sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 Listening to some TERF spew TERF bollocks on CBC and I'm struck by how close the TERF (and their buddies, the misogynist right) sound to the arguments of anti-immigration types. You were not born X, therefore you can never be X, etc. Is it then coincidence that the two greatest points of unity on the Alt Reich are the opposition to the human rights of immigrants and trans people?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
Hopefully a continuing series where I criticize the left, but from a place of love. You know, if people are interested in that kind of thing.

Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. That's something I wholeheartedly support, being an unapologetic man-eating feminist myself. But like many good ideas that are too good for the moderates to fully ignore, it's quite often watered-down and turned into the merely symbolic, especially in public institutions like schools or quasi-public spaces like Facebook.

Dec. 6th is the anniversary of the massacre at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. Fourteen young women were murdered at the hands of a maniac, simply for the audacity for being female engineering students. In a country where mass shootings really don't happen often, it was shocking and horrific and leaves a deep psychological scar on any of us who remember, vividly, hearing the news.

Dec. 6th is a day for ritual now. Any well-meaning person of any gender dons the white ribbon (even though the original point was for men to show that they were against violence against women*). Schoolchildren make handprints on banners that declare, "these hands will never be used in violence," even though that is statistically unlikely to be the case. Posters go up, most with roses on them.

On Facebook, every other post is a list of the names of the dead, now with the requisite likes and hearts and crying faces and sometimes angry faces (from the leftists).

It's not that I don't think that these are all important rituals to have, or that these 14 women are not worth remembering. They absolutely are. But I'm uncomfortable when something I feel passionate about is reduced to a cut-and-paste of names and ages so that everyone can show how they remember, how important the ritual is, and how very not-sexist they are. It becomes an exercise in form over function.

Violence against women in Canada does not, by and large, look like a lunatic carefully sorting the female students from the male students and then gunning down the former. That has happened, but that is not what usually happens. Women are more likely to face violence at the hands of a loved one than a stranger. The dead are less likely to look like photogenic young students and more likely to look like this:


Oh, you probably can't see that too well. That's the 1181 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada between 1980-2012, who rarely get spoken about on the one day that we get to talk about violence against women. Marc Lépine is dead, and beyond the reach of justice, but there still might be justice for the women pictured above. We won't know if we don't do anything about it.

It's not a day to talk about the women and girls in prison and foster care, or even victims of domestic violence. Not sex workers or trans women or non-status immigrants, who face a greater risk of violence and exploitation than the general population.  It's not a day to talk about women who have been raped by men who are deemed more trustworthy than they are, and thus are re-victimized in the press and the courts. If we took today to look at those things, we might look at violence against women as something other than a horrible event that happened once but is now safely in the past to be ritualized. We would have to see it as something ongoing, something in which all genders are complicit.

It's not a day to talk about misogyny, today, as rampant and widespread as ever, to shut down any number of MRA and Alt-Reich groups who have seized the zeigeist by the pussy. That would be politicizing things, and the National Day of Remembrance and Action is a hashtag, not, like, a political thing.

My beef is institutional, not individual. On a personal level, listing the names of the 14 victims of Dec. 6th is understandable, even laudable. On an institutional level, however, framing violence against women as a rare, dramatic act rather than a routine and persistent symptom of a patriarchal culture is not productive. I'm not going to lie and tell you I have an answer to this, or even that I know with certainty that it's a problem, per se. I guess I just want a louder, angrier, more complicated discussion. Not symbols, and not copy-and-paste. Ugly, unvarnished truth that moves towards action. For starters.

* Gender is, of course, more complicated, but a lot of us didn't know that in 1991 when Jack Layton was first promoting it.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
I found this post quite interesting. It's a video put out by Glamour (one of those magazines that tells women to be anxious about wearing the wrong foundation) about men and women's hygiene routines, and how long each take. It's pretty gender essentialist (I imagine trans woman and trans men have a vastly different experience, to point out the obvious) and an overgeneralization (after spending time in Mexico City with rationed water, I do know how to take a fast shower) but I think the point still stands—the performance of femininity robs you of time. Like, a lot of time.

What's interesting is the comments. BoingBoing skews white male, and there are dudes lining up to say that, no, my wife doesn't do that, or this is just about people being vain and doing what society expects, as if women don't face serious financial penalties for non-compliance. As if there isn't an election on where one candidate looks like a puffy orange bezoar and the other looks like a regular woman who pushed an illegal war in Iraq, and all the media emphasis is on her appearance and whether she smiles enough.

Nowhere did I see a woman pop on and say, "nope, this doesn't describe me." The women are all like, "yeah it takes longer in the bathroom because you guys can just whip it out and we have to sit, how is this rocket science?"

At a certain point, I feel like people are deliberately not getting it. Not just with gender, but with any site of oppression. You get the same with "colourblind" anti-BLM folks, who just want to pretzel-logic their way around the obvious, which is that black people are getting killed and jailed en masse. It's exhausting.
sabotabby: (furiosa)
Zoe Quinn's Tumblr post about why she dropped charges against the shitbag who's been making her life, and the lives of many women on the internet, a living hell, hit me really hard. Especially as I'm following the Ghomeshi trial, and the particularly odious Rosie DiManno columns where she calls out Ghomeshi's victims for not acting the way she'd like them to and not remembering trivial details from a traumatic event that happened years ago. I'm not linking to that.

Memory's tricky. Cops are coached about how to act on the witness stand, but I found out recently that in general, the Crown isn't allowed to coach witnesses, just the defence. The result is that women who testify against male abusers typically get torn apart, and that's part (though by no means all) of why rapists don't get convicted.

The games played on Quinn and on Ghomeshi's victims. I know these games. I have rarely posted publicly about my biological father, even in this little dead zone of the internet with my pseudonymity. But he used to play these memory games on me when we would fight about whatever. I would bring up an incident in which he'd been abusive, and he'd question me on these little irrelevant details, and thus make me doubt my own memories of the events. I think this is why I have difficulties remembering large swathes of my childhood. Reading about someone doing this to other women (was your hair up or down? What colour and model was the car?) is just beyond horrifying.

Quinn in particular hits home because she could be me. All she did was be a woman on the internet. She made stuff. It sounded like cool stuff, I dunno. It doesn't matter. She put herself out there as a creative person doing a thing, and some psycho from her past (ladies who date men, don't we all have at least one of those) rallied an army of misogynist slime to destroy her life and her family's lives.

And he's going to view this as a victory. They all will. Same if Ghomeshi gets off—doesn't matter if the criminal justice system doesn't determine innocence, just guilt, people are going to defend this guy and he's going to get to go on with his life while the victims' reputations will be tarnished forever.

I think Quinn is right to walk away from it all. The law isn't going to defend her. It was never meant to do that. You don't call the cops when you're raped, you don't expect them to understand Twitter, you can't possibly be that naïve anymore. The law exists to protect the already powerful and their property. And in the eyes of many, women are very much still the property of men.

Free speech only exists if a white guy wants to disparage those under him and escape criticism for it. Quinn's free speech doesn't get counted.

The message we're given, again and again, is to shut up. Unplug. Stay out of the public eye. If someone hurts you, acquiesce. Don't fight back. Don't take up space or make demands. Sit with our hands on our laps and hope that someone notices our purity and takes pity on us. It's not something I'm inclined to do, but then, it's not like it doesn't inform my life anyway.

My heart goes out to Quinn and to the women brave enough to testify against Ghomeshi. The system failed you. It was always meant to fail you.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
I just had a bunch of surprisingly productive discussions around feminism and harassment, spurred by the stupid verdict in the case of Gregory Alan Elliott, the latest Tropes vs. Women video, and the overall imbalance in what we mean when we talk about freedom of speech.

Both of these cases have a lot to do with how the law is unwilling (I almost typed "unable," but this isn't true—they're perfectly capable of understanding Twitter threats against cops) to take into account both gender dynamics and internet culture. Elliott was acquitted (and may go on to sue his victims) because they didn't act like perfect victims. Why, one might ask—and the judge did—would they block him and continue to respond to his tweets?

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how these things work. I know, because I've had stalkers and trolls. There is no perfect way to engage with them. Your mother might have said, "ignore the bully and he'll go away," but you knew even as a child that this wasn't true.

Internet discussion is largely public. This means that if I am telling the truth and Igor the Troll is telling a lie, our discussion is witnessed by outsiders. A typical exchange might go something like this:

Igor: Obvious falsehood nevertheless believed by those who have an interest in maintaining the status quo.
Sabs: Bunch of facts in rebuttal.
Igor: Shut up you cunt bitch ill rape your eyesocket.

(If you think I'm exaggerating, you're naïve af. This is mild by comparison to some of the things I've seen.)

Now, a logical judge, not taking gender or power into account, is going to think, "well, she can block him, why doesn't she just block him?" But Igor is not going to shut up. And to an audience—because this is the internet, and there is always an audience—if I shut up, Igor looks like the winner.

This is something that just won't make sense unless you spend a lot of time around kids, which I do. If you show kids a political debate and ask them who won, the kids will not identify the person who said the most accurate facts. They will identify the person who was the loudest and who, preferably, spouted the most insults. The primary reason, I'd argue, why Trump is popular is because most Americans haven't progressed past the developmental stage that my kids are in.

So my choosing to block and ignore may be, to me (and the judge) a sensible move of self-preservation, to Igor the Troll, and everyone watching, it looks like he won. Now, I can choose to ignore this, and I probably would, but it will be galling. It will sit under my skin. Igor the Troll will not stop talking because I've stopped talking. He may go on to talk about me, to spread rumours and lies, and he's less likely to be challenged because sensible people don't bother.

I fully understand why Guthrie and Reilly wouldn't, in this circumstance, act like perfect victims and just ignore the scum harassing them. Why should they? Why does Elliott get freedom of speech and they do not? Why is it always down to the woman to run away, to withdraw, to not go out at that time of night wearing that skirt?

Anyway, one dude messaged me and said he didn't get feminists. Did we want equality or supremacy? He compared feminism to vegans, and how there are some vegans who just are, and some vegans who reminded you that they were vegan every five minutes.

I used to draw this distinction too, before I saw what was happening to a vegan friend of mine on Tumblr. She'd post a vegan recipe and immediately get anon hate. Was it any wonder that rather than be intimidated into silence, she'd get louder in response? That got me thinking to just how often omnivores remind us that they're omnivores—bacon memes, posting jokes about vegetarians murdering carrots—but this stridency is entirely invisible, because most people are omnivores. Vegans are perceived as more obnoxious about their dietary choices not because they are (I'm firmly convinced they're not) but because it's Other, and thus marked as a political statement, while eating meat is neutral and unmarked.

Dude admitted he was afraid of women, so I unpacked that. It's the old Margaret Atwood quote: "Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them." We went back and forth for about 45 minutes, at the end of which I think he got it a bit more.

I had a similar conversation with another young man who'd posted a "political correctness has gone too far; you can't say anything without being called a racist or a sexist, FREEZED PEACH"-type rant. Now, it's probably not a secret that I don't believe in freedom of speech—as in I don't believe that it exists, period, or can exist—but I questioned him on his consistency. Did he believe, for example, that ISIS sympathizers on Twitter should have free speech? Was he vigorously defending their rights to say what they liked? Of course, he wasn't, so I walked him through his own flawed assumptions about what was violent and what was peaceful. I don't think he agreed with me by the end—I wouldn't expect him to, as he's not the sharpest chisel in the toolbox—but he remained remarkably civil throughout and thanked me.

I don't always have the time or patience to educate people about power dynamics or feminism or anti-racism, and I tend towards the hairtrigger emotional at the best of times, but I'm kinda pleased with how these various discussions went. I mean, it stresses me out that we still gotta fight these stupid battles, but what else can you do?
sabotabby: (furiosa)
Well, that honeymoon was short-lived. Dustin Waterhole's government has already met my expectations. Canada has caved to the terrorists, of both the ISIS and racist white variety, and will only be admitting women, children, and families as refugees.

You will hear me once, non-ironically, say: What about the men?

Seriously, I think I've found the one thing that feminists and MRAs can both get behind, which is to say that this is stupid. It's wrong. It's fractal wrong.


Here are the reasons why it's stupid:

1) What about gay men? Or trans people? Asexual men, even. Most of whom would presumably need to be closeted. There is a special last-minute exemption, but that sounds like the kind of thing that is very dangerous for LGBTQ++ people in practice. (And then it becomes useless anyway, as gay men, trans people, and asexuals can all be terrorists as easily as heteros.)

2) Did your wife and family get murdered by ISIS? Too bad, you can't come to Canada. Serves you right for not becoming the Punisher.

3) This is security theatre. Like all security theatre, it is harmful (in this case, to young men), and it is useless (as women can be terrorists too).

4) Assuming that the goal is security, which it isn't (spoiler: the goal is optics, because the Liberals crave popularity and post-Paris, 51% of the population now opposes bringing in the refugees), leaving a shitload of unattached young men, the prime demographic for terrorist recruitment, in refugee camps or at risk of being sent back to a warzone, seems strategically asinine.

Ultimately, this is a condemnation of Dustin's pledge to govern "from the heart outwards." You know why rationality is useful in politics? Because any sensible person would have immediately found four obvious flaws in the plan. It's also an indictment of Dustin's particularly condescending brand of Feminism Lite (anyone remember Justin Unplugged? Just me? Okay then!), which pays lipservice to gender equality while failing to address structural inequities.

On the plus side, fucking everyone is making fun of Dustin's global fedora-tipping, so I bet you they'll back down on this before the end of the week.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
I'm not going to write a lengthy post about Jian Ghomeshi because a) other people have said it better, b) I'm about to head out and won't be around much this weekend, and c) I actually find it really difficult to read any details about this case and I'm finding it hits too close to home.

I am appalled that less than 100% of the people I know are supportive of the brave women who have come forward. I am appalled that I'm still seeing arguments suggesting that he was fired because he was kinky, or that he is innocent until proven guilty, or  that he should not be tried "in the court of public opinion," when the court of public opinion, i.e., social media, is the only justice any of these women, or any survivor of rape or domestic abuse, will ever know.

But the worst, the worst of all, is the people who are asking why the women didn't go to the police. I can't really deal, not at all, so I'm just going to leave this article, by a former Crown prosecutor, about why women don't go to the police.

Trigger warnings, obviously.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
So if you've been out of school for awhile (or maybe it doesn't happen in other countries like it does in North America), you may not know that dress codes are a big thing. As soon as the weather turns, the harassment starts. Girls (and while the odd boy gets coded over a pot leaf graphic or baggy pants, it's girls 90% of the time) get sent up to the office, get phone calls home, get sent home in some cases, over what they're wearing. Teachers are ordered to scrutinize every item covering each teenage body to determine if skirts and tops are long enough, if necklines are too low, if bra straps are too prominent. For teachers like me, who have zero interest in looking at teenage bodies and were raised to be polite and look at people's faces and not their asses, it's a situation that can range from awkward to my feminist principles are in conflict with my job.

By the way, the heteronormative, cisnormative, misogynist, victim-blaming thing where administrators tell young girls that their clothing is distracting the boys happens in pretty much every school as far as I know. I don't know if they teach that in principal school or what, but it's not an aberration. You'd think, because we are supposed to teach responsibility, the emphasis would be on the boys (or, hey, maybe girls are attracted to other girls, or not everyone identifies as one or the other, and by the way to teenagers everything is distracting and it doesn't actually matter what you wear) to keep their eyes in their own heads, but it's always the slut-shaming. Always.

(If you're wondering, I don't enforce a dress code. I do tell the boys to take off their hats, because it is an obviously visible thing if an admin walks in, and also because baseball caps are fugly. And if I can see a kid's entire ass, I will tell him to pull up his pants. But I do not feel comfortable telling a girl that her bra strap shouldn't show, because I feel like my bra strap shows a lot of the time and it's no biggie.)

There have been a bunch of good articles lately about dress codes in schools, but this is my favourite thus far:

It really bothers me how schools insist that girls wear bras (this starts at, like, age 8-14 when girls start budding. Many girls and/or their moms have embarrassing stories of female teachers quietly pulling them aside, and delicately suggesting that she get a training bra), but then simultaneously decree that bra straps are inappropriate. This is like insisting all boys must wear socks, but the tops of socks sticking out of the shoes are inappropriate.  It’s just… so arbitrary.

It’s yet another reminder, and reinforcement, that a girl’s appearance is more important, and demands more attention, than her other, non-visible qualities. You know, qualities like intelligence, perseverance, athletic ability, tenacity, creativity, a hard work ethic… attention to those attributes seem fade away rather quickly once an inch of skin is exposed.

Instead, it teaches her to view herself in a sexualized gaze, from an outsider’s point of view. At an increasingly young age, getting dressed in the morning turns from “does teal clash with yellow?” to “is this too much shoulder? Can someone see down this shirt? Would someone be able to look up this skirt on the stairs? What happens when I sit or bend over? I should test that.”

Anyway, the whole thing is worth a read, as is the link to Impression, which is an excellent photo essay about the impressions that clothes leave on women's bodies. I'm sort of tired of the argument where I work. Weirdly, Colleague Who Shall Not Be Named, not known for his progressive views in general, actually said some of the things I was thinking at the last staff meeting, which is that the adult obsession with teenage bodies is fucking creepy.

This is our culture, though. This is how we're raising young people to think—that girls are objects to be viewed, scrutinized, judged, that boys are the ones doing the watching, and if one doesn't see the connection to more violent forms of misogyny, one isn't paying enough attention.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
I haven't read any of the articles. Don't really care to. Bad things happening to children is something that I find difficult to read about and so I don't do so recreationally.

But. Whenever a woman publicly accuses a man of raping or molesting her, she is held up for public excoriation. She's accused of lying and worse. Her sexual history is interrogated, her name is dragged through the mud. It's bad enough in the case of a regular man; in the case of someone famous and well-loved, it is exponentially worse.

I don't believe in most cases the trade-off is worth it to lie. I mean, you'd have to be deeply fucked up to put yourself through that.
sabotabby: (books!)
Got a good kick out of this opinion piece, which argues that the problem with YA lit these days is that the boys are just too perfect. There is much handwringing about where this leaves poor actual adolescent boys with their bad teeth and acne and how they will have poor self-esteem because they can never measure up to dreamy Edward.


Best quote:
I can't help but wonder how I would take it if things were reversed - if male protagonists were always shown to fall for beautiful, fun, witty, confident, wealthy, kind girl-gamers, and men began expecting the same in real life. Surely, we'd crush their unrealistic expectations immediately.

You mean like every single piece of media out there?

This counterpoint is closer to reality (actually, there are a lot of less-than-physically perfect boys in YA literature) but fails to really skewer what is wrong with the first article.

First of all, the original article is talking about a problem that literally does not exist. I know a lot of teenage boys. I imagine that I know many more teenage boys (and girls) than Woodrow-Hill does, though maybe her regular job is as a high school teacher too. Not one of them has ever expressed self-esteem issues around a failure to measure up to fictional characters who serve as fantasy objects for teenage girls. Muscle-bound athletes, maybe. Sparkly vampires? Of all the boys I've taught, a grand total of two have ever copped to reading Twilight (I poll them every year; it's curriculum-related) and barely any will cop to reading anything, let alone YA books that are aimed at a primarily female audience.

Second, I know a lot of teenage girls too. You may be surprised to know this but they are, by and large, not stupid. Especially the ones who read. They can differentiate between fantasy and reality. Also, if they hold dudes to a slightly higher standard as the result of fiction (which is nothing new; a childhood infatuation with the Fourth Doctor left me with impossible standards. Also strange standards) and don't just get with the first mouth breather who snaps their bra strap because they think no one will ever love them—um, that's a good thing, right? We don't want teenage girls to date just anyone because they're afraid of being alone.

Other problems:

1) Let's talk about how fiction aimed at women is disproportionately demonized in the public discourse for its fetishization of male characters. The reverse is not true. Countless books, movies, and telly aimed at a male audience objectify women and place them on a pedestal, and few are mocked for it the way, say, Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey are mocked for it. Yes, those books are execrable for a variety of reasons. But compare to, say, the Transformers movies, which are also terrible. The latter are rightly criticized but don't attract the sort of tittering that the former two do. Plenty of creepy middle-aged men watched those movies and drooled over scantily-clad Megan Fox, but we don't see concern trolling articles about them the way we did about TwiMoms or housewives who buy e-readers so that they can secretly read shitty BDSM porn.

I honestly don't see the appeal in 90% of fictional perfect-type dudes (I mean, I get fetishizing fictional characters in general, but the ones described as flawless are typically boring to read about and/or watch), but let the ladies have our wank fantasies, okay?

2) I can name far more fictional examples of pudgy, old, and/or balding dudes getting with gorgeous ladies than I can name examples of pudgy, old, or less-than-perfectly symmetrical ladies getting with smoking hot dudes. It may be that I don't read romance fiction or much YA, and largely read fiction that's aimed at a male audience, but I still think I'm right. Extend that to TV and movies and you barely see women who aren't conventionally attractive at all.

3) If we are going to talk about how dudes with acne are underrepresented in YA literature, can we maybe talk about the underrepresentation of everyone who isn't a straight, white, middle-class, cisgendered person in YA literature? Because that is a much bigger problem.

4) Even when female characters are "flawed," it's usually not in a way that is recognizable to actual women. Bella isn't plain and overweight; she's too thin (but not athletic), too pale, and adorably clumsy. There aren't many YA female protagonists with love handles and acne.

5) God, not everything is about boys and their self-esteem. Boys have enough self-esteem. Too much, sometimes.

6) Edward is really not that dreamy. Most teenage girls I know are Team Jacob. (Or were; they're on to something new now.)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (gother than fuck)
[ profile] jvmatucha asked a tough one:

In regards to Assimilate, the book you've read and that I'm very much enjoying, can you give me examples of your criticism of Reed's work and of industrial culture in regards to unadmitted mainstream western influences, gender, and ethnicity?

(I'm already working on my own rant! One theme: Industrial, the whitest music on the planet!)

Or just give me a rant about sexism in counter culture music!

So, first up, if I hadn't also read a book about Communist mysticism in Central Europe, S. Alexander Reed's Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music would rate as the best non-fiction book I've read this year, and, indeed, in quite awhile. It's fantastic and I highly recommend it.

Secondly, no post about sexism and racism in industrial music would be complete without a link to Ad•ver•sary's We Demand Better, which is both a great introduction to and critique of some of the issues we're dealing with here. He's also interviewed in the book, by the way.

Thirdly, a disclaimer of my own: I'm white, I'm female, and I haven't personally encountered any more overt sexism or racism within the industrial music community than I have in any other circle I travel in, and possibly a bit less, though that's largely a factor of preferring music identified with radical left politics. (Though not exclusively. I like a lot of really problematic, vaguely right-wing music as well. But there are some bands where I wouldn't go to their shows because they/their audience scare me.) I have encountered individual people who have shitty gender/race/class analyses and are also into industrial, but correlation isn't causation, etc.

Much rambling. You've been warned. )

So that's it for Blogcember, unless anyone would like to suggest more topics.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy) getting super drunk and sexually assaulting a woman!

ford watch 0 days photo fordwatch0_zps2241dfef.jpg

Publisher and former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson says:

Thought it was a friendly hello to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the CJPAC Action Party tonight until he suggested I should have been in Florida with him last week because his wife wasn't there. Seriously wanted to punch him in the face. Happy International Women's Day!

ford pervs on sarah thomson photo 529805_10151581958414673_1452298706_n_zps62df3ff4.jpg
Where's his hand? No one wants to know.

He also grabbed her ass. She's demanding an apology and contemplating filing sexual assault charges against him.

So if this happened last night, why is the FordWatch count 0? Because he compounded his already poor decision making by releasing a statement. You should go read the whole thing because it's hilarious/terrifying, but here is my favourite bit (emphasis mine):

What is more surprising is that a woman who has aspired to be a civic leader would cry wolf on a day where we should be celebrating women across the globe.

Fuck this guy. Fuck this guy on behalf of every survivor of rape or sexual assault who's ever had their story questioned or disbelieved, their past interrogated, their actions dissected, or the blame shifted from the rapist to them. Fuck him so much.

His full title is now the Honourable Wife-Beating, Drunk-Driving, Bird-Flipping, Ass-Grabbing Mayor of the Increasingly Embarrassed City of Toronto.

In other news, the kids he coaches instead of doing mayoral stuff apparently don't like being called thugs and gangbangers by him or treated as political pawns. Who'd have guessed?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (go fuck yourself)
Asshole of the Week: Elsa La Rosa. La Rosa is the shitspittle who complained about strollers on the TTC, a complaint they apparently took seriously enough that all local media is yammering today about whether strollers should be banned or limited on transit or parents charged extra for bringing them on.

I suppose this fine upstanding citizen is incapable of picturing the pitiful sight of a mother and her young children, waiting for an hour in the windswept, -20°C wastelands of Scarborough for the next bus to arrive because, well, there were already two strollers aboard the last one so tough luck, lady. La Rosa might be incapable of empathy, but I'm not. I don't care much for SUV strollers either, but the only thing more irritating than having a stroller appear on public transit is being the unfortunate sod in the position to have to bring a stroller on public transit. Generally speaking, if you're hauling one of those fuckers on a bus, you have zero other options.

There is, of course, a strong element of sexism at work—it is still primarily women who are responsible for childcare, and thus it's women that La Rosa would apparently like to see restricted from the public spaces that they pay taxes to maintain. There's an even stronger element of classism. Rich moms don't take the TTC. Any fee or restriction would disproportionately affect working class and impoverished parents and children.

Also, La Rosa is just a selfish douche. She also wants to lower the age for a senior’s Metropass, presumably because she's 61 and you need to be 65 to get the discount.

Lest you think that the Asshole of the Week designation is awarded lightly, our winner was up against some very strong competition. But La Rosa wins it on sheer pettiness.

I should also mention that it's only Tuesday.

(Oh, and that the solution is actually wider buses and streetcars, and more vehicles in service at any given time. But there isn't the political will.)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
I have dinner at this Chinese kiosk in a shopping plaza so frequently that they know to get the hot sauce and chopsticks when they see me coming. It happens to be right near my doctor's office, and for mall food it's really good (they make a mean homestyle tofu), plus the place has a big screen TV that always plays the news, so it's where I unwind and hang out for a bit before my appointment. It's usually pretty busy there, with a mix of shoppers, commuters, and dudes from a nearby homeless shelter, and eating my takeout while raging at the news has become part of my weekly routine. Occasionally, some of the more inebriated homeless dudes will cause a ruckus, but I've never felt it was in any way a less than totally safe space.

Until tonight.

Exciting stories of teh patriarchy )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)

Lots of stupid to go around today. First, the Honourable Wife-Beater's response to conflict-of-interest allegations? "I didn't know and I don't remember." Our mayor, ladies and gentlemen.

Then we've got a quote to sum up his (hopefully brief) career as mayor. When asked if he'd run again even if found guilty in the lawsuit, he responded with yes, and "I’m doing what I’ve always done. I return people’s phone calls."

It's like he's a Left Behind protagonist. It's always about the phone calls. You don't need a vision for the city or the ability to compromise and work well with others, or even basic human decency. Being a good politician is all about being on the phone as much as possible. (Even when you're driving.)

But the Grand Prize for stupidity today actually goes to his niece, Tool of the Patriarchy Krista Ford. In response to a string of sexual assaults in the city, the little dipshit offers this sage advice:

"Stay alert, walk tall, carry mace, take self-defence classes & don’t dress like a whore."

Here is a picture of Krista Ford, dressed like not a whore:

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (pretty princess party)
So there have been not one, but two Nice Guy posts on The Face. This is rare for me, because my Face list is pretty small. I don't have a lot of relatives and old friends from high school—you know, the people who normally post right-wing shit and racist forwards—so I get in comparatively few flamewars. Generally speaking, my feed is 40% far-left politics, 20% nerd shit, 10% cute animal pictures, 10% reposts from George Takei (I guess that's nerd shit, but it requires a whole other category owing to its frequency), and 20% pictures of people's kids. (I'm at that age where friends are sprogging, so right now it's like a nursery on there. Don't worry, I'm still not going to reproduce.)

Accordingly, it's surprising to see something irritating enough that I need to say something that I know is going to offend the person who said it, but I'm compelled to do so anyway because they were being Wrong on the Internet. And should know better. Lately, that something has been the revival of Nice Guy Talk.

a tired rant, but apparently it needs to be hauled out again )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)
Via [ profile] fengi: New Tomb Raider prequel gives us Lara Croft's backstory, and surprise! It's rape!

Because there was clearly a shortage of Strong Female CharactersTM whose backstory involves rape.

I've never played Tomb Raider, but I do appreciate the character a bit. Yes, she's fanservice, but she's also fun. She gets to run around and do stuff, and, sad to say, there are still very few female characters in mass culture who get to run around and do stuff in a traditionally male dominated field simply because it's fun. I don't even see why she needs a backstory, any more than the backstory we get for Indiana Jones (difficult relationship with father, snake trauma, moving on to the adventures now). Lara Croft is basically Indiana Jones with boobs, and that's just fine, really.

But enough with that. On to the justifications!

Rosenberg brings up Die Hard, another movie where we begin a relationship with a human, vulnerable character and through an intense experience he emerges as a hero. It was important to show her as an innocent, vulnerable character at the beginning of the game. “People really identify with that,” Rosenberg said.

Right. I forgot the bit where John McClane gets raped, despite having seen Die Hard more times than I can count. Maybe because John McClane doesn't need a rapey backstory to be seen as a hero or for the audience to identify with him.

“I would say that the outcome is closer to something like Batman Begins or Casino Royale, where the character at the end is certainly Batman or James Bond, but not necessarily the one from before,” he said.

You know what else I missed? The part where Bruce Wayne gets raped. James Bond got some electrodes to the balls if I remember correctly, but I don't think he got raped either. And somehow they both managed to become kickass without a rapey backstory. In fact, I can't think of a single male pop culture character whose backstory involves rape. But pick a Strong Female CharacterTM, any Strong Female CharacterTM, and someone's gotten rapey with her somewhere. Because obviously no woman can be Strong without trauma in her background, and there is no trauma but rape.

I didn't read the comments but I bet they're full of neckbeards defending this, er, creative decision. Am I right?

ETA: A couple of you raised a good point, which is that most women experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes, and why should SFC be exceptions? My objection to this line of reasoning:

1) My problem is not with saying that rape happens (otherwise I wouldn't be hugely obsessed with Game of Thrones right now), it's with rape as a motivating factor. I spent a miserably large percentage of my early adolescence being groped by horny boys on the playground. This did not make me into a superhero. It made me self-conscious about my developing body.

2) As a motivation, rape is incredibly cliché. Want to create a heroine? Can't she be motivated by, I don't know, concern for poor people being forced out of their homes because of gentrification? Or maybe she's a fangirl who wants desperately to be a superhero, so she deliberately alters her body until she has incredible abilities (okay, this idea was already used in The Authority, but I still think it's fantastic). Or, like, anything other than rape. Male heroes have all kinds of motivations, from the death of their parents by violent crime, to getting bitten by a radioactive spider, to girlfriends getting fridged, to loyalty to queen and country, to coming from a family in the hero business, to rationally thinking about it and deciding that it would be a good idea. Why can female heroes be only motivated by one thing?

3) If we're going for realism, why is it always violent stranger-rape? Most rape victims know their attacker. It's usually a family member, friend, or lover. If you want a rape story because it's realistic, maybe make the rape a bit more like what most women experience.

4) But I don't want realism because this is a videogame. Videogames are for escapism and wish fulfillment. Just like I don't want to see a movie where John McClane gets shot in the face by Hans Gruber in the first 10 minutes because that's what would happen in real life, I don't want to see the character I'm pretending to be get raped.

5) So if videogames are about wish fulfillment, then why include rape? I can only conclude that those playing aren't identifying with Lara Croft; they're identifying with her attackers and getting off on it. And that's frightening and disgusting.


Apr. 9th, 2012 05:26 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fuck patriarchy)

How is this a thing that happened in the world?

Apparently women are more concerned with making babies than making money and therefore it's just fine that gendered pay discrimination exists.

Oh Wisconsin. I know it's hard to compete with Arizona and Texas for Worst State Ever, but do you have to be so blatant about it?


Mar. 23rd, 2012 05:12 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (teh interwebs)
My LJ has been rather repetitive lately, all B5 and spinal tumours, so I thought I'd share some interesting, inspiring, and horrifying articles and posts that have caught my eye but that I've been too preoccupied to blog about.

Most of you have probably already read The White Saviour Industrial Complex, one of the many excellent critiques out there of Kony 2012.

In addition to the library workers out on strike (and inside city workers likely joining them soon), Air Canada workers staged a wildcat strike. For obvious reasons I can't join the solidarity actions, but if you can, you should. Also, this is one industry that I feel even the most right-wing, anti-union bigot ought to agree needs to be paid well. I mean, do you want the guy who helps land your plan to be overworked and underpaid?

The largest political protest in Canadian history happened yesterday, with 200,000 students, teachers, parents, union activists, and others striking against proposed tuition hikes. (That article's in French; the English-language press has been stupid about the whole thing. Here's an English article from the CBC, but it downplays the numbers and significance.

Via [ profile] symbioid, a heartbreaking article about the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Via [ profile] hano, Robert Bales is not the victim. (Robert Bales being the murderous scum who slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians, including children.)

Via [ profile] marlowe1: Hey, frum parents! Get your daughter a facelift or she'll never find a husband. I posted some pretty shocking links above but there's something about this one that is just a special kind of wrong.

Watch Bruce Schneier trounce the former head of the TSA in a debate about security.

signal-boosting a petition against forcing American ISPs to police downloads )

ETA: Because the above is pretty grim, watch this video about a blind stray dog living in a trash dump until she's rescued by nice people. It will make you cry but it has a happy ending, I promise.


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