Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gender Essentialism in Your Stocking This Christmas

This showed up on my Pinterest feed yesterday:

It's a list of stocking stuffer ideas for Christmas, by age.  I groaned inwardly when I saw that it was divided into a list for boys and one for girls.  Then I got a little optimistic when I saw that the first half-dozen or so items on the list were identical.  Play dough, art supplies, bubbles, stickers.. I can totally get behind this list.

And then as I continued to scroll down, my heart dropped with an almost audible sitcom trombone chorus - You know the one... wah wah waah waaaaah. About six or seven lines down, we get to the inevitable.  Cars and action figures for boys, dolls and jewellery for girls.


Can we step out of our boxes for a minute and consider the fact that some little girls just might enjoy playing with cars?  Or maybe there are little boys that enjoy playing with dolls?

I know many people will jump up with "But My Daughter LIKES dolls! My Son Likes Trucks! They wouldn't WANT to play with trucks/dolls!"  That's awesome.  Really, it is.

Your kid is not EVERY kid.

How many kids out there aren't getting what they would really like for Christmas because lists like these reinforce gender stereotypes that dictate what toys are appropriate for what gender? I'm not even going to get into the assumption of a gender binary here, because people tend to lose their shit when faced with the suggestion that a kid may be anything more than all-boy or all-girl.

What I wonder is why the creator of this image couldn't have amalgamated these items into one list and done away with the unnecessary gendering of sunglasses, jewellery, Nerf Guns and Barrels of Monkeys?

Speaking as a former little girls I, for one, LOVED Barrel of Monkeys.  It was a goddamned barrel of FUN.

UPDATE: So last night I posted a comment on the blog where this image originally came from asking, very diplomatically, why split the list into boys/girls, since parents clearly would already know whether their kids were into dolls or trucks, regardless of gender.  I wish I had taken a screen cap, because I went back to see if there was a response and my comment has been deleted.  I followed up, although I doubt my response will garner a response.

There's also a disclaimer at the top of the blog now asking not to leave harsh comments regarding the splitting of the lists into boys/girls.  That may or may not have been there before I commented.  I hadn't really paid attention, so if it was already there, my bad.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Exploiting Victims in the Name of Activism

So, as we already know, Chris Brown is a giant, girlfriend-beating douchecanoe.  Chris Brown the rapper, not Chris Brown that guy that used to work with my sister.  That guy was pretty cool and to the best of my knowledge, never beat anyone with an umbrella.

No, I definitely mean this guy. - Jeff R. Bottari/Getty Images
So, some folks in Sweden decided to protest one of Brown's concerts and in said protest, decided to put up a huge billboard and posters featuring the visage of then-and-possibly-now girlfriend, Rhianna, shortly post-assault.  You know the one, where he beat the shit out of her.

I am not okay with this.

Don't get me wrong.  My issue with these billboards has nothing to do with any desire to see Brown NOT punished to the further extent of the law by the court of public opinion.  I would love nothing more than for him to be forever known not as Chris Brown, Musician but Chris Brown, Giant Girlfriend-Beating douchecanoe.

Seriously, fuck that guy.

I love the fact that people are putting stickers on his CD's reminding people that this guy beat the shit out of a woman and maybe we shouldn't give him our money.  I'd love to see people do similar to Guns N Roses CDs, or Roman Polanski films or DVD boxed sets of Three and a Half Men.  (Axl Rose was accused of beating two exes, Roman Polanski drugged and raped an underaged girl and Charlie Sheen is.. well, Charlie Sheen).   Sing it from the rooftops.  "THIS GUY BEATS WOMEN."  Blow-horn that shit, seriously.

Can we do that without exploiting the victim?  That is my main issue with this postering effort. Given the fact that it appears that Brown and Rihanna are kind of off-again, on-again, I'd be willing to bet that she has not given any permission for her image to be used in such a way.  This is not a publicity photo from a magazine spread.  It's a picture taken in the wake of a horrific assault, when Rhianna, as a subject, was in a vulnerable position.  It's a haunting reminder of what he did to her, but is not for us, as the public, to consume.

As I said, I do not think Chris Brown deserves anything less than to have his name forever associated with being that guy who beat his girlfriend with, ironically enough, an umbrella and then was known to throw hissy fits when the media refused to just 'get over it'.  But in such cases, the victim's right to privacy should be respected, without being exploited as a poster child for a cause.  It reminds me of The World According to Garp and the Ellen Jamesians, who alienated Ellen James by making her a martyr and, through their movement, refusing to let her move past her own assault.

The use of Rhianna's battered face as a reminder of Brown's wrong-doing feels exploitative to me.  I feel like the people who created these posters were more interested in vilifying an abuser (which, on it's own is not a bad thing) than protecting the victim from further harm.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election is over, put on your big-boy pants and deal with it.

Specifically, I am addressing one Mr. Donald Trump, who went on a Twitter-rage rampage last night.

Caption: You, my sweet angel face are being a fucking hater.
Special thanks to Azia and this blog for this image.  It's my favourite thing in the world right now.  If anyone knows the original source, please let me know so I can give proper attribution.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wherein an era comes to a close, and customer service flies out the window.

So annoyed right about now.

I went to pick up the girls only to be informed that the youngest's indoor shoes, which I bought not more than two months ago, were broken and in need of replacing.  It seemed a good idea to take them back to Zellers and ask for a refund because in no universe should a pair of children's runners fall apart after two lousy months.   She never even wore them outside.

Zellers used to offer a "Kidurable" guarantee on all of their children's wear.  If they wore it out before they outgrew it, then they'd replace it.  Since I still had the receipt, I figured piece of cake.

Yeah, except that not too long ago, Zellers got bought out by Target and now all the locations are either in the process of becoming Target or, if you live in an area that is economically depressed and already has a Walmart such as we do, being liquidated and closed down.  One of the first steps was saying "effyoo" to the Kidurable guarantee.

No, wait it gets better.

So because the shoes are no longer guaranteed I have only the option of exchanging them for a new pair.  Which would be awesome, if there were more than, oh say, two pairs in the kids size available.  And two of those pairs cost about twice as much as the original pair.  We had the foresight to re-measure her feet, thankfully her feet had grown and she was up a size so this brought us up to three or four possible pairs.  That's if you count the ones in the boys section as well.  Yeah, it's safe to say they're pretty picked over in their shoe selection.

So let's recap shall we?
  1. The cheap-assed shoes that lasted a mere month beyond the 30 day return period can only be exchanged.  No money back, even though logic would dictate that if I bought a shitty pair of shoes somewhere which fell apart after two months, I'd want to take my money elsewhere, perhaps somewhere the shoe selection was less shoddy and craptacular on-the-whole.
  2. Had I not been able to find a suitable replacement, I'd have been stuck with the original broken pair.
  3. I not only have to go through the whole pain in the ass that is children's shoe shopping a second time, I have to pay extra for the privilege since no shoes are available in the original price range.
  4. Because of the exchange-only policy and the lousy fucking 'We're liquidating and oh yeah it's winter' selection of running shoes I am limited to the same shitty line of shoes.
  5. This means that in two or three months time, I'm almost inevitably going to be in the exact same boat only this time Zellers will either be in total liquidation so my exchange-only selection will be even MORE limited and shitty or the whole damn store will be gone and I'll be completely shit out of luck.
So, thanks for nothing Zellers.  If not for the bitter taste this incident has left in my mouth, I'd almost be sad to see you go.  At least your demise blessed us with this:

Oh and then in all but perhaps karmically unrelated incident I proceeded to dump the contents of the green bin on the kitchen floor.  Which was awesome.

So, how is your night?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Shoppers Drug Mart Agrees to Hold Off on Christmas Music, People Predictably Lose Their Shit, Act Like Total Assholes.

Holy crap, you guys.  A store actually listened to a customer complaint.  A CHAIN store, even.  And then, everything went to hell.  Because we can't have nice things.

I picked this up via fellow blogger Tom Megginson, who writes  at The Ethical Adman

So, I guess someone complained about Shoppers Drug Mart playing Christmas music in their stores the freaking day after Halloween and shockingly the store chain said, via their Facebook page "Okay, cool, we'll hold off"

Predictably, people are freaking out about political correctedness gone apeshit and the so-called "War On Christmas."

The store chain has stated that this is not a permanent ban -  they're just holding off citing that many people thought it was too soon.  There are a lot of Canadians who are pushing to have people and establishments hold off on putting up Christmas decorations and playing music until after November 11th, so as not to take attention away from Remembrance Day.

Can I reiterate?  NOT A PERMANENT BAN.

Holy shit, people.  I'm the first one to say that when I start hearing Christmas carols in stores when there are still dead babies on my lawn, it kind of takes some of the magic out of the season.  Give us a chance to breathe before throwing the general public into another harried holiday season.  I personally like a little chance to get excited about Christmas before I move onto being stressed as fuck about it.  So kudos to Shoppers Drug Mart for this move, says I.  If you can do something about your bloody make-up counters and their proximity to the front door, then we'll be on a roll.

Anyway, to no one's surprise, the thread has devolved into the ultimate game of War-on-Christmas bingo, complete with racist, go-back-where-you-came-from anti-immigrant sentiment.   Check out Tom's post for some of the worst offenders.  I'm thinking of getting a big old bottle of something alcoholic tonight and reading through the epic thread that has already reached over 3600 comments in the last three hours.

If you wanna take part, just take a drink everyone someone invokes the following:

  • Allusion to people being 'too politically correct'
  • References to a War on Christmas
  • Telling non-christians to go back where they came from and ignoring the fact plenty of non-christians are born here.  Including the millions that lived here before Christians ever showed up.
  • Anti-muslim comments
  • Complaints about not being able to say "Merry Christmas" 
  • References to "Holiday Trees"
  • Putting the Christ back into Christmas
  • The Grinch or Scrooge
Something tells me I'm going to be feeling rough tomorrow.