when the status quo frustrates.


Saturday, January 17th, 2009

It’s not news to anyone that PETA is completely crazy, but in case you didn’t know, there’s a hilarious little Flash game on their eyesore of a website. And it, like so much of their “shock” advertising, is entirely sexist. Hey PETA: Why can’t you put a princess dress and a biker jacket on the fish at the same time?

By PETA’s logic, all we need to do to end the attacks on Gaza is to rename the Palestinians “desert-kittens.” Couldn’t hurt, right?

Anyway, here’s mine:

Create Your Own Sea Kitten at peta.org!

(The entire site is hilarious. Check out the awesome bedtime stories. If they hadn’t been around for so long, I’d be convinced that PETA is some sort of viral marketing campaign for the meat industry.)

Not in our name

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Last Wednesday, eight Jewish Canadian and Israeli women occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto to protest the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. They were arrested and held for an hour (rather reluctantly on the part of the cops, I’m told) and then released without charges.

Today I found out that they’d taped it (one of the women is a filmmaker) and posted it to YouTube:

I’ve been protesting outside of that consulate for years now, though not as often recently because of my schedule. A lot of these women have been fighting even longer, through massacres and ceasefires and intifadas and periods of peace that weren’t really peaceful. But there’s something about this particular action that I find particularly compelling—its spontaneity, its creativity, the simple and effective statement that it makes—and apparently I’m not the only one, because they’ve received messages of support from all over the world.

I often feel like I’m repeating myself, saying: “I’m a Jewish woman. I don’t agree with what Israel is doing to the people of Palestine.” I forget sometimes that it’s still in some ways a necessary and even radical statement to make, to draw the line between Jew and Zionist (and Israeli and Zionist), to draw the line between ethnic identity and human solidarity and community. To state explicitly that Palestine, and other struggles, is a feminist issue.

And I salute these women for reminding me of that.

I will not dance to your war drum

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

So I’ve been gone awhile. Work managed to swallow my life, and it’s a long story, but…I will be back in due time.

But I’m back today to break my silence, because today Israeli tanks entered Gaza after air strikes that killed 400 or so people just weren’t enough.

Across the world, people protested. Here’s Toronto’s demo:


It went on much longer than this: thousands and thousands of people. But it isn’t enough.

This is what’s happening. Right now. And while a little over half of Israelis support what their government is doing, only 19% think that a ground invasion is a good idea.

We, here in the West, are complicit. Canada was the first country to refuse to recognize the results of the Palestinian election, after all, the first to cut aid in 2006. And the U.S., of course, largely funds the weapons currently raining down on the people of Gaza. We perpetuate this horror, or, rather, our governments do, and I don’t know any course of sane action beyond taking to the streets and screaming at them until they stop.

Suheir Hammad:


Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I am pretty sure that Tory Health Minister Tony Clement has never had to live in a neighbourhood ravaged by drug-related crime. I’m pretty sure that he’s never had friends bounced between rehab and jail, unable to get proper treatment for their disease because drug use is considered a criminal, rather than a medical issue. I’m pretty sure of this because only a person so very, very sheltered from the effects of the War on (Some People Who Use Some Kinds of) Drugs could make the sorts of hateful, ignorant comments that Clement made yesterday:

“The supervised injection site undercuts the ethic of medical practice and sets a debilitating example for all physicians and nurses, both present and future in Canada,” he scolded in an address to the Canadian Medical Association general council meeting in Montreal. [...] “This is a profound moral issue, and when Canadians are fully informed of it, I believe they will reject it on principle,” the minister said.

Actual medical professionals (Clement is not one) know that harm reduction initiatives like Insite—the Vancouver safe injection site that Clement attacking in his speech—was save lives. They reduce the transmission of infections spread by dirty needs, reduce ODs, get drug use off the streets and away from the general public. Both Clement and his government don’t care about either the lives of addicts or the welfare of people in communities where drug use is rampant. They are much more concerned about appearing “tough on crime.”

After all, there’s an election coming up:

The new Conservative ad campaign picks up where Mr. Clement’s message leaves off with its call to “keep junkies in rehab and off the streets.” It includes pictures of the party leaders and asks which of them is on track to fight crime.

The text reads: “Thugs, drug pushers and others involved in the drug trade are writing their own rules. For too long, lax Liberal governments left gangs and drug pushers to make their own rules and set their own criminal agenda. Those days are over.”

The Tories have lower support among women, and pollsters for both Conservatives and Liberals have found that women and seniors feel vulnerable to crime. A promise to keep junkies away from children is a direct pitch.

Of course, women and seniors are also vulnerable to Tory policies, and have more to fear from our government than from unfortunate drug addicts. I can only hope that Clement and his party get tossed to the curb in the next election before they can do any more damage.

Dina Gottliebova

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

dina babbit

This is amazing. As a young woman, Dina Gottliebova Babbit survived the Holocaust, and saved her mother’s life, by painting portraits at the behest of Dr. Josef Mengele. Apparently, Mengele, who was seeking to describe Romany genetic inferiority by documenting their skin colour, was unsatisfied with the quality of the photography at the time, and felt that paintings would be more accurate. He also commissioned her to create paintings depicting his horrific experiments on his victims.

Dina was liberated from Auschwitz and went on to become an assistant animator for MGM and Warner Brothers. Some of her paintings also survived, and are in the possession of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland. The museum won’t relinquish them—reminiscent of all sorts of ill-gotten historical artifacts that end up in museums even though their rightful owners have legitimate claims on them.

Neal Adams, Joe Kubert and Stan Lee have come together to make a 6-page comic that tells Dina’s story. You can read it in PDF form here, and you really should. She’s a truly remarkable woman.

Hat tip: my step-dad, who shares my love of comics.


Saturday, August 9th, 2008

I don’t think it came out quite this well when I made it.

There’s been far too much negativity on my end lately, so for the weekend, have something good—like Ironed Orchid’s quick n’ easy Indian food (Not-Quite Bhurta courtesy of my other blog).

She also has a recipe for Caramelized Kangaroo.

Okay, now I’m hungry. (Not for kangaroo; I’m vegetarian. But I have to admit that it’s terribly intriguing.)

Why we need a class war

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

scrooge mcduck

I get called a lot on my intolerance and stereotyping, believe it or not, for holding certain opinions. Namely that the working class and the employing class are polar opposites in terms of economic interest, or that very few people get genuinely rich through honourable means. I have maybe even suggested on occasion that the rich aren’t just regular folks like you and me. And that they may, in the privacy of their own mansions, cackle and jump up and down in piles of their own gold and/or hundred-dollar bills.

Anyway, read this article and you’ll get a sense where I’m coming from.

It’s not that the rich are evil, you see, any more than a shark is evil for being a predator. But their insulated lives lead to them living in an alternate reality of sorts. The article is illuminating—despite being apparently great with calculating figures on spreadsheets, rich people have no idea how those numbers apply to the real world:

We hoped to gain an insight into their notions of fairness – what might persuade them to share more of their wealth with others. What we encountered was a startling demonstration of ignorance. Here were professionals who deal daily with money, yet know next to nothing about other people’s incomes. When asked to relate themselves to the rest of the population, these high-earners utterly misjudged the magnitude of their privilege.

How much, we asked our group, would it take to put someone in the top 10% of earners? They put the figure at £162,000 [$314,911 USD). In fact, in 2007 it was around £39,825 [$77,416 USD), the point at which the top tax band began. Our group found it hard to believe that nine-tenths of the UK’s 32m taxpayers earned less than that. As for the poverty threshold, our lawyers and bankers fixed it at £22,000 [$42,766 USD). But that sum was just under median earnings, which meant they regarded ordinary wages as poverty pay.

When pressed, of course, the vicious ideology that underlines our economic system emerges. It becomes a matter of ethics to them. They are astronomically richer than us, not because they’re better exploiters or because they’ve been born into it, but because they’re just better people. And that, well, that’s just how life is.

“We work harder and aspire the most,” one said. The longer we talked, the more they turned to moral reasons for success and failure, moving away from the structural globalisation reasons given above. One banker said: “It’s a fact of modern life that there is disparity and ‘Is it fair or unfair?’ is not a valid question. It’s just the way it is, and you have to get on with it. People say it’s unfair when they don’t do anything to change their circumstances.” In other words, they see themselves as makers of their own fortune. Or, as another banker said, “Quite a lot of people have done well who want to achieve, and quite a lot of people haven’t done well because they don’t want to achieve.”

Despite the fact that they have more money than they’ll even know what to do with in their lifetimes, this curious species begrudges the working class a penny:

Whatever, the poor didn’t deserve it. Masters of the universe our groups might be, but their outlook was pure Daily Mail: “Single people . . . get pregnant and get a flat and more money. You just see everybody pushing prams, then they’ll get more income and a little flat that they can stay in for life.” There was much talk of the perverse incentives for single parenthood, with one banker complaining that the 18-year-old mother on benefits “doesn’t get that much less money than another 18-year-old working in a shop”. It didn’t seem to occur to this speaker that the shop worker’s pay might also be too low. They were contemptuous of anything that gave extra money directly to poorer people: “This thing of giving pregnant women £200 for dietary supplements. Like, as if they’ll really spend it on fruit.” Most were adamant, along with this banker: “We don’t think just chucking money at the welfare state is the answer.”

I don’t think we ever really moved that far from feudalism, you know? I’m not too surprised at this look into the lives of the ultra-rich, but I wish that the lower- and middle-class dupes who buy into the idea that capitalism is in any way fair, efficient, or the only viable economic system, would take a good hard look at who their votes and compliance support.

Hat tip: Flintultrasparc.

Rita MacNeil, Communist menace

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

How quaint! Too bad he’s spying on you.

I’m no fan of the RCMP, one of our glorious national symbols. They had a historical role in abducting indigenous children from their families so that they could be tortured, brainwashed, and frequently killed in residential schools. More recently, they’ve been responsible for an out-of-control taser epidemic that has included the violent sexual assault of a young girl.

Occasionally, though, their role has been laughable as well as simply evil. Yesterday, for example, it came out that they spied on the Canadian feminist movement in the 1970s, apparently on the lookout for commie infiltrators.

Instead, they found Canadian musical icon Rita MacNeil.

Rita MacNeil
Communist menace Rita MacNeil

This is particularly funny if your knowledge of MacNeil comes primarily from catching the odd Rita and Friends on CBC when you were a kid, but apparently she wrote a lot of “women’s lib songs” back in the day.

The article is a scream. Some choice quotes:

While the Mounties recognized the groups were out to “stop so-called exploitation of women,” as one officer put it, the force was much more concerned about the apparent infiltration of the movement by avowed Communist interests.


The memo on the Winnipeg conference describes one session as “consisting of about 100 sweating, uncombed women standing around in the middle of the floor with their arms around each other crying sisterhood and dancing.”

I am really glad it wasn’t my tax dollars paying for Mounties to go see Rita MacNeil in concert.

The Mounties, used to keeping tabs on organizations run by men, didn’t know quite what to make of the long-haired women in scruffy blue jeans.

“They were at a loss to understand their strategies, their goals, their tactics,” said Sethna, who teaches at the University of Ottawa.

Blue jeans, as we know, are a feminist and lesbian uniform.

Anyway, my country is apparently laughing its collective ass off today, but I hope some people will pause in their well-earned giggles and see the reflection of this absurd “intelligence gathering” in the present day War on Terror.

McCain: Obama is the Antichrist

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Not satisfied with claiming that Obama is communist, Muslim, gay (or at least meterosexual), and has black children, the McCain campaign is now claiming that he’s the fucking Antichrist.

I don’t even know where to begin. For one thing, it’s a completely incoherent ad, though it gets points for invoking Charlton Heston. But beyond that, its dog whistles are so shrill that only a premillennial dispensationalist or someone with a perverse fascination with premillennial dispensationalism would get what the hell they’re on about.

An ad like this in Canada would probably result in speculation that the candidate was senile. Just saying.

Hat tip: rojonoir.

Taking female bloggers seriously

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

It’s Caturday, after all, and I exercise my right to be a crazy cat lady on the internet.

I hadn’t heard of Rachel Lucas before today, and it’s probably just as well. (I object on principle to cutesy diminutives of the name Rachel—Rachie is bad enough, but Wachel is the worst I’ve heard. Also, people who dress their dogs in bonnets are to be shunned.) On a more substantive note, though, she’s a member of the Serena Joy school of women-bashing, the Malkins and Coulters and Dowds and Edens who believe that if they devote time to writing about how silly and subhuman women are, they’ll get a pass for their own sin of lacking a peen.

Gotta say that she’s refreshingly straightforward about it, though:

Speaking of pigs, The Other McCain dares to inflame the wound in his role as a patriarchal misogyny oppressor, and Vox Day goes further with a list of things to do if you want to be taken seriously:

1. Have at least half a brain and demonstrate that it actually functions by not writing egregiously stupid stuff.

2. At least 75 percent of your posts should have nothing to do with you or your life.

3. Don’t post a picture or talk about your romantic life, your children or your pets.

4. Don’t threaten to quit blogging every time anyone criticizes you.

5. Learn how to defend your positions with facts and logic instead of passive-aggressive parthian shots fired off as you run away.

Which led to me being dragged into this because as we all know, I routinely violate rules #2 and 3 and yet I’m one of Vox’s favorites, which was pointed out a few times in his comment thread, and thus was born the Lucas Exception by Vox Day, which states that “if a female blogger can be confirmed to be as amusingly bloody-minded as Rachel Lucas, she may post about her dogs or other non-feline pets, so long as such posts are not made more than thrice per week. Kids and cats are still right out.”

Don’t be jealous. Not everyone can have an Exception named after them. You see, Vox gets me.

Eh. You’re easy to “get.” There’s a certain class of women, who if they’re regular enough in differentiating themselves from both trivial, vacuous femininity (while still maintaining the trappings thereof, and being conventionally attractive, of course) and vocal and “unladylike” feminism, gain the temporary approval of professional misogynists. They get patted on the head and trotted out in blog wars for the menz to hide behind. It’s a survival strategy that would be pitiable were it not so damned irritating.

For what it’s worth, I do think there are substantive criticisms that can be made of BlogHer, which sounds far too corporate and fluffy to appeal to my politics. But I’m guessing that this isn’t what’s sending the concern trolls over to Feministe.

Anyway, ladies, let it never be said that I complain without providing constructive advice. Here’s what you really need to be do to be taken seriously by the misogynist blogosphere:

1. Be conventionally attractive. Post occasionally about the supposed ugliness of feminist bloggers in comparison to anti-feminist bloggers, using the same one or two pictures of yourself for comparison.

2. At the same time, mock teh femme. Complain about women who are too interested in stereotypically female concerns—menstruation, bras, motherhood, and so on. While it’s the duty of women to serve and defer to men, you get a pass to be as brash and outspoken as you want, as long as you direct your vitriol towards other women.

3. Link to and quote from well-known male conservative bloggers. Act as though you know them personally, even if you don’t.

4. Post about your guns. If you don’t currently own guns, get some.

5. Blogging about material acquisitions or pop culture that is interesting to men is Serious Blogging About Serious Issues. Blogging about material acquisitions or pop culture that is interesting to women is the reason no one takes you seriously.

6. Go farther in your far-right rhetoric than men. You must be twice as fascist to be considered half as good.

7. Dogs are better than cats, for some reason.

8. Bleep out your cuss words, because adding asterisks robs them of their power and shows that you’re a Good Girl. No one wants to marry a f**king pottymouth.

I hope this helps! *giggles and flutters eyelashes demurely*

Mass graves

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

50 comments and still going strong! I don’t normally get that many comments on anything I post here, so I’m happy to see a lively debate. (That’s not sarcasm. It’s pretty cool that the discussion remained relatively civil, too.)

Anyway, new PunkAssReaders, I hope you’re still reading, because now that I have your attention, I’d like to draw it to something that I care far, far more about than who gets to carry guns in the U.S. That something is the grotesque case of denial that my country has about the violence on which it was founded, the history that makes one poverty-stricken Third World nation for the people who were here first, and another, relatively safe and secure and prosperous country for mostly everyone else. Sure, our government recently said its sorries to the indigenous people, but they stopped short of naming the crime: genocide.

I don’t think they’ve ever done a survey of how many people in Canada know that there are mass graves of children here, but I’m guessing if you randomly suggested it to strangers, all but a few would splutter and deny it. According to Hidden From History, there are possibly thousands of dead indigenous children buried at 28 different sites. While most, if not all, of the murderers and kidnappers of these children are dead, the institutions—church and state alike—responsible for this crime against humanity are still at large.

I guess I mention this now because we all have issues that drive us into a frothing frenzy and issues that we might recognize as important and might even have an opinion on but we don’t really care all that much. I can’t stand it when people ask why I don’t put the energy into pro-Tibet activism that I put into pro-Palestinian activism (there is a reason, but it probably belongs in a different post). But I really do wish more people would get into a frothing frenzy about residential schools. It’s a crime that’s gone unpunished because the only ones speaking about it are its victims.

That page I linked to has the locations of the graves, as well as the sources of information. Much of it seems quite credible. I’m not sure what to do with this information, other than keep talking about it until I’m blue in the face, because as long as we continue to deny the fact that genocide took place here, we are still perpetrating it.

The anti-gun gun-nut

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Not bad for a gun-hater.

So. A homophobic terrorist shoots up a Unitarian Universalist church, which is pretty much the mass murdering equivalent of kicking puppies. The usual suspects on both sides come out of the woodwork to claim that more guns or fewer guns, respectively, would have prevented this tragedy from occurring.

On the NRA side, SaysUncle is on the case!

The Mrs. often asks why I carry to church. It’s because shootings keep happening at churches.

Kynn points out that politicizing tragedy and victim-blaming is kind of a shitty thing to do. Posters from SaysUncle immediately jump all over her blog. She bans them. Her blog, her prerogative, and she wasn’t looking for a debate.

SaysUncle & Co. get butthurt about it and bring up Kynn’s appearance and gender presentation, as if either are relevant.

I can’t resist an opportunity to troll, so I went over there and attempted to reason with them. After all, I’m not anti-gun; I just think that guns wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy. But they flip out, arguing that of course, they totally could have taken down the shooter without hurting anyone else.

There are a lot of arguments that one can make here, but my final one, as I was starting to get caught up in their spam filters, was that yes, certainly, I respect their right to own guns. Among the many problems with their victim-blaming line, however, is the idea that the only way to prevent gun violence is by carrying concealed firearms. To which I asked: what about kids who are too young to shoot, people with physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from safely operating guns, and especially in this case, what about pacifists who don’t want to carry guns? Should they, like the original poster, carry guns to church? And if they don’t, do they deserve to get shot?

The, er, ludicrous response:

Each and every single person on Earth has the implicit right to kneel, bend their head and take a bullet in the back of the head. Each person has the right to lie supine with knees spread. Each and every person has the right to stand in abject terror with hands raised and the sure and certain knowledge that personal death is very near.

Where do these people live—Baghdad? I have a hard time imagining that violence is so rampant in the U.S. that one’s only option if one wants to be safe is to pack heat. Earlier, we were arguing about whether it’s responsible to have guns around children—I firmly believe that it is not. Their argument hinged on the infrequency of accidental child deaths caused by guns.

But random shootings, well-publicized as they are, are also quite rare. You’re more likely to die in a car accident. So I wonder at the psychology of people convinced that they need to be armed when they attend children’s plays at churches—you know, just in case. I suspect there’s some other motive at work, such as complete and utter paranoia or, possibly, tiny penises.

These guys don’t believe me that I’m not part of some sinister left-wing conspiracy to take their guns away (I’m really not, and I’m not sure why they’re so scared when the far-right has been in power in their country, content to erode all of their civil liberties besides the right to bear arms). But to be honest, it’s really hard to take the pro-gun argument seriously when the people making these arguments are so batshit that the solution to any problem becomes a testosterone-laced violent fantasy.

Anyway, apparently they’re looking for Rational DebateTM, which I guess is an invitation to wander over there and disagree with them. Just a warning: If you disagree too effectively, they start to froth at the mouth and suddenly every comment you make mysteriously gets caught in their spam filter.