Saturday, February 23, 2013

25 things you probably didn't know that you didn't know about me.

Like a freshly painted brick wall in an old downtown corridor, it appears I have been tagged, by one Crystal at Ideally Speaking. I've been at a bit of a loss for writing material so here goes.

1. Where were you born?
In a hospital in Kitchener, ON, presumably on some kind of bed.

2. Were you named after someone?
I usually tell people I was named after my mom's older brother, who is an Andy. In actual fact, I think I was named after my day's secretary at the time, which is something that causes people to side-eye me (not to mention my dad!) pretty hard because that's kind of weird, right?

3. If you have children, how many do you have?
I have two daughters who are that age where they do things like read and go online so I think the less identifying details, the better.

4. How many pets do you have?
I have a cat. His name is Simon. He's kind of a dick.

5. What was your worst injury?
A few years back I was a friends house during some particularly bad freezing rain. I opted to walk home instead of waiting another hour for a ride, since I had to work in the morning. On the way home I slipped on a curb and smacked the back of my head. I walked the rest of the way home, crying and apparently bleeding quite profusely. I ended up with a slight concussion and five stitches in the back of my head.

6. Do you have a special talent?
I think I mention it in my About Me: "Jill of all trades, master of none." I have a lot of things I feel I'm kind of good at.. Writing, drawing, guitar, singing but it'd be kind of awesome to have that kind of prodigal talent that comes with little effort. I have to work pretty hard.

7. What's your favorite thing to bake?
I used to bake a lot of banana bread, usually because I'd have a lot of brown bananas in the freezer. Kids got sick of them. I don't really bake much to speak of.

8. What is your favorite fast food?
I used to like McDonalds because "Hey, at least it's cheap!" Except it's not anymore. It's gotten damn expensive. I like Harvey's, I guess. We had a Union Burger up until recently. I was sad to see it go.

9. Would you bungee jump?
I've watched enough bungee jumping videos that all I can wonder is how people aren't snapping their necks? So probably not. I'd be more likely to sky dive, or maybe zip line.

10. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Oh.. Hell. I don't know. Context matters, I suppose. People on the street? People in my social circles? Physical attributes? Demeanour?

11. When was the last time you cried?
Today, probably? A few small tears of frustration at some task giving me pain? Maybe not. but odds are sometime within the last three days. I'm a crier. My full spectrum of emotion is generally expressed with tears: anger, frustration, sadness, sometimes even joy. It's quite ridiculous. It can be awkward, since our culture is incredibly averse to shows of emotion, not to mention it tends to make me seem a lot more emotionally fragile than I actually am. I mean, I get upset, I cry but then I deal with shit and life goes on. I wish I had better control over it, because there are times where I know people definitely have thought I was being manipulative when I really have a hard time not crying, meh. It is what it is.

12. Any current worries?
Money, trying to be a good mom. Some minor health issues that I am trying to keep from becoming major health issues.

13. Name three drinks that you drink regularly.
Coffee, milk and beer. Option one and three I am attempting to cut down on, due to aforementioned health issues.

14. What is your favorite book?
Hugh Maclennan's The Watch That Ends The Night. I have read it at least fifteen times. It's a beautiful story.

15. Would you like to be a pirate?
I'd rather be a rock star, thanks.

16. What are you favorite smells?
Vanilla, citrus scents and dry dirt roads mid-summer. The last one brings me back to summers at my Nanny's trailer at Musky Bay.

17. Why do you blog?
To vent, mostly. I complain a lot, I guess. My complaining has gotten bigger on a social scale, so that this has turned into a part-time social justice blog.. But sometimes I just want to share the funny shit my kids say and do as well. Or rave about bands I like. Maybe practice some creative writing. It's a place to get out of my own head.

18. What song do you want played at your funeral?
Unlike crystal, I must be morbid because I have the beginnings of a full playlist picked out for my funeral. So far my funeral procession will consist of Trooper's "We're Here for a Good Time", "Angels and Seagulls" by Kimya Dawson, "Do You Realize" by the Flaming Lips, Richard Laviolette's "Funeral Song" and maybe if there is time "The Aeroplane Over The Sea." The basic theme is being okay with mortality. I don't want people to be too sad.

19. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
Well, the crying thing. That sucks, honestly. I'm insecure as all hell as well. I have, what has been referred to online as a bit of a Jerkbrain that likes to, every so often, say things to make me feel bad about myself, usually in reference to how much more awesome everyone else in the world is than me. I like to drown it out with music, lots of music.

20. What is your favorite hobby?
Music soothes even the savage Jerkbrain. My guitar has been my saviour.

21. What do you look for in a friend?
Honesty, with the ability to know the difference between concern and judgement. Willing to be there throughout the good and the bad. An appreciation for the absurd.

22. Name something you've done that you never thought you'd do?
Never really thought I'd take up kick boxing as a hobby, but I quite enjoy it. I don't think I'm disciplined enough to actually fight competitively, but as a workout it's kept me in decent shape.

23. What are your favorite things to do?
I feel like I've answered this. I love playing music, especially in public. This past year I've done a lot of hiking with The Well-Travelled One, and can't wait until the weather gets nice enough to do more. Also love driving around, getting lost.

24. Any pet peeves?
My kids incessantly take their socks off when they go to their dad's after school and then 20 minutes is wasted looking for them when I go to pick them up. Drives me batty. Also, fucking "Share if you agree" Facebook bullshit. Seriously, knock that shit off. Use your share button with discretion, folks.

25. What's the last thing that made you laugh?
Oh jeez. I don't even know. Could have been anything. If there's one thing I do more than cry, it's laugh. The world is a funny, funny place.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Silencing Survivors, or, "I Need To Screen Cap More Often" (Content Warning: Rape/Sex Abuse)

So I grew up in a wee village that was, at one point, a thriving logging town. So, lots of history and such. The Book of the Face, being what it is, of course has a few groups and pages dedicated to this history. I happened to come across one such group through my newsfeed and stumbled onto an interesting thread where an old, early 50's class picture with as many names as could be identified captioned below.

One of the comments on the photograph was from a gentleman who spoke of suffering sexual abuse at the hands of the teacher in said picture. A few other commenters alluded to hearing of this particular teachers proclivities and many on the thread commiserated on the oft-used, especially in previous generations, method of shuffling teachers around to different schools when allegations of abuse came to light.

The commenter who had experienced the abuse himself notified the rest of the thread that an admin had contacted him and asked him not to post "defamatory" comments in the group. Later, the photo had been deleted and the thread was gone.

Now first off, don't get me wrong. Group admins get to moderate as they see fit and if one doesn't like how they choose to moderate, there are other places on the Internet to be. Do they have the right to delete comments and pull photos? Sure they do. Just like bloggers have the right to moderate comments and social platforms have a right to enforce their terms of service. Not giving someone a platform is not the same as actively suppressing someone's right to speak.

However, silencing is a tactic that gets used against rape survivors and childhood sex abuse survivors all too often. In this case, the gentleman's comments were described as "defamatory" when what they were were fucking brave. It takes a lot of guts to speak openly about sex abuse, given the way survivors tend to be doubted, or victim-blamed or have their abuse minimized in a "I'm sure it wasn't that bad" head-patty kind of way.

Calling the comments "defamatory" would have been fitting if this guy was repeating a rumour he had heard, rather than speaking of his own experiences. Referring to someone speaking of their lived experiences as "defamatory" implies that the survivor is to be doubted and that protecting the name of the abuser is more important than the need for the survivor to speak openly about abuse they have suffered.

Which is, to put it succinctly, bullshit. It's silencing and it's fucking Wrong. It takes guts to speak up about abuse, when often there is much more to lose than to gain, personally, from speaking up. When someone does speak up, we owe it to them to listen, not silence.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Being Okay with Being Single.

This post is a long time coming.  I started writing it in my head over a year ago, after reading one of Chally's final posts at Feministe.

It seems odd, I know, for me to write about being single now that I'm in the longest relationship I've had in years.  At least, longest consecutively-running relationship that can't easily be amended with descriptors like "Off-and-on" or "Dysfunctional" or "Toxic" or "Vaguely Demoralizing".

Like I said, I started this post in my head well over a year ago.  However, it seems relevant today since this is a day many people bitterly lament their single status and the often-frustrating search for Twoo Wuv™.  I was one of those people for many years.  Hell, in solidarity with my formerly single self, I still refuse to give this Hallmark Holiday more than a perfunctory nod, because love - of ALL forms, not just romantic or eroticized love - should be something we celebrate everyday and not necessarily the consumer-driven, materialistic, hetero-normative version that is pushed on the general public by the greeting card and diamond industries.

However, I digress.

I had, at the time, come to the conclusion that I was going to be Okay With Being Single.  Not "I'm okay with being single because I know someday someone is going to love me and I will have my Happily Ever After" but "I may possibly spend the rest of my life as a Single Woman and that is okay."  I was coming to the conclusion that I was done seeking the be-all, end-all, heteronormative ideal.. the relationship.  I vowed to stop thinking of myself as All Alone because, dammit I was NOT alone.  I had my children, my family and many wonderful friends.  I decided that would be good enough.  I may or may not consider having sexual encounters but solely on my own terms.   I was done feeling like a failure, like less-than because I was unattached.  

From Chally:
Singleness is treated as something to be fixed. It’s treated as a state one would surely want to change as quickly as possible. If you’re single, you’re automatically miserable, and everyone’s going to try and figure out what’s wrong with you... What would society look like if little girls weren’t expected to organise their lives around finding a sole and central heteronormative relationship around which everything else in their lives must then revolve?
The words rang true.  So I made my decision to stop searching and just enjoy my life as it was.  And then in true fucking cliche'd fashion, when I stopped looking.. boom.  That was just over a year ago.  And it was good.  And continues to be good.

So that post never got written.

However, that decision never quite went away.  I'm still okay with being single, even if I'm not currently.  Because the future is always uncertain.  Make no mistake, I hope that things between the Well-Travelled One and I continue to be good, for a good long time.  Frankly, I like him a lot.  I know, though, that if things between us were to go south for whatever reason, I will be sad, I will Cry the Ugly Cry and wipe my nose on my sleeves and so on and so forth and miss the hell out of the guy, but ultimately life would go on.
It sounds callous, but not really.  It's actually helpful in quelling (some) of my myriad insecurities.  I'm here because I want to be and if  I didn't, I wouldn't have to be.  I have many years of experience in knowing I'm fully capable of being on my own.   On that same level, I like to think that he's with me because he wants to be and not out of any feeling of obligation.

Cliff Pervocracy wrote about the fear of the The Worst Thing In The World and framed this fear as something that may be a motivator for abuse and emotional manipulation in relationships.  The fear of the Worst Thing In The World (ie, a relationship ending) can provoke an extreme fear response:
I remember when my first "I love you" relationship ended.  I couldn't  abide the thought.  I screamed.  I cried.  I tried to seduce him.  (While still crying. Sexxxay.)  I threatened to harm myself if he didn't come back.  I called him until he stopped taking my calls.   The ridiculous thing is, I didn't even like him that much.  It wasn't about getting the joy of the relationship back.  It was about avoiding [The Worst Thing In The World]... What I did to my ex-boyfriend--threatening myself and refusing to leave him alone--was abuse. Fortunately it didn't go on very long, but it was abusive. And I didn't do it because it felt good to scare and upset him. I did it because I was so deeply afraid of losing him.
Cliff goes on to explain how realizing that this wasn't The Worst Thing In The World helped hir to deal with later breakups in a more dignified and mature manner, because it wasn't a 60-foot cockroach, it was only a 6-foot cockroach (read the full post if you're confused as to where cockroaches play into this).

Similarly, the Worst Thing In The World allows a lot of people to put up with a lot of bullshit.  Some people fear their inability to function without a significant other, that they cannot take care of themselves, support themselves financially and so on.  Some people buy into the idea that pairing up must be a life goal.  I had a friend, single at the time, say to me forlornly "I've never had a relationship last."  I looked at them quizzically and thought "Well, no shit.  If you did, you'd be in one right now."  It struck me funny but I realized afterward that in our society an ended relationship is seen as a failed relationship.  And this fear of failure becomes The Worst Thing In The World.

It's not, you guys.

Being single is not a failure.  It's not The Worst Thing In The World.  There is no moral imperative to get yourself all paired up.  Also, no one owes you a relationship.  Nor do you owe it to anyone else.  Spend time with people whose company you enjoy, without worrying if zie is 'The One'.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

So, is Blonde-Washing a thing now? Also, this just in.. Slut-shaming still sucks.

So I may seem hypocritical here, considering my past stance regarding POC's portraying fictional characters that are traditionally portrayed white.  That stance being that I am generally pretty okay with it and think people should not freak out so much about it.  I still stand by that.

That being said, context matters.

So I, like many others, are less than impressed with the new cover for the box set release of Lucy Maude Montgomery's classics Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island.

Here's an older edition:
Source -
And here's the new cover:

This is wrong.  Mainly because Anne Shirley is a redhead and her being a redhead is pretty integral to the plot of the books and how Anne is perceived by the other characters in the book, as well as how Anne sees herself.  So making her a blonde is  ridiculous, at best.  

The other point is that these books take place in late nineteenth century Prince Edward Island.  So the flannel shirt and long flowing hair is a pretty huge anachronism.  So no, I am not impressed by this ill-though-out attempt to modernize Anne for a new audience and I sincerely hope some art director somewhere is having a strip torn off for clearly not picking up the damn book before designing the cover.

The new cover was posted this morning to a local radio station's Facebook page.  As expected, people were not amused and many voiced their disapproval.  Many more, frustratingly, took to insulting and slut-shaming the model on the cover, call her a tart, a hooker and otherwise speculating on this girl's sex life, because she is a blonde and posing in what can be considered a 'sultry' pose.  

People, this is a model.  I have not yet been able to find her name, but I would be willing to bet that when this cover was taken, she may not have even been privy to what they would be used for.  Perhaps just told something vague like "Oh, it's a cover for a book about a girl in the country" if that much information was even divulged.  Yet people feel entitled to judge this girl as though she personally went and defecated on Montgomery's grave.


That second last one makes me laugh out loud.  In what universe does a flannel shirt, buttoned up to the neck, qualify as "provocative" or "scantily clad"?  Oh, and butt-less chaps?  Where the hell did THAT come from??

It's pretty disgusting that people, out of a sense of indignation over a fictional character, feel entitled to insult and degrade the portrayer of said character with gendered slurs.  Anne Shirley is a fictional character, but that girl on the cover is an actual person*

*Unless, of course, she's the result of some really impressive photorealist-type illustration.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oh, Fuck No.

Today in sexist fuckwittery, a school in New jersey has had it's female students take a "no swearing" pledge. You read that right, folks. Just the girls.

Look, in spite of my own potty mouth, I'm not a fan of swearing and have even made (valiant, but failed) attempts at keeping my own expletives to a minimum.  It can make people sound ignorant and uneducated.  In some contexts though, a well-placed expletive can place emphasis on a phrase, really hit a point home.  That's neither here nor there.  Because it seems much more than a little fucked up to me that only the girls are being asked to take this pledge. Am I alone here?

The school denies a double standard is at play. Of course not. I mean, yeah, none of the boys had to take the pledge but they were asked kindly to not swear around the girls, so that's gotta count for something, right?

It counts for making this pledge doubly insulting, because it gives the message that swearing is in appropriate for "ladies" but fairly innocuous when guys do it, unless of course they do it around d us girls and our delicate sensibilities.

What the fuck?

Tumblr user Afroboheme noted that it was telling that the pledge pin was a pair of lips with a red slash through them:
It really got me that they’re promising pins with a ‘red slash through pink lips’. Cause that’s what they actually want. Ladies should keep their fucking mouths shut, amiright? Try and tell me this isn’t what this is actually about? Getting women to shut the fuck up.
Does that seem hyperbolic to you?  Maybe, except that tone arguments and admonishments to be ladylike and not make waves have been used for years to suppress and derail women, who when expressing dissatisfaction and yes, even anger are told they are being hysterical.

So color me fucking unimpressed by this one-sided attempt to teach civility.   If you run a school and you have rules of conduct, then enforce those standards across board.  Don't hold the girls to a different standard than the boys and then claim that you are not upholding a plainly sexist double-standard.  Otherwise, I say, fuck that double-standard bullshit.

*special thanks to Kate for bringing this to my dashboard