because he was married, and was expected to need more money to rent a house than our current single minister. Previous guy's wife was not expected to contribute. Seriously. Never mind that she made about 3 times what he did, in a very prestigious position. Ridiculous. Also, they paid him at the top of his scale, and tried to offer the new one the bottom rung on the scale. She told them "no way". Good for her.

So, Stevie is painting a rosy picture for women, and it's clearly not playing out. We're not taking it. But we don't seem to have the power to do a damned thing about it. And he's stripping away what powers we did have. It's infuriating. I'd like to see a pot-banging protest. The kind that Mexican women threw a few years back. Start small, with everyone banging pots outside their doors for an hour and simply STOP TAKING THIS. It's infuriating. But dammit, we've been put in a position where we're caretakers for children, and there aren't many of us who can just leave them to protest the way we need to in order to stop this shit from happening over and over again. And those bastards are counting on that.

17 February 2010

Why yes, he is unstable - thanks for noticing

Yes, really. Please don't let Harper within metres of anyone.

A personal story

In 1992, I started into university in the Faculty of Education - was gonna teach that there English, I was. That's where I met Mr. FCS* (first class, first day, even). In our class, there were about 6 other men. One of them was the most annoying person on the planet: Brad Hanaback. We called him Hanaback. Never Brad. Never Bradley. Hanaback was a hanger-on. He really glommed on to Mr. FCS. To the point where Mr. FCS would try to ditch him by getting out of class and taking an odd way to the next class. We'd hide from him during breaks because he would just attach himself to us and then dominate the conversation with annoying Hanaback things.

He was so annoying that when we were doing practice lessons, I did a lesson on self-defense simply so that I could toss his ass to the floor and humiliate him. Succeeded too. He acted as though he were smarter than everyone - especially me, with whom he seemed to be competing (We thought he had a thing for Mr. FCS). I remember how utterly infuriated he was when he brought a fibonacci puzzle game to teach, set it down in front of me and I figured it out in mere seconds. He was LIVID.

Now, I dropped out of Education after year two and switched over to Linguistics (STUPID. I'd have a job now. Mind you, I'd hate it...) Mr. FCS stayed in and got his degree, but that meant two more years of Hanaback because they were both majoring and minoring in the same fields. They had almost all the same classes. Mr. FCS is a NICE guy. I mean, he'd never be actively an asshole to anyone, but Hanaback drove him to the brink a few times. He'd come home from classes and just rant and rave about him for hours. It got to the point where I had to institute a 20 minute limit after which there was to be no more Hanaback talk.

After Mr. FCS graduated, he mercifully lost track of the guy. But yesterday something made both of us think of him, and we thought we'd Google him and find out what he was up to. Well, he's been up to no damn good. "Travelling with the intent of having sex with a minor". EW. And as an aside, you can't have sex with a minor - you can only rape one. That's kinda what that whole age of consent thing is about.

I'm sickened. I feel bad that we treated him so poorly, because I have this stupid delusion that maybe if he'd had an adult friend he could relate to that maybe he wouldn't have become attracted to children that way. I feel bad because I wonder if he was an abuse victim too, and maybe could have just used a bit of compassion. On the other hand, I remember all the times we put up with him and how hard we tried to be decent to him (before we started ditching him, that is). And I also remember that this man paid to rape a child - and I don't feel so bad. And it just makes me sick. Sick. I had to bathe hard last night.

08 February 2010

Head-covering, feminism, and religion

I have a sister who is a head-covering Christian. That is, she keeps her head covered when she leaves the house because the Bible tells her to.
4Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, 5but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. 6For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. 7For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection* of God; but woman is the reflection* of man. 8Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of* authority on her head,* because of the angels. 11Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. 12For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. 13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? 14Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.  - 1 corinthians 11:4-11:16
Okay... so clearly I have some pretty major issues with this. I guess what it boils down to is science. When the creation story is revealed as myth, important myth with lovely imagery, then 'woman is the reflection of man' kinda falls apart for me. Which is fine. It doesn't hurt my faith any. What it does is allow me a glimpse into the faith of my ancestors (even if they're not my blood ancestors, but my ancestors in faith), and understand how they believed, how they felt close to God, and what their cultural customs were.

My sister (with whom I was not raised - long story) chooses to believe this and follow it. Is she a tool of the patriarchy? Yeah, I'd say so. She believes that it brings her closer to God to do this, to follow these rules. It doesn't really matter that I disagree with her. But I do support her right to choose to do this.

See, that's the thing about the headcoverings, the hijab, the burqa even. If a woman decides (as opposed to being forced by someone else) to wear it, then she should, by all means, wear it. Yes, they're tools of the patriarchy, designed to "put women in their place" so to speak, but honestly, how are they any different from bras? Instead of an overt religious law requiring it, there's an unspoken cultural law requiring it. Most of us choose to wear them and would be seriously pissed off if some foreigner told us not to, that it was for our own good. There are certainly more comfortable options, but they're not as flattering. Patriarchy, again, right?

See, we might not be wearing bras or make-up or hijabs in order to obey the laws of the patriarchy; we might be doing it for our own reasons. The end result is that we hold up those laws anyway. But dammit, that's our choice to make.