Eyewear, pocketbook, wristwatch

Before we get too far into this, I want you to go here and listen to The Faint’s Dress Code. Especially you, Meatbum. I’ll wait. I think it’s my new favourite thing ever invented. And, while you’re doing that, I’m just going to say I miss Devo.

Okay. You’re back. Awesome!shoulder

Dress code. Gender bias. Hypersexualisation. Whore/Slut. Individuality.

Many public places have dress codes. “No shirt, no shoes, no service”. “Please wear a head covering”. “No street clothes”. There are reasons for every dress code; some more logical than others. When it comes to kids and school, though, people lose their shit faster than a college kid after whiskey night. Most dress codes in school (particularly in high school but often in elementary school) seem geared specifically to girls. Consider the following, taken from the elementary and high schools in my area:

Elementary: Students are expected to dress in a neat and appropriate manner. Outside apparel (hats, jackets, and wet or muddy footwear) are not to be worn in the school. Please ensure your child dresses in such a way that demonstrates modesty. Please avoid: midriff shirts, spaghetti strap shirts, short shorts and messages that refer to alcohol, drugs, and sex. Students should have one pair of runners at school for inside and gymnasium wear. Also Grade Six, Seven and Eight students are expected to bring gym clothing for their physical education classes. Students are invited to shower following vigorous activity.

High School: Hats are not allowed to be worn in the classroom, except for special school related events. Footwear must be worn in the building at all times.
School staff determines what is appropriate clothing. Students wearing inappropriate clothing will be asked to change the offending garment. Simplicity and good taste are safe guides.

It looks like the former (which is the dress code for the elementary school) is picking out in greater detail clothes that girls would wear rather than those boys would wear. I want to know why it’s important for a six-year-old child to demonstrate “modesty”, and I would also like to know what the definition of “modesty” is. If you’re telling a six-year-old that showing their arms, back, or legs is wrong, there’s something wrong with you. Because I have boys, and because my boys to date have not been interested in wearing spaghetti straps, midriff shirts, short shorts, or clothing with messages that refer to alcohol, drugs, and sex (I think they meant and/or there, because otherwise that seems like an oddly specific message to ban), I have not had to deal much with the dress code. I’m concerned that the high school dress code basically leaves “offending garment” up to staff. That’s pretty uninformative. Are students supposed to call ahead of time to clear their wardrobe with the staff?

Do you know how mortifying it is to be called out of your class/assembly to the office to be told you have to change your clothes because you’re not dressed appropriately? ESPECIALLY if it’s a staff member of the opposite gender? Do you know how CREEPY and humiliating it is to have a male teacher/administrator tell you that the way you dress is distracting the male students? I can tell you from experience, it can be life-altering. A little guideline here would be nice.

You’re not an idiot. You know that what they’re saying here is “don’t dress like a slut, and don’t dress like a slob”. They will couch that in terms of “show some respect for yourself and for your fellow students”. I don’t have a problem with that sentiment, except that these dress codes are dictating what is slovenly or slutty attire, and that’s just not cool.

What’s wrong with having a dress code that says: “Our school values respect, professionalism, and a focussed learning environment, and those values are reflected in our dress code. Attire that is not appropriate in a professional workplace or place of worship is not appropriate attire for school. We appreciate individual expression, and encourage each student to take pride in their personal presentation”? If someone takes exception to the way a student dresses, it should be up to the staff and administration to address that concern *with the person who complained*. Find out why it’s upsetting them. Don’t just take the easy way out (easy for you; not for the students) and tell the student whose dress has upset someone to go home and change. Use this as a way to demonstrate professional and respectful discussion.

Here’s one of the subtexts about all of this that really pisses me off: that girls displaying their shoulders or backs or thighs or whatever part of their body in some way has a deleterious effect on the male students. That male students are *unable to concentrate* if there’s a girl’s bare shoulder in the room.

a) Teenagers are unable to concentrate *most of the time*. This is a SCIENTIFIC FACT. Their brains are still developing. You can try all you want to force adolescents to act like adults, but for the most part, they can’t. It’s not because they’re trying to be assholes; it’s because their brains aren’t adult brains.

b) Boys cannot control their sexual desires. This, to put it bluntly, is utter bullshit. Adolescents are flooded with sex hormones, and they are *all* horny, *all the time*. Boys, girls, folks in between or uncertain or undecided about their gender – they are all full of crazy hormones that make their bodies react to things in weird and unpredictable ways. Boners happen, people. Girl boners and boy boners. Sometimes it’s because of a shoulder; sometimes it’s because of a granola bar. Sometimes, there’s no reason. Teens think about sex all the time, and whether someone’s shoulder is covered or bare *isn’t going to make a difference*. Folks attracted to boobs will still think about boobs, whether or not any part of that boob is anywhere near visible. Folks attracted to bums will still think about bums, regardless of how short the shorts are or how tight the jeans are. For the love of little baby Jesus in a sparkly red Speedo(tm), teenagers are distracted by thoughts of LUNCH as much as they are distracted by thoughts of bare shoulders. To blame boys for not being able to control their urges is sexism. And to blame GIRLS for boys not being able to control their own urges is just stupid. It’s a throwback to outdated puritanical ideals about sex (and women in particular) being “dirty”. So get over it.

c) Certain kinds of clothing are morally wrong because it is provocative. “Provocative” is an interesting choice here. It connotes intent. So by telling a student that they are dressed provocatively, you’re telling them they are choosing to cause annoyance or to arouse sexual desire. That might be the case. I know when I was into punk culture, I wore things that made people angry or disgusted. But I dressed that way because I liked it. It looked good. I didn’t get up in the morning and pick out my “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” shirt because I wanted to piss people off. I got up in the morning and wore that because I love the band and I love the song and it was my favourite shirt. (Aside, RIP Nazi Punks Fuck Off shirt.) I’d be willing to give most people a pass on the whole “you wore that tank top because you wanted people to get boners looking at you” accusation because I honestly don’t believe that giving people boners is at the top of the list of why people dress the way they do.

d) There’s something bigger at work here, and that is how we each of us is taught (or learns) to assess attractiveness. Regardless of gender, we learn that extremely toned, athletic bodies are the “norm” and the goal. Big boobs on girls and wide, muscular shoulders on boys – that’s what everyone wants, right? So instead of focusing on style that empowers each of us, we are pigeonholed into the lowest common denominator – we believe something is attractive/stylish because that’s what we’re told is attractive/stylish.

None of this is going to be solved in an afternoon. But I do applaud the students who stand up for their beliefs and opinions. I applaud the young woman who told her school that how someone else reacts to what she chooses to wear is not her fault. If she dresses in something that she has worn or would wear to church, what makes wearing it to school so bad? It’s okay for people to have sexy thoughts about one another in church but in school, it’s bad? Cue the discussion about how sex is not bad or dirty, bodies are not naughty, and people are not sex objects.


Judgmental Hair
Judgmental Hair

Okay, so following the breaking news yesterday that one of the fellows who thought it was a laugh riot to shout “Fuck her in the pussy” at a television camera pointed at a female reporter (a friend mentioned that this has happened to male reporters too; I am now aware of one instance of that happening, so I thank Friend for that information), there’s a big deal about whether one of the guys who did that ought to have been fired from his job for doing so. There are a couple of things I want to say about this whole thing. The first is about that – whether the young man ought to have lost his job. The second is about the whole meme itself and whether it is indeed (sexual) harassment and a bit more about freedom of speech, because that’s a really important thing that I don’t think is being talked about enough here by people who aren’t total dingbats involved with MRA (that’s Men’s Rights Associations).

First, doxxing is really shitty, okay? Don’t do that. (“Doxxing”, btw, is searching for, finding, and posting private information about someone online and on social media platforms.) There is this thing called presumption of innocence that covers criminal charges in most British/American legal systems. It basically means that until someone is found to be guilty of a criminal act, we must presume they are innocent. There are some pretty important reasons why we have this whole presumption of innocence thing (which is a legal right), and while I don’t know the full history of it (and again, am not a lawyer and do not have a degree in law), I do know that part of the reason it exists is to protect you as a citizen. Most people are not criminals, and therefore don’t deserve to be treated as criminals. Anyway, the point I’m making here is that doxxing is one of those things that kind of circumvents due process (we talked about that a couple of days ago). If someone has done something potentially criminal, and you can find and/or have information that may help *prove the case against them*, it’s your duty as a citizen to provide that information to the proper authorities (the police, lawyers, doctors, etc.), but not to the public. Retributive “justice” by people hiding behind their screens really isn’t justice. Every person, regardless of what they have been accused of doing, has the right to defend themselves against those charges.

Second, if your employer or your professional association has a code of conduct or code of ethics by which you must abide while in their employ, it is their duty to inform you of the code, and to ensure you understand it, and understand the implications of it. Sometimes that code of conduct will apply to your actions outside the workplace. Consider the codes of conduct required by the military, or by sports franchises, or by government/public employers. Each of these may include clauses which outline the kinds of behaviour which is not acceptable. I don’t know what the codes of conduct might have been for this fellow’s employer, but this fellow did do something pretty odious in a very, very public forum. If this employer has a “zero tolerance policy” for harassing or abusive language or behaviour in or outside of the workplace, this reaction is what a “zero tolerance policy” actually looks like.

Too many times…in fact, most of the time…people define “zero tolerance” as “just a wee bit of tolerance”. Just enough tolerance, in fact, to ensure that maybe it won’t happen a second time. Or a third. Probably not a fourth. Five, as they say about the Holy Hand-grenade of Antioch, is right out. Now, pardon me for being a bit pedantic, but “zero tolerance” should actually mean “we don’t tolerate this at all”, which in turn means “so if you do this, you’re out, buster.” “Zero tolerance” should not mean “let’s all have a sit-down together and talk about how your actions hurt someone”. You have to have that discussion BEFORE someone gets hurt.

There are people arguing that doing this sort of thing – shouting obscenities into a microphone during a live news broadcast is not (sexual) harassment. That it’s just something funny to do because you’re not supposed to swear on TeeVee (nor on the radio, in most cases). Now, we can have a good discussion about whether you ought or oughtn’t be allowed to say offensive or potentially offensive things on the air, but that’s a conversation for another time because most broadcasters have codes of conduct/ethics that outline what they are and aren’t allowed to broadcast. So if the goal of these yokels shouting things at live newscasts is to actually launch some kind of protest or to simply have cuss words broadcast on live teevee because broadcasting cusswords is funny, why not simply shout “fuck”? Or “asshole”? Or “prick”? Why not choose words that aren’t charged with potentially misogynistic interpretation? Sure, you can argue that all the best cusswords are about females and female anatomy (which of course will launch us in to a further discussion about gender issues), but if your *goal* is simply to say something offensive in front of a camera, why choose primarily female reporters to do it to? Why use a phrase that could even possibly be interpreted as promoting rape?

There are thousands of words you could choose. Just sticking with the many iterations of “fuck” alone would probably take up most of a month’s worth of live broadcasts. If this phenomenon really doesn’t have anything to do with women and gender, then why is it *mostly* (not always, as Friend pointed out) done to female reporters, and why insist on using the imperative mood (the kind of sentence that indicates commands/requests)? Although you may have a different intent, semantics happen, people. Semantics happen. How would you *expect* a female reporter to interpret someone running up behind her and shouting “fuck her right in the pussy”?

When it comes to freedom of speech, you’re right. Twits have every right to spout their twittery whenever and wherever they want. They must be willing to accept the consequences, because some twittery is actually illegal, or can be deemed hate speech or harassing or objectionable behaviour. Freedom of speech does not trump other laws. Particularly when those laws serve to protect other people from harm. How does shouting a stream of invective at a reporter cause harm? Well, first of all, it’s kind of a dick move, really. Second, you are hindering that reporter’s ability to do their job professionally. Third, you are causing the station broadcasting that report to possibly get in hot water with national licensing agencies. Fourth, depending on the invective you use, it could actually be threatening language. Fifth, it might be considered disturbing the peace. Sixth, did I mention dick move? I did, didn’t I? I’d go out on a limb here and say that at least 75% of dick moves (metaphorical dick moves; literal dick moves are the subject of a different discussion) are harmful. But the point here is that when it comes to your right to say whatever you want whenever you want, the only thing holding you back is other laws that protect others from being harmed, intimidated, hurt, etc., by what you’re saying.

It’s possible that the nitwits who claim that shouting sexually charged invective at live broadcasts isn’t meant to be sexist don’t understand that the actual words they’re saying are pretty sexist. It’s possible that they are sincere and really just want to see more cusswords on teevee. It’s also possible that this whole thing is some kind of protest movement against governments squeezing freedom of speech legislation from all angles (and certainly, if that’s the case, I highly recommend finding non-gender-specific swear words to shout at broadcasters of all genders – be prepared to live with the consequences of your actions!).  We may even be dealing with the IOFO effect (the It’s Only Funny Once principle).

My Friend also said perhaps it’s better just to ignore these morons and they’ll just stop doing asinine things like this all on their own. I’m not sure I agree with that, although Friend did post a Google Trends chart  that shows the incidents of the term being used on Google dropped off dramatically after it first became popular in early 2014.

I’m not sure I agree that ignoring odious behaviour makes it stop, but I AM convinced that we don’t need to agree with each other all the time. And I am convinced that this particular odious behaviour should just end now. People shouting stupid things at and making obscene gestures in front of live TV cameras isn’t new, and I’m sure it won’t go away. Because people are goofy. Sometimes, goofy is awesome (I’m one of those horrid people who thinks it’s hilarious when someone moons the camera on live TV). Sometimes, it isn’t goofy so much as really terrible. I do agree with my Friend that it should just end.

Waitaminute, do what to whom? In the where?

There are swears in this post.

Recently, Shauna Hunt, a reporter with CityNews television in Toronto, was filming a story outside a soccer game. Some fellows hanging around waited until the camera was rolling and then shouted “Fuck her in the pussy!” (heretofore shortened to FHITP). This ‘videobombing’ is one ‘a them…whattayacallems…odious viral behaviours originating supposedly from a newscaster’s blooper reel. You can read up on how the whole thing got started here. Ms. Hunt, clearly fed up to high heaven with this kind of idiocy, confronted the FHITPers and asked them why they thought that sort of thing was okay. Their response? “Because it’s funny.” “Because I didn’t mean it at you specifically, but for everyone.” “You’re too sensitive.” Today, the jackwagon doing the shouting was let go by his employer for his stupidity.

So, lest I be marked forever with the scarlet TS of “too sensitive”, I want to just assplain some things. Let’s start with a few premises:

1) I LOVE obscenities. I love SHOUTING obscenities. Obscenities are pleasing in my mouth, like delicious balls (snigger) of cookie dough or ice cream smothered in dark chocolate. Like pretty much anything drenched in garlic butter. I also recognise there are acceptable times and places for shouting obscenities. To wit: upon injury; following Great Consternation; to express frustration with one’s sports escapades; during any election; before, during, or after a physical altercation. Likewise and similarly, there are definitely times when obscenities ought to be whispered or thought about rather than shouted. To wit: at most religious observances; at the dinner table with Grandmother; in a grocery store; most places in public, provided one has not fallen prey to Grievous Injury, Great Consternation, or Physical Altercation.

2) Protests are important means by which people, unhappy with or uncomfortable with the status quo may garner attention for their cause. It’s okay for protests to disrupt citizens’ comfort, ease of access to public buildings or other services, provided the protests are not violent, and that the protests cause no harm.

3) Harassment, according to the Canadian Human Rights Code, is “any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates you” (http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/eng/content/what-harassment).

4) As Canadians, we have the right to free speech. The right to say whatever the fuck you want ends when it becomes illegal. Like when you promote hatred, intolerance, violence, or when your speech becomes harassing.

These are facts. We might disagree on some of the details of these facts, but in general, it’s pretty tough to say “that’s not what harassment is” when in fact, Canada says that’s what it is. So. Given those premises:

Running up behind (or milling about behind) a female reporter so that you can shout FHITP into her microphone so that it gets broadcast on television is harassment. Unless that reporter has asked you to please do that, of course, in which case, the entire argument is moot. Why is it harassment? Because by and large, that is unwanted verbal behaviour that is offensive and humiliating. How is it humiliating? Because the reporter whose microphone you are hollering at is a professional. It is her job to stand in the street and report on current events. If you would not run up behind a doctor in the operating room and holler “FHITP!”, don’t do it to a reporter. If you wouldn’t run up behind a teacher and holler “FHITP!”, don’t do it to a reporter. If you wouldn’t run up behind a construction worker and shout “FHITP!”, don’t do it to a reporter.

Let’s extend that a bit. If you wouldn’t run up behind a MALE reporter, doctor, teacher, construction worker, and yell “FHITP!”, don’t do it to a female one.

I get that you want to see yourself acting like a douche on TeeVee. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame. Some people want their fifteen minutes of fame to be because of their hard work, their achievements, their puppies, or their heartbreak. You, on the other hand, clearly want your fifteen minute of fame to be for acting like a twatwhistle in front of your mates because either you are fuelled with liquor or you are fuelled with idiocy. The only people who think that choads acting badly are funny are other choads who act badly. (Note: I steal that term, insulting as it is, quite liberally from my friend Arnisador who encounters choads on a regular basis in his work as a bouncer at Choad Nightly, the downtown dance/nightclub)

Insulting and threatening people because they have different anatomy than you do really isn’t the height of comedic genius. I realise this comes as quite a surprise, but unless you’re eleven and still think “well oh yeah? At least I don’t have BOOBIES” is an appropriate comeback for anything, U, as they say, R DOIN IT RONG. Clearly you don’t understand how shouting something obscene into a television reporter’s camera is threatening or insulting behaviour, so let’s just take a minute to drill down into that, shall we? This won’t take long.

Just because someone has a vagina doesn’t mean they want your penis in, on, or anywhere near it. Your penis really isn’t that special, and while making an earnest and heartfelt appeal to be allowed to place your penis in proximity to someone’s vagina can sometimes actually result in being granted permission, more often than not, that has more to do with mutual attraction, intelligence, and actual humour than it does with the suggestion itself. Now, if you didn’t actually WANT to put your penis in, on, or around someone’s vagina, why on earth would you be shouting it? Are you advocating that someone else do it? The chances of fucking-by-proxy are quite low, no matter how many times you have read Cyrano de Bergerac.

In this particular case, the reporter, Ms. Hunt, confronted the harassing warts and asked them why they thought it was okay to do what they’d done. Their responses range from “because it’s funny” to “everyone does it” to “it wasn’t directed at you so calm down”. When she asked if they thought their moms would find it funny, the response was “eventually, yeah, she’d find it hilarious.” I think what he meant was that “once my mother gets over being mortified that I would do such a thing, because she really did raise me to be better than this and has no idea that my opinion of women is kind of between tongue fuzz and fuck dolls, she might find the fact that I was filmed being a complete douchefart kind of funny because of the talking-to I got from the reporter.”

Some things you see on television (or on the internet) should not be repeated. Jumping off of a roof, for instance, jumping from one moving vehicle to another, picking up your children from school in the nude, shouting harassing things to, at, or near a reporter…all of these things are pretty much just bad ideas. Smart people understand that.

But I want an answer to one of Ms. Hunt’s questions – how would you like it if I walked up behind you at your work and shouted “fuck him in the asshole”? Is that something you would find funny? How about if I did it in front of your boss? In front of your mom? How about if I got my friend Noah to do it? Just some random stranger running up behind you at your office, or your kiosk, or your workstation, and shouting that? Think that’d be funny? Maybe I should get a bunch of people together and we can all come and do that during one of your classes or one of your exams. Maybe while you’re doing your banking. Maybe while you’re on a date. Does that sound like it might be embarrassing? Because if it does, there’s a good chance it’s harassment.

Harassment, by the way, is illegal in Canada. So the reason you lost your job, buttmunch, is because you engaged in illegal activity, ON TELEVISION. You also demonstrated that you have no respect for other people, and that you think it’s okay to shout obscenities at someone just because she has a vagina and a camera.


Be Careful What You Don’t Ask For

PremierTweetNot even three full years after enacting moderately sexist “Frat House Legislation“, Premier Brad Wall announced that his government had “reversed our mistake to allow strip clubs in SK.” With a rather smug nod to the reason being related to human trafficking, without any …whattayacallit… proof or supporting documentation whatsoever, without any public consultation other than the irate moral majority who have nothing better to do than call in to radio talk shows to rant about how watching someone get nekkit on stage at a bar is going to cause their children irreparable damage, and without any, it would seem, common sense.

Leaving for a moment, our senses behind, as is the wont of the government currently in power over us, let us contemplate all of the *actual* dangers of people getting nekkit while alcohol is being served:

  1. Boners
  2. Uncomfortable boners
  3. Spilling drinks (although it can be argued that people in any stage of dress or undress could cause drink spillage; we put this here simply to acknowledge potential dampness)
  4. Labial dampness unrelated to drink spillage
  5. Did I mention boners? Oh. I did. Right.
  6. Having God revoke your get-in-to-heaven-free card because it states quite plainly in 2 Abyssinians how “The Lord Shall Smiteth anyone whososever shall gaze upon the nekkit flesh of dancing dancers while consuming the wine of the grape or the beer of the barley plant”. Oh wait. That’s not in the bible? Really? Well who WROTE that thing? It should be. You know what? I’m just going to pencil that right in there. What do you MEAN Abyssinians isn’t a book in the bible? I’m penciling that in there too. THERE. Now there’s BIBLICAL PROOF that strippers are, like, evil and shit when there’s alcohol being served. TAKE THAT, ALBERTA. You’re all going to hell. Except Taber.
  8. Boners

Women and men who choose to dance, I can’t believe we have to go over this again, nekkit or mostly nekkit, choose to do so for many reasons. In some cases, women (primarily) and men are being forced in to the ILLEGAL SEX TRADE (of which, I’m sure, a side-line is perfectly legal, regulated, and inspected nightclubs) for a multitude of reasons, including *but not limited to* poverty, substance abuse, mental health challenges, abusive histories, and a shameful and general lack of support for any of those things.

This may be a naive and simple view of the issue, because I don’t have any of the details the provincial government used to base their wishy-washy reversal of their own legislation on. They haven’t chosen to make that information public yet. I would like to see the statistical numbers from police across the country that will show me a positive causative relationship between dancing with your clothes off while alcohol is served and a rise in human trafficking.

The assumption that this legislation ONLY affects “young women” shows a fairly common (but maddening) dismissal of what’s actually happening in the sex trade.

This legislation isn’t going to protect young people at risk (regardless of their gender). It will serve to drive those activities further underground and will put the people working in these trades at further risk. You want to talk exploitation? Let’s talk about whether someone who chooses to dance partially nude (remember, the previous legislation prevented women (and only women) from displaying the “ends of their breasts” (nipples) and all dancers from displaying their genitals) is being exploited, or whether someone who’s had to, for a multitude of reasons, turn to the streets to earn their living and who is forced in to dancing partially nude (or fully nude, since the reversed new legislation doesn’t care about nipples OR junk) is being exploited. I know some folks will say both people are being exploited. I think that choice is, at its core, fundamentally empowering. And if you freely and without coercion, understanding all the risks and benefits, choose to shake your booty at a bunch of people who are simultaneously consuming liquor, THAT SHOULD BE YOUR RIGHT.

Making sex illegal does not stop the sex trade. It never has. What it DOES do is put sex workers at risk. There IS empirical evidence to support this.

Now. We’ve left our sense behind long enough. Let’s look at what else this asinine decision does.

  1. Removes any sort of credibility the governing party might once have had. The initial legislation was introduced in the fall of 2012, and it wasn’t until two years later that licensed establishments were beginning to pop up. There were discussions about where strip clubs could and couldn’t be located (not within 50 feet of a bowling alley, that’s for sure), and local business owners were just starting to really take advantage of this new and somewhat progressive (if sexist) legislation. But then, in March 2015, the Premier announced that nope, sorry. No titties. Specifically, no titties while you enjoy a brew.
  2. Proves to the people of Canada that Saskatchewan is pretty much a laughing-stock of a province. Because no matter how much you trumpet that this decision was “not motivated by the morality police”, NOBODY IS GOING TO BELIEVE YOU. We’re already considered the bible belt of Canada, for God’s sake. Hell, just try being brown. Or even off-white. WE ARE THE OZARKS OF CANADA.
  3. If you don’t care about what the rest of the country thinks about us (and if you’re willing to stop comparing us to Alberta), then maybe you care about what kind of precedent this move sets. The government brings in progressive legislation, and then, a week after it releases a somewhat shady budget (in which it borrows rather a lot of money in order to “balance the books”), it reverses the progressive legislation. That kind of move screams “SHELL GAME! SHELL GAME!”. Where SHOULD you be looking?
  4. By re-criminalizing (partially) nude performances in licensed establishments while alcohol is being served, the Saskatchewan government has re-linked burlesque performances, strip teases, and exotic dancing with the illegal sex trade. Philosophically and realistically.
  5. We’ve just called every woman and man who chooses to do burlesque, strip tease, and exotic dancing a prostitute. How? We’ve just said, by repealing this legislation, that nude performances in licensed establishments when liquor is being served is pretty much the same thing as people being sold against their will for sex acts. We haven’t said that overtly, but that is absolutely one of the connotations. Classy.

This could turn in to a much longer rant about how the only real way to combat the illegal sex trade is to legalize (or at the VERY least decriminalize) all aspects of the sex trade, but I’m not going to go there. That’s for another day.

I would like to hear from the parents of children in places where strip teases, exotic dancing, and burlesque are legal and regulated at licensed establishments. I want to know how, exactly your children have been IRREPARABLY DAMAGED. I would like to know how much the crime stats have risen in regard to human trafficking, and how much of that can be directly related to topless (but with pasties) dancing women, and not to OTHER organized crime activities like, oh, I dunno, drugs and weapons.

I will admit I don’t know a whole lot about organized crime, so I don’t know if it’s a common practice for, like, the Russian mob to make under-the-table deals with legitimate, law-abiding business owners to provide underage or coerced/unwilling strippers for their shows. The guy who ran that strip club in small town Saskatchewan seemed pretty okay with what sounded like a fairly dodgy practice, and I’d like to see business owners have an incentive to hire Saskatchewan performers over imported talent in general – not just in the thong-and-pasties categories. I think that’d go a long way to combating human trafficking in strip clubs.

Ultimately, I have to trust that the Premier of Saskatchewan is operating on some very compelling, very provable, very reliable statistics that without a shadow of a doubt prove that women (particularly) and men shaking their mostly nude booties in establishments where patrons consume liquor are at risk of human trafficking. Sadly, I don’t trust that the Premier of Saskatchewan has any such information, because if he did, he’d release it for public scrutiny. And if the Premier of Saskatchewan will backpedal so fast and so completely on this issue, what else is he going to backpedal on?

I’m disappointed in my province once again.


Saskatchewan Racist as Fuck No Surprise To Anyone But Folks Who Don’t Like Indians

Yeah, I stole the title from my own Twitter stream.

I’ve seen these headlines over the last couple of days that talk about how SHOCKED everyone is to find out that SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH has PROVEN that Saskatchewan is full of people who pretty much hate each other. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has lived in this province for more than ten minutes. Seriously, we can’t stand each other. But because it’s so goddamned cold in this province, we help each other because there’s a good chance that at some point in the near future you’re going to be stranded on that stretch of highway #1 between Moose Jaw and Swift Current where literally nothing happens for days unless someone is looking, which nobody ever is.

"Deny" image by Asif Akbar used royalty-free from freeimages.com
“Deny” image by Asif Akbar used royalty-free from freeimages.com

White folks are racist towards “The Indians” (or, if you’re outside of a small town but not quite in one of the cities, “The Natives”), “The Immigrants”, “Those Mooselimbs”, “The Catholics”, “The Protestants”, “That Black Guy” [excluding football players], “The Chinese” (sometimes also referred to as “Asians” as if Asia weren’t, you know, fucking immense and full of many nationalities, but whatever. See “The Indians” above.), “The French” and basically anyone who can’t trace their own lineage to other white folks. French people are not included as “white folks” because Quebec. And of course people (mostly dolts) talk about “reverse racism” (which doesn’t exist) which is what happens when a brown person hates a non-brown person. It’s still racism. It’s just the kind of racism that happens when an historically ill-served and abused culture ends up hating the privileged class or race.

And yes, I’m just going to go ahead and use the term “racist” and “racism” synonymously with “bigot” and “bigotry” because sometimes when I get going on a rant I don’t much care about the vagaries of nit-picky word origin when we all know what we mean. We mean the kind of knee-jerk, ingrained, culturally insensitive distaste and prejudice we have against an entire class/culture/group of people based on a single or small select group of characteristics. SO GO AHEAD AND TELL ME IT ISN’T TECHNICALLY RACISM TO HATE MUSLIMS. It’s still ruddy bigotry so that’s what we’re dealing with.

Look, we have a long and storied history of misunderstanding, ignoring, mistreating, and basically hating the Aboriginal peoples of our province. And the immigrant peoples. This comes primarily from the long and storied history we have, as descendents of Europeans, of hating each other. THIS IS WHAT WE DO. It should come as no surprise to anyone that WE STILL HATE EACH OTHER. Because what have we done to change our own behaviour?

Sure, you watched a movie about Gandhi, and boy howdy he was a really smart little Indian dude. You thought Nelson Mandela was kind of keen. You said you’d have voted for Obama. It’s sure easy to point our fingers at all the hate and intolerance all over the world and still be unable to see our own prejudices. To be unable to acknowledge that we still comment about how our doctors are “darkies, but they’re not quacks” (that’s a direct quote from a guy I know). To express shocking ignorance at our own history of systematic destruction of entire nations’ language, culture, and religion in what any other place would be called genocide or ethnic cleansing but what in Canada we choose to call “that nasty business with the residential schools”.

It’s pretty easy to say shit like “well all that nasty business that happened with the residential schools – you should just get over it. If it weren’t for the Europeans, you’d still be living in tents, for God’s sake”, which is something I still hear people say. And they’re not joking. Heaven forfend you should mention Treaties. Because somehow, magically, these internationally-binding agreements that *our government* signed on *our behalf* don’t apply to us? Because, what, that was just, you know, a thing that some dudes did, like, a hundred years ago or whatever but it doesn’t apply now.

Do you know why there are a bunch of different countries in Europe? Africa? Asia? BECAUSE OF INTERNATIONAL TREATIES, you boob.

Anyway. Yeah. That Saskatchewan is racist as fuck is not news. That very few people seem to be able to figure out that ACCURATE INFORMATION and education is the first way out of the hole into which we have all, seemingly quite happily, jumped is pretty sad. The first step in eradicating racism is a very, very easy step. But it involves leaving your ego at the door, and sadly, I don’t think we’re even close to that yet.

By sea, by land, by air

Japanese Canadian Veterans' Monument in Stanley Park
Japanese Canadian Veterans’ Monument in Stanley Park
Canada has operated internment camps for Japanese, Ukrainian, German, and Italian Canadians. These Canadian citizens and immigrants were accused of being saboteurs and spies and were forcibly removed from their homes and were detained in government-run work camps throughout the country. They were not permitted any defense, and in fact, there was no proof that they were anything other than hardworking immigrants and/or citizens of Canada. Their property was confiscated.

More than 22,000 Japanese citizens (more than half of whom were Canadian citizens by birth) were interned and quarantined in camps in British Columbia by the Canadian government, with no proof, no defense, no recourse during WWII. Many of the men and boys were forced to labour on roads, in logging camps, and on farms. Some of the camp conditions were deplorable. The Red Cross sent food shipments into the interment camps in Canada because there wasn’t enough food. This happened within living memory. We did this. Does it sound familiar?

Ukrainian Canadians Veterans' Monument in Banff
Ukrainian Canadians Veterans’ Monument in Banff

It should sound familiar.

Following the Great War (WWI, if you’ve forgotten your history), thousands of Ukrainian Canadians were rounded up as “enemy aliens” under the War Measures Act of 1914. They were not permitted to work in Canada, and many were picked up at the border, where they were trying to cross into the US to find jobs. Although Great Britain had recommended its Commonwealth Countries to “not to act indiscriminately against subject nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who were in fact friendly to the British Empire”*, the Canadian government thought it would be best to ignore that recommendation. Or to interpret it creatively.

These camps forced labour, did not offer proper medical treatment, and frequently did not have enough food to feed the prisoners. Prisoners died of disease and injury. They died trying to escape. Some were deported back to the country they had emmigrated from (escaped from?) during the Russian Civil War/Ukrainian War of Independence. 24 camps were operated between 1914 and 1920.

Does this sound familiar?

Aboriginal Veterans' Monument in Ottawa
Aboriginal Veterans’ Monument in Ottawa

Our government has a shameful, probably criminal history of its treatment of Aboriginal peoples. Our government and its agents relocated thousands of Aboriginal peoples, removing them from their ancestral homes and forcing them to live on Reserves. Our government employed starvation tactics, fear tactics, and outright violence against the First Peoples. Many of the government’s Treaty obligations were not fulfilled by the government, or were fulfilled poorly. Conditions on Reserve land were, in many cases, atrocious.

In most places in our country, Aboriginals were not permitted to work. They were not permitted to vote. They didn’t count as “people”. They had no voice. I think the government of the day just kind of hoped the Aboriginal people would just kind of quietly …go away.

The Canadian Government forced Aboriginal children out of their homes on Treaty land and into Residential Schools, where the children were stripped of their culture, their language, their religion, and, in many cases, human dignity. They were abused, lied to, and beaten. They were forced into lives with no safety nets, no ties to their own history. They were forced away from their families and, in some cases, weren’t even permitted to touch one another. This kind of treatment is now recognized in most places as torture.

But do you know what happened?

In the early teens, Canada asked for volunteers to fight a war across the pond in Europe. And again in the 40s. And again in the 50s. And again and again and again. Canada has never had a conscription program – that means that every single soldier, every single person who works in the military and police forces across the country – every one of them is a volunteer. They choose to serve their country. I want you to think about that. I want you to think about what our government did to these families. To these cultures. To these people. I want you to think about that, and then think about what it meant for them to then say “yes, I will fight a war on foreign soil in the name of this country.”

Aboriginal Veterans
Aboriginal Veterans

I want you to think about the last wrong done against you. Are you willing to look past that wrong and serve the person who committed that wrong against you?

Let’s all just remember that our veterans and active service people are volunteers. Even when their country doesn’t serve them well; they still serve for us.

*Source: Wikipedia: Ukrainian Canadian Internment

[My Favourite L7 Song Here]

There is a photograph making the rounds on social media.

I’m not going to post it because a) it’s an artist’s property, and reproducing it without permission is copyright violation; b) I don’t want to; c) I don’t want to name the artist because I think the artist’s work is really quite stunning, and it’s actually the nature of the image that upsets me, and that might have been the client’s choice and not the artist’s choice; and d) I’m pretty good with word-pictures.

The image shows a man standing with a long gun in front of some bales. A young man stands near him holding a sign that says something like “if you want to get at my sister, you have to go through me”. Between the young man and the man with a gun are two (apparently male) children, each with a sign that says “and me!” On the other side of the man with a gun is a smiling girl.

I see the humour in this. I really do. I get it.

But I don’t like it. It makes me angry.

First, because your eye is drawn immediately to the signs, you end up kind of losing the girl. I mean, I’m no photographer, but I almost missed the fact that there actually is a girl in the photo.

Second, because on the social “needia”, as I have coined it, the photograph is accompanied by something like “repost if you have girls”.

You may want to sit down.

Girls and women do not need boys and men to protect them. We really, really don’t. Girls and women are perfectly capable of protecting themselves. We really are. We don’t need male protection any more than men need female protection. Girls and women and boys and men need respect, kindness, education, shelter, sustenance, love, and nurture. Not necessarily in that order. Girls and women and boys and men need safety, security, and equitable treatment.

Girls and women are not vulnerable because they are female. Girls and women are preyed upon because we are TOLD/TAUGHT they are vulnerable because they are weak because they are female. Boys and men are not stronger because they are male. Boys and men are perceived to be stronger because we are TOLD/TAUGHT that they are stronger because they are male. Yes, these are tautological arguments (and therefore are fallacies).

When we perpetuate these crackpot myths (that women need protection and that men are their natural/must be their protectors), we’re playing a part in keeping alive gender-based roles and stereotypes that ultimately do more harm than good.

Let’s break it down for a moment: Do you feel the need to protect your daughters but not your sons? Are you comfortable teaching your daughters about sexual harassment and rape, but don’t feel the need to teach your sons about the same things? Why are you treating your sons and daughters differently?

This photograph represents a systematic cycle of socially-acceptable violence that does no good. It does no good. It is a systematic cycle of gender-based segregation and inequality.

Pretend you are a girl. Pretend you have been told your whole life (or that you have heard your whole life) things like “they’ll have to get through me first.” On the surface, it might seem reassuring. You’re protected. You’re safe. But what does that really say? It says on some level “I don’t think you can handle adversity.” It says, on some level “you cannot fight your own battles”. It says, on some level “I will do this for you.”

Now pretend someone is speaking on your behalf. And pretend that someone is acting on your behalf. You haven’t asked them to. You don’t particularly want them to. They’re doing it because you wear shirts with no buttons, and everyone knows that people who wear shirts with no buttons are not capable of taking care of themselves in their interpersonal relationships. They are weak. Fearful. Timid. Unable. Do you, as a shirts-with-no-buttons person, feel particularly confident? Capable? ABLE? Strong?

I know I’m over-reacting to this image. I know I’m probably over thinking it. And it’s not about chivalry or misandry or telling boys and men they’re wrong. It’s about questioning the roles and stereotypes we place on one another simply because of what we have between our legs. It’s pervasive. It’s ubiquitous. It’s extremely difficult to ignore. And it does no good.