Tag Archives: equal rights

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.

You’re out of control

Image from miaminewtimes.com

I wasn’t going to say anything about this. I’ve been trying to decrease the number of negative things I put out there into the megaverse, but I think I can’t sit on this any longer.

Dear CTV host Michelle Gerwing and Newstalk1010: Every time you make comments like “what are all the wives – the football widows -going to do for the next few weeks while their husbands are watching the games” and “ladies what will you do for the next five months? At least the Superbowl half time show looks promising. Bruno Mars?”, you are being sexist assholes. The assumption that women don’t like football is asinine. Some people don’t like sports. Their gender doesn’t matter. Well. I’m sure their gender matters *to them*, but it doesn’t matter to their enjoyment (or non-enjoyment) of sports.

Now, I don’t know who Bruno Mars is, and I don’t actually give a fiddler’s fart about halftime programming, whether it’s at the Grey Cup or at the Superbowl. And, just for the record, I don’t like shopping, I don’t wear makeup, and I do enjoy both football and politics. This does not make me an “exceptional” woman. Nor does it make me an “unusual” woman. It makes me a woman.

Now, if you had just said “football widow” or “football single” or “non-football folks” (which has the same number of syllables), I wouldn’t be upset. Because what you’re really saying is that for football fans, the very best time of the year is at hand. There is football on television nearly every night. Both the CFL and the NFL are playing their regular season. Basically, it doesn’t get better for football fans than September – November (and into February for NFL fans).

So just leave gender out of it. When you perpetrate sexist myths, you make it that much more difficult for the rest of us to have our voices heard in other areas. If it’s okay to be sexist in regards to sports, then we’re doing it wrong. And it’s not like we don’t already have an uphill battle when it comes to equality for marginalized or underprivileged groups.

I’m sure I’ll get all the hate mail from women who prefer to be called “football widows” or “sports wives”. Whatever turns your crank. I just don’t appreciate being painted with the same brush just because I have an inny.

P.S. I still like football even when my favourite team sucks.

Jump down

I get myself into the most interesting conversations. Usually that’s because I’ve figured out that one of the greatest secrets to an interesting and happy life is to surround yourself with interesting and incredibly clever people. I’ve said before that we don’t all need to agree. And sometimes, it’s better when we don’t agree.

So some of my friends have a big problem with agencies like the Human Rights Commission, and its various regional agencies. I’ve heard, plenty of times, about how we are becoming such a sensitive society that it doesn’t matter what you do or say, someone will take offense to something. I have also heard recently the comment that when nobody takes offense to things anymore, that’s a sign that we’ve actually made progress when it comes to human rights.

I’m going to parse something here: The OED defines Human Rights as

a right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person

Wikipedia says:

Human rights are “commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being”. Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone).

So. Now that we’re on the same page as to what human rights are, I’m going to say something that you’re probably going to find distasteful. Well, you might. I’m still not entirely certain how I feel about this myself.

With the passing of equality in marriage legislation all over the world (which will, I desperately hope, eventually lead to a greater separation of religion and government) come a number of challenges that arise, by and large, because the majority of western civilization as it currently stands has been governed by people who, for the most part, come from a fairly homogeneous background: religious. Specifically, Abrahamic (which is also called Judaeo-Christian-Muslim) religions.

This means that when we enact legislation that makes it unequivocally clear that marriage is marriage is marriage regardless of the shape of your reproductive organs, there are people who are going to remain opposed to the practice of certain behaviours for religious reasons. And I am just going to be VERY clear that I fully support anyone in their religious beliefs. I am also not going to discuss at all what my own religious beliefs are. Not that that matters.

In the past little while, there have been cases which have popped up involving non-traditional fiancées being denied marriage/wedding services because the proprietors of local businesses refuse to provide these services on religious grounds. In many cases, the couples involved have taken their cases to their local human rights commission. And, for the most part, their experiences have been declared discriminatory treatment.

There is a second argument here, though. It is an argument that, yes, comes from a place of privilege. It comes from a place of, for lack of a better term, majority. Of tradition. Of what has always been. The argument is that if human rights protect us from discrimination, they ought to apply unilaterally. Which is to say, not only should these laws protect us from discrimination based on race, religion, gender identity, and sexual preference, but they ought also to protect us from discrimination based AGAINST race, religion, gender identity, and sexual preference.

What I mean is, the argument that the marriage commissioner has the right to deny his services to gay couples. That a baker has the right to deny his services to gay couples. That a dressmaker has the right to deny her services to a transgender woman. Now these claims are distasteful to us, of course. Because it is clear to us that these business owners are denying their services on a prejudicial basis. It makes sense to me that if you can’t provide the major part of your services to a portion of the population based on your own religious beliefs, you may be misunderstanding your religious doctrines.

I’ve studied comparative religions, and I’ve probably studied a dozen religious traditions relatively thoroughly, and while I can’t tell you what some of the finer parts of their theologies may be, I can tell you that none of the religions I have ever studied (and this includes, but is not limited to the Abrahamic religions) say it is against God’s law to bake a cake. I’m serious. Not a single religion that I’ve come across says your soul will be eternally punished for baking a cake. Nor for letting a man wear a dress in your shop. I mean, many religions are very, very, VERY clear on what you can and cannot do, right down to what you’re permitted to eat when, and which hand you ought to wipe your bottom with. And NONE of them say “thou shalt not bake a cake unto a faggot; likewise unto a dyke; likewise unto an hermaphrodite”.

In fact, there isn’t any part of the bible that says it’s against God’s law to perform a civil marriage ceremony if the people you’re marrying are two dudes. Or two ladies. Or two snails. What it SAYS is that those folks can’t “lay with one another”. Which means that WHAT THEY DO IN PUBLIC, INCLUDING PROFESS THEIR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER, IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS. What the liturgies DO say is that the purpose of marriage is to sanctify the sin of fornication FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF MAKING BABIES. (Seriously. If people who are past child-bearing years want to get married, there’s a different liturgy.) The whole point of marriage *in the church* is null and void when the people getting married aren’t going to be making babies with one another, so since it’s a moot point, there is no Great Directive that says “Thou shalt not marry two dudes, nor two ladies, nor anything other than one dude and one lady. Snails are Right Out.”

Now, I don’t want to get into THAT discussion. I’m just pointing out the facts.

So. You have a business. Your business caters to people getting married. YOU have a problem with any form of marriage other than dude+lady. Therefore, you do not want to provide your service to dude+dude; lady+lady; snail+cockatoo…whatever. You are being discriminatory. Yes you are. YES, you ARE. That is a FACT. You are, in fact, kind of being the poster child for ‘discrimination’. You are discerning between “services for heterosexuals” and “services for non-heterosexuals”. As things currently stand, if this is your position, complaints can (and probably will) be levied against you for discrimination by some form of human rights organisation. AND THEY WOULD BE RIGHT TO DO SO. Because the purview of the human rights association is to ensure people have equal access to publicly provided services.

Now if you are denied services based on your religious beliefs, heritage, gender identity, and/or sexual preference, *you* get to launch a complaint with the human rights association. HOWEVER. You do NOT get to complain that you are being discriminated against for being charged for being discriminatory. Which is to say, if you are providing a service to the public, you must provide that service to the public. That’s the way things work right now. It’s a free market thing. If you don’t want to provide a service to the public, then don’t provide a service to the public.

If you want to hang a sign in your window that says “we only serve heterosexuals”, you should! I guarantee someone else will move in next door and hang a sign that says “we only serve homosexuals”. And you could BOTH be charged by the human rights commission. But it’s an interesting proposal. Segregation worked quite well in the US for many years in keeping one type of person out of another type of person’s shop.

Is buying a cake a right? No. Is having a wedding cake at your wedding a right? No. Is buying a dress a right? No. The RIGHT that is being violated in each of these cases is the *equal access to service*. You can have a perfectly good wedding without a cake, without a dress (#DownWithPants), and without confetti. Gay confetti OR straight confetti. But if you WANT a cake, you should be able to GET a cake. If the bigot up the street doesn’t want to serve you because you’re gay, he shouldn’t be in business. If he had hung a sign up in his window that said “We only do wedding cakes for hetero couples”, you wouldn’t have even gone into his shop; you’d have walked right by it to the shop with “We LOVE gay cakes!” sign in the window. And truthfully, so would I.

So there is an argument that a free market approach to this sort of thing is okay. That, as long as there are businesses who provide services to everyone equally, you should be able to be as select with your clientele as you wish. I’m trying to think of a business that actually works on this model and all I can come up with is private clubs (you know, like those golf clubs down south where they still don’t allow women, Jews, or black folks to play unless they have a white, Christian member invite them?), but not service-industry business. So examples would be good here.

It’s kind of like companies in Canada who provide services only in French or only in English. That’s illegal, because we have to provide services in both languages…but that’s the same kind of idea. It’s also a little like companies that only provide services in one region.

Basically, let the market determine this stuff, is the suggestion. Again, based on the premise that you still have equal access to the same services. Now, you’d also have to be okay with restaurants that only serve Chinese people, and clothing stores that only let you shop there if you’re a Muslim male, and banks that only people under 40 can use, and hotels that will only rent a room to you if you show them your marriage license. Certainly, I’d be spending my money at the shops and services which allowed everyone.

The government is not telling people that they can’t have their own businesses. The government is not telling people how to run their businesses. The human rights associations aren’t telling religious people that they can’t practice their religions. What the human rights associations are saying is that you cannot deny OTHERS services based on YOUR religion. The PEOPLE are telling business owners what is acceptable business practice. WE elect the legislators who draft the laws that we have to follow. Human rights associations are there to ensure the laws that are already in existence are followed. You can have sour grapes all you want over the idea that women get to vote, but the politicians that YOU elected to speak for you are making these laws.

So until you can show me where in any religious text it says “as a member of this church, you can not sell cake to the gays”, I will not believe you that it is against your religion to provide a wedding cake to someone. What if someone wanted to buy a wedding cake for a FAKE WEDDING? That’s a LIE! Lies are against your religion too. Are you saying you wouldn’t sell someone a wedding cake for a fake wedding? For a LIE? And until you can show me where in any religious text it says “as a member of this church, you can not sell dresses to the trannies”, I will not believe you that it is against your religions to provide a dress (or a dressing room) to someone. What if it was for a costume party? Would you still deny service then? And until you can show me where in any religious text it says “as a member of this church, you may not provide non-religious civil services”, I will not believe you that it is against your religion to provide commissioner of oaths services. So while I will be the first to stand up for you when your rights are ACTUALLY tramped upon…when they tell you you can’t practice your religion, or you can’t eat fish on Friday, or you can’t wear religious headgear, I will NOT stand up for you when you use your religion to explain your bigotry.

Wow. That got waaay off the rails. Sorry.

Seriously, it doesn’t have to be this difficult

I heard something in passing a few days ago that I didn’t think much of at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more it festered. I heard someone say that women are not permitted to participate in actual combat in the United States military. I thought, ‘no…that’s ridiculous. Who would make a stupid rule like that?’

Turns out, stupid rules like that do exist.

It has only been since 1985 that women have been allowed to serve on submarines. NINETEEN EIGHTY FIVE. I mean, okay, the first time ANYONE served on a submarine was in the early teens of the twentieth century, but NINETEEN EIGHTY FIVE, people. Do you even know how ridiculous that is?

I don’t want to get too sidetracked here on the basic ridiculousness of sexism, because I could just go on mocking folks all day. You know, for a *change*.

Anyway, I’d heard the claims that women cannot match men when it comes to physical exertion and ability. I’d heard the goofy idea that men in the military would be ‘adversely affected’ in seeing a female comrade fall to enemy fire. I’d even heard that womens’ roles are as nurturers; that we need women in order to raise up the next generation (of soldiers, presumably). And that allowing women (and, for that matter, gay folks) would somehow cause military units to crumble with diversity.

In my naïveté, I thought these arguments were just simple smokescreens for basic sexism. And they may well be. But there are people who actually *believe* this crap. That always comes as a surprise to me.

I was sent this article which discusses a recent move in the US military to lift bans on women participating in combat. And something really struck me when I read:

Americans will not tolerate large numbers of women coming home in body bags.

And here it is.

Do you value your sons so little? Are your daughters more worthy than your sons? Because if this is the case, I think you’re doing it wrong. On one hand, the right-wing says that women are content in their subordinate roles as caregivers and mothers. That it’s okay to have special rules for women because they’re just not as capable as men. So on one hand, they *devalue* women. But then they turn around and say, “No no no, you cannot let women get killed in combat. We won’t stand for that.”

So you’re fine with indentured servitude (proscribed roles for women), but you’re not okay with freedom (womens’ right to choose how to serve their country). Gotcha. You know, that’s kind of backward to the way you’re portrayed in the media.

But I want to get back to something here. It’s okay to send dozens of young men home in bags, but you take a step back when there’s a possibility some of those body bags contain uteri? “Well, no”, you’ll say, “ideally we don’t want ANYONE to have to give their life for their country.”

But, in essence, when someone DOES give their life for their country, better it be a young man. I do not see the logic here.

Rick Santorum, who is a raging madman (in fact, I usually refer to him as Rick Sanatorium), claims that the reason it would be a mistake to ALLOW women full participation in the military is because it would be really difficult emotionally for male soldiers to see a female soldier’s life threatened, and that reaction would be distracting from their missions. Because, you know, watching an enemy of the state blow your buddy’s brains out in front of you is fine as long as your buddy is another dude.

More mind-boggling are the comments of one of the people who served on a task force that studied the role of women in the military in 1992. Elaine Donnelly said:

it’s a cultural issue and that Santorum’s concerns are legitimate. The commission voted against sending women in close combat because “that would like being an endorsement of violence against women,” she said.

*FACEPALM*

No, really. Go back and read that again.

You cannot allow women in the military because that means our country supports violence against women. We also support violence against men, but that doesn’t matter because men can take care of themselves. You know, it’s too bad there aren’t people who are opposed to violence. Then maybe we wouldn’t NEED a military.

I feel this is a good time to point out that Ms. Donnelly is the president of the Center for Military Readiness. While I’m sure this is a worthy organisation, I can’t help but imagine it as a bunch of super jumpy people in a high-tech room, all of whom have had WAAY too much coffee. And they all just cop these ninja poses every now and then and shout: “ARE YOU READY? **ARE YOU READY!!!???**”

She (Donnelly) goes on to say:

If a soldier is injured and his support soldier is a woman, “that man dies because she’s not going to be able to meet the physical requirements and it doesn’t matter how brave and courageous she is. … We respect women in the military but when you’re talking about direct ground combat, if you start making diversity the most important factor, then you put lives at risk.”

As my good friend Ferlak pointed out, the army has combat readiness tests, and if you don’t pass those, you don’t get to do frontline combat, period. Regardless, one would assume, of your gender. Trust me, if you were on the front lines with His Nibs and I, which of us would you want dragging your shellshocked arse back behind a tank and out of the line of fire? [Note: you want me.] [Also note: I'm a chick.]

I should just like to point out that I am of the extreme left-wing socialist bent who is opposed to the need for a military period. This doesn’t mean I think there are times when military action isn’t the fastest and most effective way of protecting people against despotic military regimes, genocide, and all sorts of evil acts performed by men and women on one another. I *despise* the taking of human lives, no matter in whose name it is done. But here’s the ticket….I despise the taking of male lives *just as much* as I despise the taking of female lives.

It is no more wrong to hurt a woman than it is to hurt a man.

And this archaic, backward policy that the Pentagon is trying to change (that of women not being permitted to serve in combat roles) needs to go. It needs to recognise the value of *all* lives, regardless of their gender.

Give some more credit to the people who *do* choose to serve in the military (I am certainly not one of them), and in their ability to do their jobs, and to do them well, regardless of their chromosomes.

Also, my American friends, PLEASE don’t elect a nutbar. PLEASE don’t elect Rick Sanatorium. Or Mitt Romney (HIS NAME IS MITT. MITT. HOW CAN YOU, WITH A STRAIGHT FACE, EVEN CONSIDER SAYING “President MITT”?). Or Newt Gingritch. HIS NAME IS NEWT. NEWT. All three of these men are dangerous to freedom, liberty, and, to be honest, common sense. Some of them are dangerous to sanity. In exchange, I will do my very best to try to get Stephen Harper out of office here at home.

This seems backward

The public health region has begun, in the recent past, to provide vaccines for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) (or would that be ‘provide vaccines against HPV’?). HPV is a communicable virus (duh, cenobyte. “Virus” is in the name.) that can be passed fairly easily through contact of the skin, specifically the mucous membranes (which are the squishy, damp, pleasant bits of your body…unless you don’t find bumholes pleasant. Although that doesn’t make bumholes *not* mucous membranes, just to be clear. They’re still mucous membranes even if you’re not fond of them). HPV is most commonly (but not always) spread by sexual contact to these areas. It causes all kinds of basically grody things to happen, including the growth of warts, and, more seriously, certain cancers (although, and here’s something I just read today, apparently the strain of HPV that causes genital warts (ugh; that’s a horrid and difficult condition to deal with) is not necessarily the one that causes cervical cancer).

HPV is probably the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. It’s also one of the super fun ones that the use of condoms might not help prevent the spread of very much. Which is to say, because HPV can be spread by contact with any number of body parts, including tongue-on-tongue action,  unless you’re licking the inside of a doob before you snog, that condom won’t help you. That being said, you should still use condoms because they protect against all kinds of other things, including babies (sometimes).

Anyway, here’s the reason for the lesson y’all. The health region, as I said, has begun immunizing against the strain of HPV that is known to cause cancer. Specifically, the strain that most commonly causes cervical cancer. But here’s the thing: they are only immunizing girls.

Some of you might be saying, ‘but cenobyte, if it’s linked to cervical cancer, the number of boys who are vulnerable to cervical cancer are very, very low, so…’ But I want you to think about that statement. A large number of girls do end up, at some point in their life, having sexual contact of some kind with boys. Now. *Wouldn’t it be nice* if those boys had been immunized against HPV when they were in grade six so that the chances of their contracting and passing on the virus was lessened? Wouldn’t that kind of make sense?

Especially when you consider that the strain of HPV that most commonly causes cervical cancer *also* causes cancers of the mouth, throat, bumhole (I know, I know, it’s ‘anus’. But ‘bumhole’ is much more fun to say), and penis, and is found in many forms of skin cancer…

Especially when the stats gurus  (or “damned liars”, as Samuel Clemens would say) estimate that upwards of 85% of people who have more than one sexual relationship lasting for 3-4 months will contract some form of HPV…

We’re talking…okay, well, actually, *I* am talking about a vaccine that has been shown to reduce the chance of developing cancer. And while I applaud the fact that it’s been approved for use in school vaccination programs (not to no controversy, either. In addition to folks who think that vaccines cause aliens to communicate with you through the mercury used in the creation of the vaccine, which they also think causes autism, there are people who have problems with their children receiving a vaccine against a sexually-transmitted disease because *either* they choose to believe their precious children will not engage in premarital sexual activity, OR they have convinced themselves that even mentioning the word ‘sex’ will immediately cause their children to go out and have it. All of it. ALL OF THE SEX.), but I’m upset that it’s not offered to boys. And yes, I would be saying this even if I had girl children. Even if I had *no* children, for that matter.

If this vaccine can prevent my boys from contracting and spreading a virus, why shouldn’t they receive it?

Anyway, it’s just another one of those gender biases/gender inequity things that’s bugging me.

 

P.S. Bumhole.

I owe you. All of you.

You want to know what teachers make?

If you haven’t heard yet, teachers in SK are looking at job action because their union’s negotiations are not going well. Teachers in the province have been without a contract for a shameful amount of time, and while the action on Thursday is not specifically a strike (it is a rally and study day), people in Saskatchewan are acting like…well, they’re acting like jerks.

I don’t want to engage in a discussion about the worth of unions, because I suspect once we do, we’ll just have to agree that we don’t see eye-to-eye on the issue. But I do want to talk about what’s happening. What’s important here is this:

“The goal of the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee is to return to the bargaining table to negotiate an agreement that affirms the worth of teachers, not to take sanctions,” said Gwen Dueck, chief spokesperson for the Teachers’ Bargaining Committee.

And the important bit in there is the clause an agreement that affirms the worth of teachers. So let’s look at that. I’d like to look at it in a couple of ways. And before I do, I’d like to point out that a teacher at the beginning of their career (right out of University, with a four year degree) can probably expect to make around $45,000 a year. Teachers can make as much as $75,000 a year, with at least a decade of experience. Those aren’t particularly impressive salaries for professionals, but let’s just leave that aside for a moment.

  1. You don’t pay teachers directly to educate your children. We all of us in the province contribute, through our taxes, to educate your children. You’re more than welcome to choose to send your children to private school and pay out of pocket for the privilege. I have no idea how you can get out of paying the school portion of your property taxes, though. I guess you could just quit paying them.
  2. Teachers are not childminders. If you want a childminder, send your children to a babysitter instead of sending them to school. They won’t get an education, but you won’t have to deal with having to know your child’s school schedule, either. You’ll be able to go to work every day.
  3. As an alternative to #1 and #2, you can home-school your children. There are plenty of resources available for home-schoolers. Just remember that there’s a *reason* schools have extracurricular activities for students – as a home-schooler, you should make sure your children have ample opportunity to participate in team sports, arts and cultural activities, and other activities with their peers. Socialising is important.
  4. Teachers work more than 8 hours a day. They are usually at school before 8am and they usually leave school after 4pm. And that’s assuming they are not on any committees, are not involved in intramurals or in extracurricular activities, or are not on supervision duty. That also assumes they do not stay late or come early to help students who need some extra study time. That also assumes they do not participate in away-from-school trips for sports, band, or academic fairs/competitions. I challenge you to find a teacher who does not do at least one of the above.
  5. Teachers do not “get the summers off”. They do not get paid for the summer break. If you’d like to take two months off without pay, go right ahead. Many teachers will have their salaries pro-rated so that they receive less each cheque, so that they will receive *some* income over the summers. But it’s not paid vacation.
  6. Teachers do not take “vacation days” whenever they want. Professional Development days and Teacher Inservice Days are work days. Teachers are at work, usually at school or at a conference. Do you know what they do at those things? They learn how to better educate your children. If you think you can do a better job, see #3.
  7. If you feel your child is being treated unfairly or that your child’s teacher is not doing a good job of educating your child, you have options. According to the Education Act, you first talk to the teacher about the problem, and try to solve it that way. If that doesn’t work, you should approach the Principal. If that doesn’t work, you can go to the school board. I think you can even talk to someone at the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation as a last resort, although I’m not positive on that last one. If you don’t like what’s happening in your child’s classroom but you’re not proactive about it, you only have yourself to blame.
  8. through 10. Teachers educate your children. If you’re not prepared to teach your children how to read, how to write, how to do arithmetic, comprehension, music, art, physical education, how to write essays, how the Canadian political system works, why history is important and what our history is, chemistry, biology, physics, algebra, literature, grammar, spelling, heath, family life, sex ed, psychology, law, wood shop, mech shop, home economics, and a MULTITUDE of other things, then, really, shut the fuck up and sit down.

Sure, you have to work. You have to earn a living to put a roof over your head and to put food in your children’s mouths. I get that. We ALL get that. It’s *inconvenient for you* when teachers strike because you have to take time off of your own work. And some people might even lose their jobs over that. WE ALL GET THAT. Go back to point #2. Teachers are NOT childminders.

Go ahead and hate unions all you want. Go on. I’ll wait.

Got that out of your system? Good. Forget about the goddamned union, okay? It outlines their rights and their *responsibilities*. It includes a professional code of conduct. Teachers have a union because it wasn’t uncommon, not so very long ago, for teachers to be paid less than hotel kitchen staff. And it wasn’t uncommon for school boards to just decide not to pay teachers at all. Even now, teachers volunteer for FAR more than for which they are paid. Do you know why they do that?

BECAUSE THEY CARE ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN.

So before you go off the rails and bitch about how teachers have ‘no right to just walk off their jobs and leave my kids with nowhere to go’, and before you start mouthing off about how it ‘must be nice to have the summers off and only have to work 200 days a year’, go and do their job for a year. Hell. Do it for a *month*. You go in and wrangle twenty or thirty children, five days a week, ten months a year. Go in and come up with a way to keep those kids engaged and interested, day after day. Deal with their fights with each other. Deal with their parents who seem to think their own children are the only children attending the school; the ones who think their kids deserve an A because they “tried hard”.

Go in and try to teach children how to be respectful and accepting without talking about racism, because racism is not politically correct. Try to teach children how not to get pregnant or how not to contract social diseases without talking about sex, because sex is DANGEROUS. Get your own butt in gear and try to teach polynomial algebra to a bunch of kids who can’t bloody add because their teachers weren’t allowed to hold them back from grade six. Deal with the bureaucracy that can sometimes be wonderful but can also ruin your life and your passion. Deal with 30 tweenagers, or better yet, deal with 20 fifteen year old boys who think they are better than you, and their 15 female classmates who think they’re smarter than you.

You might not agree with *how much* of a rise in pay teachers are asking for, and that’s fair. I don’t agree with you (I think we should pay them far more than 12% over 1 year), but that’s okay. But don’t sit there and tell me teachers don’t DESERVE to be paid, and paid VERY WELL for their services.

Nomenclature

there are an awful lot of people marching and gathering together and trying to “take back the word ‘slut’”. They’re going on ‘slutwalks’ and they’re dressing like ‘sluts’. Why are they doing it? Because some dorkbrain of a cop managed to get quoted in the media as saying “if women wouldn’t dress like sluts, they wouldn’t be victimized”. I don’t even want to get in to how asinine that statement is, and if the police officer who said it isn’t regretting not listening to his inner voice that told him not to say it, I’d be very surprised.

I don’t begrudge people their rights to protest and to gather together and to have walks and movements and all that sort of thing. I think “sex positive” is probably something really good, although I usually get confused by whether that means ‘positive about sex’ or ‘positive about gender’ because most people don’t seem to know the difference between sex and gender. And it really is offensive and ridiculous to blame victims of sexual assault. Or any assault.

It’s just as ridiculous to say, “if you don’t do anything to set off a sociopath, you won’t get hurt” as it is to say “if you don’t dress like a slut, you won’t be victimised”. But you know that already.

So what’s this about?

I never gave out the word ‘slut’ and so I don’t think anybody needs to ‘take it back’ from me. I know there are people who get horribly offended by words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ and ‘bitch’ and ‘cunt’ and I could really go on here. And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to watch the meanings and connotations of word change. I just don’t think I need to take the word ‘slut’ back from anyone.

More importantly is eradicating the idea that assault, sexual or otherwise, are the fault of the person who is assaulted.

Some things do surprise me

Do you realise it’s been fewer than twenty years since Apartheid was officially abolished in South Africa?

For a social studies project in elementary school in the 80s, I did a report about Apartheid. No one in my class had heard of it. I talked about what it was, its historical roots in colonialism, its connexions to Canada, and I talked about the imprisonment of people like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

One girl in my class did her report on Duran Duran. The boy who sat in front of me (on whom I had an ENORMOUS crush) did his report on Van Halen. Someone else did Ukrainian immigration (this was the kid who puked in his desk one Friday and didn’t tell anyone about it)…needless to say, some kids were more socially aware than others. I mean, it’s pretty easy to pass judgement NOW and say “while I was doing a report on Apartheid, most of the girls in my class did reports on pop bands and lipstick” (actually, it was eyeshadow) “and that made me a better/smarter/more evolved person than they were”.

We were TWELVE.

Needless to say, I remember working extremely hard on my report, and getting a little worked up during the oral presentation. I may have even got a bit shouty when someone asked, “so what does this have to do with us? We don’t live in South Africa”. I remember talking about Canada’s colonial policies in the 1800s and the rumour that the South African government had called up the Canadian administration to ask how “[we] controlled our Natives”. I remember going a little off-topic and talking about the internment camps Canada shipped people off to during the war (Japanese internment camps, German internment camps, Ukrainian internment camps). I remember saying, “this is important stuff to know, because some day, we will be able to help change the world.”

So what does all this have to do with “now”?

Well, the other day, I heard The Captain singing a popular television commercial jingle. For yoghurt. The tune is a ripoff of an anti-apartheid song from the 80s by Eddy Grant (the song is called “Gimme Hope Jo’anna”, and it’s about Johannesburg and the race riots that happened there. It mentions the Suweto riots as well). It was my favourite song for about five years. Oh hell, I’ll just post it here:

Anyway, I heard The Captain singing this jingle, and I said, “you know, it kind of pisses me off that that song is being used to market yoghurt to children.” He asked why. We started talking about Apartheid. I gave him a copy of a graphic novel I have about Nelson Mandela. As I was telling him some of the history that I have forgotten more of, shamefully, than I remember, he said,
“You know what I hear as you talk about the black people and the white people and the Indian people and the coloured people?”

“What’s that, dude?”

“I hear you talking about people, Mum. Just people.”

I wish I’d have used that line in my presentation in 1982.

http://www.tera.ca

Imagine my surprise (and shame at not having known this before) to have learned that courts in Canada have been overturning decisions in which women have been charged with public indecency for being topless, since 1996! The website mentioned up there, for the Topfree Equal Rights Association highlights many cases of women charged with crimes, simply for going topless.

In some cases, women have been charged with public indecency for breastfeeding in public, and I’m pretty sure you know where Yours Truly stands on that particular piece of bull-twaddle.

Here’s the deal. The most important part of this entire discussion, that being whether women ought to have the right to go topless if they so desire (the answer to that is simply: “yes”, by the way), is not “YAY, PUBLIC BOOBIES!” (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but rather the fact that breasts are *not* sexual objects.

We have made them so, particularly since the early part of the 20th century. Back in the 1800s when table and piano legs were considered immodest, women’s bodies were dangerous places where the sin of the flesh may be found. Men? Not so much. Poor men were merely the victims of overpowering lust, incited by women’s immodesty. See how ridiculous that sounds? Well. Times change.

Women, by and large, do not and will not go topless, because, truth be told, they will be stared at, harassed, photographed, and filmed. Nobody pays any attention to Joe Jogger who’s carrying his shirt in his hand. But if there’s a woman walking topless, traffic stops and people stare and, sometimes, she gets arrested for public indecency.

And there are some people out there who are all in favour of topless freedom because they love boobies. Because to them, breasts *are* sexual objects, and the more boobies they get to see, the better their lives are. Bully for you guys, I say. I’m not going to tell you you can’t look and get your jollies that way. But what I *am* saying is that you may be in favour of topless freedom for the wrong reasons.

Head on over to the Go Topless website. Take a look at some of the “legal/illegal” images on that site. Incidentally, there are some people who say that ‘topless’ is a word that somehow is more synonymous with strippers and sex workers, and that ‘top free’ is an expression that promotes equality.

Not to belittle that argument, but whatever. I’m’a stick with ‘topless’ for the most part. ‘Top free’ sounds too much like some weird yoghurt product.

Anyway. Right. This is about equality, and the freedom of women to be topless (and here’s the important bit) **without persecution, harassment, or unwanted attention**. When you go to a beach or a park where it’s never been an issue whether people wear tops, regardless of gender, the only people staring are the people who are repressed, or who have been taught that breasts=sex. It *is* first base, after all.

I just…I’ve always figured that if someone is uncomfortable with my decision to read books in my backyard, wearing a top or not, that’s their problem, not mine. Yet, as a woman of means in the breast department, let me just tell you that there aren’t very many times when I enjoy people staring at my chest.

I might joke about it, or play along, but for the most part, I’d really rather there wasn’t such a big deal made about it. Or them. And if I decide to be topless in Wascana Park (as a woman was in 1998, who was later charged with indecency after the pool staff convinced someone to complain about said toplessness), I not only have the right to be so, but I also have the right to be so *free of harassment, staring, snickering, picture taking, comment, etc.*.

So I think what I’m trying to say is that folks should, by now, have figured some things out.

And also, that courts in Canada routinely overturn public indecency for being topless charges. Although I’m positive that this will never happen while certain sweater-vest-wearing knobs are still in power, it would be nice to see official legislation enacted that unequivocally offers this freedom to women *and* to men (and to every gender in between, for that matter) so that organisations like TERA don’t have to help Canadian women with their court costs when they’re arrested for doing something they have every right to do.