Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kids comments on gender and beauty

We were watching an old episode of So You Think You Can Dance on television, which is a show that I'm not sure whether or not I like my kids watching... I love dance, but here is the issue...

After 3 performances where women took off at least one layer of clothing, my son (5 years old) said "the girls can never keep their clothes on"

My daughter's (8 years old) response was "That's because they want to look good."

I changed channels immediately... we are going to have a discussion about gender and hegemonic beauty standards this morning, and I am going to find some dancing shows that are a bit more appropriate for them. Still, I feel as though I can talk to them about this stuff forever, but regardless of what I say to them, the media still gets through at least as strongly as I do.

dating while hairy, fourth edition...

This post was written about 3 weeks ago, and has been waiting for me to get around to uploading the picture from my camera. I will have to do an updated leg hair post in the very near future, as there have been some new developments since this was written.

This will be, by far, the most disturbing post yet for many people... I am actually going to include a picture of my legs... now with 6 months of hair growth!!!

I have had two recent experiences where these legs have led to problems... and the weirdest part is that the people had not even seen them! I was discussing gender performance with a very feminine lesbian that I met online. I'm not sure exactly how the discussion on shaving happened, but I remember it being something about her complaining about not liking to shave, but doing it anyway. She asked me if I ever planned to shave again, and I told her that I wasn't sure... I haven't thought much about it, but I wasn't entirely opposed to the idea. She had to go a few minutes later and hasn't come back online since (which I think means that she blocked me... I'm not offended or anything, we had only spoken a few times, but I think it's a bit funny).

When I did shave my legs often, they would often get little red bumps all over them, the skin would get rough and dry, and within a couple days they would have prickly stubble beginning to grow again. They didn't feel nice to touch without the help of shaving gel and several types of moisturizers. Now that I'm not shaving, the hair and skin are both incredibly soft and I find them way nicer to touch, and they feel better.

I knew that having hairy legs would not be a popular choice for many people, and I was expecting people to be a little uncomfortable with my decision not to shave (for now) at times, but I am surprised by how completely shocked some people have been.

As you can see from the picture, the hair isn't particularly coarse and isn't all that noticeable from a few feet away. Still, when a woman in my grad program saw the hair last week, she jumped back, hands flailing, and almost shrieked "what the hell is that?" She always has perfectly applied makeup and not a hair out of place, so I would imagine that body hair would be a complete no-no for her. I couldn't help laughing at the severity of her reaction, but still, it led me to question whether this was possibly more transgressive than I had originally thought.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Why I love my office!

Ok, the office itself isn't great... really tiny and usually too dirty to put your schoolbag on the floor, but the people are amazing.

A few days ago, I came in to find this sign on the door and I couldn't resist taking a picture to post it here... unfortunately, my cell phone camera leaves something to be desired.

If you cannot see the photo, it has a photo of Karl Marx in a Santa hat and says:
Happy Sociological Xmas (where X= your preferred deity or socially constructed rationale for gift giving)

He sees you when you profit! He knows when you exploit!
Candy for the masses. But for the capitalists, COAL.

Keeping with the holiday spirit, I wanted to use this opportunity to do an entirely non-critical post about how much I like the people I share the office with (ok, maybe I should write 'most of' somewhere in that sentence, but that is not the point).

Three women in particular I want to mention
J, with your never failing inappropriate sense of humor to help lower stress levels when there are impending due dates or stacks of papers to grade (or get distracted from by facebook posts that my mom did not approve of!).
M, with lots of advice about the program and life more generally, one of the wisest young people that I know... and jeggings!
And A, who I rarely get to see because I think she is nocturnal or something, but I feel like I have more in common with in certain ways than anyone I've met in the past few years...

I should also mention E, whose reaction to my leg hair amuses me to no end!

I have found that those of us who risk the germs from whichever random bug happens to be going around that week, discomfort from dust allergies, and wild temperature variations to get work done in that sometimes very crowded environment have grown quite close over the past few months, and I look forward to working with everyone again next semester!

And now I should be getting back to that stack of exams to grade...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Raising tuition fees... Again.

It has been brought to my attention that the university that I attend just raised tuition fees at a meeting last Friday (of course, organized during exams/christmas holidays so that we could not mobilize in any real form at the meeting). I was not there, but I heard that tuition would go up by 5% for returning students, 8% for new students and 16.2% for international students!

Here is the part that really gets me... I was just informed that they approved bonuses for some admin during that same meeting!

I'm glad that the money being taken from my family is going to make a few people that much richer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sexual Assault Crisis Centre closing

I just read that the city's only Sexual Assault Crisis Centre is now closed. Just a few months ago, the Women's Centre closed, and now this. I can't believe that the government can get away with this kind of attack on women's programs.

I have never personally accessed this service, likely because I didn't identify my own experiences as rape until years had passed, but I can only imagine how important these services must be to women in our community. I have accessed one of the programs that was suggested as an alternative and it took 3 weeks after registering to get an appointment, and another 3 months to access services, so hopefully that will not be the case for women who have been assaulted.

I'm going to find out if anyone is organizing a letter writing campaign or protests, because I don't think we should sit back and just let this happen or all of these services will be gone and it will be too late to do anything about it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear radio commercial,

Can you please refrain from making any more jokes about women and their shoes? Yes, we get it... women on TV (and presumably, some women in real life) enjoy wearing cute shoes. But is it really necessary for the company selling snowmobiles to tell us to imagine how many pairs of shoes the $2800 in savings will buy us? Or for the shoe store ad that followed to tell us that high heels are a sign of class? Someone should have told that to Karl Marx... here he was doing a complex analysis of capitalism, when he really should have been looking at women's feet this whole time...

Rest assured that if I am going to spent thousands of dollars on any item, if I will be measuring the savings based on a sale price, it will be in dollars, not shoes... and this is coming from someone who owns about 20 pairs of shoes (which I think is a lot).

I am trying to imagine a similar commercial directed towards men... what would the savings be measured in... beer? I like beer more than I like shoes...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Least favorite christmas commercial. Ever.

Here is my new least favorite christmas commercial. A group of women lying passively on fluffy mattresses in lingerie, singing carols while making sexy face the entire time. I don't think I can sing in sexy face, but then, I don't usually sing only in Ahs and Ohs with a few Las thrown in for good measure.

They seem to think it is clever because music notes and bra sizes both come in letters. However, as a musician I feel the need to point out that I am pretty sure lady number 2 should be wearing a size B flat (no pun intended).

But what I would like to know is whether La Senza actually carries sizes E-G... I know they don't carry my size (at least, not in their adult store).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another reason I don't like the local newspaper

This is a quote from a letter that was published in the local newspaper in which the writer was objecting to using the term "holiday" instead of "christmas"
"Immigrants don't change my way of life, they change theirs to ours --or go back to where they came from."
I almost think this isn't worth commenting on because it seems so ridiculous... when i see a comment like this online I usually ignore it, but this was published in our local newspaper, which I believe gives it the illusion of seeming more valid than if it were just a comment online.

Does the writer not realize that unless they are aboriginal, they too are immigrants to Canada? And I'm pretty sure that Santa Clause didn't visit indigenous children before Europeans settled on the land that we now know as Canada.

Canada is supposed to be multicultural, which should mean that nobody has to change their beliefs or practices in order to fit in, but what actually happens is that the dominant culture becomes the norm, and all other practices become otherized. They are seen as something that is not normal, and not as good as "real" Canadian (euro-centric) cultures and traditions.

There was a recent news story about the citizenship test being more difficult than ever before, which conforms entirely to this notion that if immigrants do not know "our" culture, they should not be in "our" country. I would like to quiz your average Canadian citizen about indigenous cultures just to see what happens... I probably wouldn't pass that test.

Experiment on stopping violence against women

This is an experiment that was conducted about the reporting of domestic abuse. It was conducted in South Africa, but I would suggest that the results in many countries would be more similar than we would like to think.

I had to watch it with the volume off because the sound of the assault was a bit too realistic for my liking.

In the video, neighbors come to the door right away to complain about the noise when someone is playing the drums. But nobody comes or calls the police when they believe that a woman is being abused.

I think every one of us should think about what we would do in such a situation, and if we ever find ourselves in a situation where we see or hear someone who might be in need of help, we should do something about it. Even if you aren't entirely sure whether they want help, I think that the consequences of not calling are far too real.