Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ask not what feminism can do for you, but rather what you can do for feminism

I guess my "Five Things Feminism Has Done For Me" post didn't fit the bill for a couple "progressive" bloggers who wanted to see differently.

I'm of the opinion that Stephen Harper is a generally moderate person: I'm gay, and he doesn't want me in jail, he doesn't run around telling people I'm going to Hell (which, let's face it, I am), and he's never tried to beat any of my brothers and sisters up - he's fine with civil unions, and people, if I can grow up being spat on at high school and end up in a civil union before 30, then we're living in a great country. I know, I know, it's more fun to hate the Leader of a party you didn't sign yourself to, but them's just the breaks. Stephen Harper does not hate women (if you ask me, he's one day going to call Rona Ambrose to congratulate her on becoming Canada's first elected female Prime Minister).

I was asked about feminism, not "women's rights", and I hold that core feminists have devalued motherhood and scorned and shamed stay-at-home moms rather than demanding motherhood itself be recognized as a priority profession for/in our society.

Status of Women isn't going to be abolished or hacked up - it never was in danger (although Nellie McClung accomplished more, without government funding, than it has). Stephen Harper is too wiley to give the Liberal Party a blank cheque to write "See, we told you so" on.

But I'm curious - what have these "progressives" done for feminism? I'm asking Cameron, and also Joanne, and just to add on to them, strictly out of idle curiosity to see what they say, I'm also going to ask Zac-a-roni (I just made that up - it's cute, no?) since he tagged Joanne, and will probably have something interesting to say (Zac was not unhappy with what I wrote, and probably never even saw it), Jeff Jedras since he tagged Zac, and Ted, since Jeff says he began the whole thing (both of whom also never even saw what I wrote).

I'll go first. Yes, me - the "closet Tory". It's gauche to pat yourself on the back, but it's a gauche kind of man's man writing this up for you. I'm a low income bracket type of a lad (mind you, I have no kids so far, either) but last year I gave, through Mercy Corps, at the urging of Nicolas Kristof, $500 to Mukhtaran Mai, towards the schools and hospitals she's dreaming of in Pakistan, to help raise the living standards and equality of women in that country. Tag, you're it: What's been your contribution to the cause you champion?

I'm dying to be put in my place again by Cameron.

She's got no dead people behind her, granted - but still.

Let me get this straight...

So far, not only is Martha Hall Findlay not running second to the frontrunner four, but - she's losing to ALL candidates. Dryden, Brison, even Volpe, and even Undeclared, are all beating her.

Okay, so she's never held a federal office and has some murky policy thoughts - I'm not saying she should win, I'm just saying that she's losing to Brison and Volpe and Undeclared.

In other related news, Rona Ambrose could be the first elected female PM, I'm starting to think. So far, she's a politician I can like. Maybe even a lot.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

On the other hand, five GREAT things:

1. Catwoman - meow.
2. Emma Peel - multi-colour mod or all-leather, she rocks.
3. She-Hulk - it's easy being green when you can lift a car.
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - the movie, not the TV show.
5. Dr. Beverly Crusher. Brannon Braga's distaste for her is what ruined the movies. She fucking rocked the Enterprise.
(I wouldn't say Wonder Woman - anyone whose Kryptonite is being tied up by a man is not a feminist.)

Five Things Feminism Has Done For Me, or, Gee Thanks, Joe

Tag, I'm it - I have to write up Five Things Feminism Has Done For Me after being tagged by blogger extraordinaire Joe Calgary.

First off, I have to echo Joe in saying that the Harper government is *not* anti-woman, and it makes the Left look silly anytime someone claims that it is. It's like when gays suggest Harper has declared "war on gays" - it's just dumb.

That said, here goes, with five things feminism has done for me.

1. Failed me completely: The idea that women should not be evaluated based on looks is a failure - in fact, things have gotten far, far worse than when feminism became a popular American (ie. Western) idea: a) women are sexualized much earlier in life, and b) boys have the same self-image problems today that girls do (though many feminists would never admit such). Young men are now just as insecure and unhappy with themselves as young women. Too bad.
2. Devalued motherhood: I can think of few careers I'd like more than being a mother - I'm a very maternal person and I like to raise kids. What the hell is wrong with being a mom? Feminists regard it with scorn - rather than demanding that motherhood be recognized as a priority career to society, they have made stay-at-home moms feel empty and unfulfilled, when in fact I can't think of a better way to be fulfilled. A major, catastrophic miscalculation on their part, with poor consequences for women (See 3)
3. Made me sympathetically unhappy for my mom: See 2. Feminism was preached to America (ie. the West) by feminists who had no children and had no sentiment or value for or understanding of women who did, and treated those women with children with condescending pity - they were "missing out on life". We all have goals in life that usually co-incide with our talents - my dad never wanted to be anything other than a farmer, and my mom never wanted anything but to have a family. Feminism made sure she would feel she should have worked herself to death raising kids AND having a "real" career.
4. Disappointed me with its hypocrisy: Far, far, far too few "feminists" are willing to speak out against medieval-era anti-women attitudes found in some certain immigrants from non-Western cultures. It's wrong to say "Miss" or "Missus" if you're Anglospheric, but refusal to take orders from a woman gets a pass if you're from, say, Sri Lanka (which is not to suggest all Sri Lankans are anti-women). (Note: Happily, some feminists *are* happy to take on this idiocy)
5. Made me excited: My good friend and neighbour Judith is 9 years old and we hang out at least once a week. She turns over new ideas for her future all the time, more than I ever did when I was 9, and I'm really excited for what lies in store for her in the future.

I *am* a feminist, and won't take up the space/time to go into a long litany of why/how. But 1960s-onward feminism has been promoted by bourgoise intellectuals out of touch with real, ordinary women's lives.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I caught a fleeting whisper on a news show the other day that there are Democrats who hope like hell to lose the big election just around the corner, which made no sense to a non-thinker like me, until I found this concise and quick article in Slate on that very topic.

"Still, there are reasons why the Democrats might be better off denying Republicans the defeat they crave in November. For the Democrats to win the House this year would offer the unappealing prospect of responsibility without power. With a slim majority in the next Congress, Democrats wouldn't be able to accomplish anything significant. The party would still lack the votes to pass health-care reform or to repeal the Bush tax cuts. But with control of even one chamber by one vote, the failure to act on such issues would now be their fault as well. Iraq and the fiscal mess would no longer be just Bush's problems. The Democratic Party will have a much clearer story line heading into the 2008 election if it is simply the party out of power and can call for a complete change."

I guess I think that while I feel Bush is a well-meaning but not very wise or prudent leader, and can understand, I suppose, the inclination to leave his problems in his lap, you're in politics to serve the people, not your party, and all parties should try like hell to win on E-Day. (Including Jack "We know we can't form government, but give us a voice" Layton)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Al Gore: Payroll taxes for pollutant taxes

Al Gore calls for a revenue-neutral tax swap, proposing a dismantling of all payroll taxes in the US in lieu of pollutant taxes, which I think is an idea well worth serious discussion and evaluation.

He also calls for a CO2 freeze, with reductions starting afterwards, which I don't imagine would go over too well...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dirty Pool Loses

Marilyn Churley's attacks on Bob Hunter were sick and desperate, and they were an abuse of the public trust - the attack was evil, and the voters should have turned on her for being such an ass.

The posse of privileged party operatives trying to run-down Cheri DiNovo were just as sick and motivated by malicious ambition. Wrong is wrong, and these guys were all wrong. Parkdale-High Park was a bit too smart for their kiddie games.

My personal volunteer time for Cheri DiNovo is dedicated to environmentalist Bob Hunter - who in a better world would have beat Churley's sick ass.

I normally work for the Election, this was a big change for me. Random things:

- there is an unusually high ratio of transsexuals in Parkdale, and I met a lot more of them today.
- the Liberal scrutineer at my poll and I got along really famously, we had a fantastic time together.
- our supervising DRO said there were very few Arabic voters because they were "planning the next terrorist attack"
- again, why even HAVE a by-election? Why not just keep Kennedy as a non-Minister MPP?
- I refused to clap for Hampton or Nash at the victory party, and left before DiNovo arrived. Would've cheered for her, though.
- everyone thought I was lying about my middle name, and I had no ID.
- not one of the Liberal staffers (8) I hung out with had ever heard of even the BIGGEST Liberal bloggers.
- one ballot was spoiled to say, "I would have voted Liberal but not after your shitty campaign".
- again, why Watson, when there are so many terrific alternatives for the Liberals?
- Gerard Kennedy, we miss you, big guy. Maybe you're next for Premier, who knows.
- what is "the Freedom Party"? People kept asking me - I don't know. :(
- you can take it from me on the scene - the negative campaign played a factor. Watson could have carried it, I believe.

Well, back to real life.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hear, hear!

By now you've likely heard the not-news-anymore that an aural repellant pitched so that "young people can hear it and old people cannot" is now being marketed as a cellular ringtone (teachers can't hear it). Can you hear it?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bush is bad, but...

After a brief cry this morning washing the dishes, I've turned off CBC 1 for the day. This September 11th is the most unhappy for since the first in 2001; my guess is that it's hard to realize it's been five years, and that, to me, so much is undone and so little is accomplished.

When Bush made his truly excellent speech to the House of Representatives, I thought: "That's right, fuckers. We'll get you, and we'll get you good."

Years later, the failure to catch Osama Bin Laden can still, on some days, drive me near to tears with frustration.

Osama Bin Laden is an evildoer - I'll agree with Bush on that much anyday. If he'd killed 10 000 people that day, or 20 000, it would matter to him not. And he was rich: If he wanted to wield a mighty weapon against the US government's foreign policy, he could have blown up the CIA, or the State Department. He had more than enough resources.

With the money and organization that Bin Laden had behind him, he could have been a bigger influence than King or Ghandi. He could have led a million man/woman/child march on the White House in protest. He could have taken assault rifles and hijacked the United Nations, and forced the General Assembly to listen to his pleas, and then ordered his men to lower their weapons and be arrested peacefully. The world would have said, "Wow, who is this guy who speaks with such conviction and eloquence and passion about freedom and liberty?"

But he didn't. He chose to kill innocent people and attack civilian property in a city that is NOT a seat of government.

If he had a valid point to make, he would have made it. His point isn't US foreign policy, it's killing Westerners.

Let's be clear here: Bush is bad, but Bin Laden is evil. And I think there's a (small) number of people who fail to realize that.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Cheri DiNovo vs. Sylvia Watson

I dislike the current federal and Ontario NDP and would rather Cheri DiNovo was running as an independent, sure. But she's got my support and my volunteer time in her campaign against Sylvia Watson to represent High Park-Parkdale.

I don't feel that DiNovo's comments to a) youth about her past exploits as a drug smuggler or b) her belief that Christianity asks her to accept and love all, even repentant pedophiles and axe murderers, make her unfit to be our MPP (I believe in separation of Church and State and wish for all politicians to leave their personal faith at the door of the legislature).

Parkdale is a troubled neighbourhood. I'm guessing here, but I imagine that DiNovo critics Jason Cherniak, James Bowie and Nathan Hewitson don't know what it is like to have prostitutes sitting on your front steps and Johns parking right out your window, or what it is like to lay awake at 4 am because the notorious and infamous Kevin Clarke is yelling campaign slogans outside your bedroom. Parkdale is a neighbourhood filled with sex workers and drug addicts and mentally ill persons and poverty, and with occasional police who turn a *general* (not total) blind eye to all sorts of ill-doings. Parkdale needs someone who is willing to work with the lower classes - that person is DiNovo, not Watson.

It's a very tight race - no ane can predict who will win. There's a lot of pro-Liberal support, there's lots of pro-DiNovo support. There's a lot of anti-Watson sentiment. I have no predictions as to what that means.

Watson has failed to represent our interests in City Hall in my opinion, and I feel very strongly that DiNovo has done more for the neighbourhood, the ward, and the riding than Watson could do in 100 years. DiNovo understands the residents of Parkdale, troubled and untroubled, better than Watson, and gets Parkdale more than Watson.

Watson has sold us out on the waterfront and been exceedingly arrogant in her outright refusal to discuss the matter with constituents. There has to be better candidates for the Liberals to run - I can't grasp why they went with her.

I believe that as an unelected citizen, DiNovo has done more for Parkdale than Watson has in elected office.

I'm explaining why I'm voting (and volunteering) the way I am -- I'm not suggesting anyone vote the way I do.

DiNovo gets Parkdale, and she gets my vote.

***UPDATE: Anyone interested should check out this terrific run-down by Mr. James Bow, who is more eloquent in DiNovo's defence than I am able to be.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crocodile Tears

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." - Kahlil Gibran

Most of us are afraid of touching garter snakes and cockroaches, and I'm every single day amazed at how many people are unable to tell whether a strange dog is friendly or not. We don't remember how to tell the weather without a meteorologist telling it to us - reading the wind and clouds and colour of the sky is mostly a lost art. Lost in the barrens, few of us know any longer how to find our way by the stars. I know people who are afraid to touch cats, and people who won't sit on the grass lest a bug walk on them.

I'm an environmentally-minded voter, and I'm embarrassed most of the time by my own lack of understanding of the great big world around us. I don't have tv so I never got Steve Irwin's show, but I did catch it three times, and always loved it, and him. His exuberant love - his passion - for our planet always touched me, and even, deep inside, reminded me of my embarrassing lack of knowledge about something I care about. I loved that guy - I loved how well he knew his own reflexes, and how well he knew the animals around him.

Here's a short, 40 second clip of the Crocodile Hunter weeping over the death of a crocodile. This was a man who loved his planet and all the living things in it. He was a giant in his way, and I'm truly sorry to see him go.

Monday, September 04, 2006

What if they threw a war, and then they just went home?

My dislike of the Republicans is outweighed only by my contempt for the Democrats*, and this new letter from Pelosi and Reid to Bush calling for the pull-out of Iraq sums it all up well.


September 4, 2006

Dear Mr. President:

Over one month ago, we wrote to you about the war in Iraq. ... (W)e called upon you to change course and adopt a new strategy to give our troops and the Iraqi people the best chance for success.


In the five-week period since writing to you, over 60 U.S. soldiers and Marines have been killed, hundreds of U.S. troops have been wounded, many of them grievously, nearly 1,000 Iraqi civilians have died, and the cost to the American taxpayer has grown by another $8 billion dollars.


With daily attacks against American and Iraqi troops at close to their highest levels since the start of the war, and sectarian violence intensifying, we can only conclude that our troops are caught in the middle of a low-grade civil war that is getting worse.


We propose a new direction, which would include: (1) transitioning the U.S. mission in Iraq to counter-terrorism, training, logistics and force protection; (2) beginning the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq before the end of this year; (3) working with Iraqi leaders to disarm the militias and to develop a broad-based and sustainable political settlement, including amending the Constitution to achieve a fair sharing of power and resources; and (4) convening an international conference and contact group to support a political settlement in Iraq, to preserve Iraq's sovereignty, and to revitalize the stalled economic reconstruction and rebuilding effort. These proposals were outlined in our July 30th letter and are consistent with the "U.S. Policy in Iraq Act" you signed into law last year.


We also think there is one additional measure you can take immediately to demonstrate that you recognize the problems your policies have created in Iraq and elsewhere –consider changing the civilian leadership at the Defense Department... It is unacceptable to dismiss the concerns of military personnel and their families when they are affected by the consequences of these failures, as the Secretary of Defense recently did in Alaska by suggesting that volunteers should not complain about having their deployments extended. While a change in your Iraq policy will best advance our chances for success, we do not believe the current civilian leadership at the Department of Defense is suited to implement and oversee such a change in policy.


Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Harry Reid, Senate Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (full signature in above link).

Once determined to repeat Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule hourly, the Democrats now have decided that the US broke Iraq but can just duck out the back door without owning it.

I was against the Iraq War as much as anyone else out there was, but once you're in, you have to stay in. Rumsfeld's handling of the war has led perilously close to failure, and that means that an effective and intelligent alternative would draw up new and better plans - plans to win, and succeed, not advocate dropping out altogether.

"Re-deployment" resulting in full-out, no-question civil war in Iraq would ruin the US's image for years, and the memory would linger for decades.

I don't envy the US's position in Iraq - it's an awful, awful situation to be in. But re-deploying is not the answer. A new strategy to win and to prove success is. Part of that success is a new Secretary of Defense. At least they got that right.

They're damned lucky that people are so fed up with the Republicans - because this kind of strategy is not leadership.

*This not an endorsement of the Republican Party.