Similarly, this is one of my favourite feminist blogs, called feministing, but it has ads on the top of it; this particular ad being for eliminating belly fat.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Similarly, this is one of my favourite feminist blogs, called feministing, but it has ads on the top of it; this particular ad being for eliminating belly fat.
far more dangerous are the threats to embedded medical devices. A hacker could stop an insulin pump, turn it on, and drain all of it's contents. Banks are also being warned about the occupy movement, that they might team up with so-called hack-tivist groups
Thanks CTV news.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Yesterday, when I arrived at daycare to pick up my kids, two boys (about 10 years old) were dressed up as girls, wearing sleeveless dresses and high heeled shoes from the dress up bin.
This, in and of itself, is not a problem. I love when kids play dress up, I have a wide array of dress up clothes in a dress up toy box at home and there are no gender rules when it comes to who can wear what costumes. The problem that I had was with regards to how they were wearing the clothes, the way this was seen as humorous by the other kids, and the reasons behind this humour.
At first, I tried to tell myself that it was the element of it being unexpected that was funny to the kids... like when I make used to make my kids laugh, as toddlers, by putting one of their toys on my head like a hat or by using a shoe like a telephone and pretending to be confused when it didn't work. But I think this is more than that... little girls at the daycare dress up in men's clothing all the time, wearing suit jackets and ties or a variety of other outfits that are gendered as masculine. I have yet to witness this being seen as funny. But as soon as these boys came out of the change room in dresses and heels, the daycare exploded in laughter.
If femininity was equal to masculinity within society, this would not be funny. It becomes funny for boys to wear strapless dresses, high heeled shoes, and to walk with exaggerated hip motions because femininity has less value than masculinity, and the children at daycare know it.
I'm not saying that drag is misogynist, I love drag for a variety of reasons that I am not going to get into in this post, but I am mentioning this to differentiate someone who is gendered as male dressing in ways designated for females as a joke and those who do it for reasons related to gender identity, expression, or to expose problems with the gender binary (among other reasons).
I believe that for someone who is gendered as a male to dress in female clothing for humor (with some exceptions)is not unlike a white person wearing blackface; it is someone from a dominant group making fun of an oppressed or marginalized group.
I'm not entirely sure what the solution this specific issue would be... I don't think it would be appropriate or helpful for daycare workers to enforce gendered dress up rules; gender policing would make things worse, not better. But I do think that education could help, try to teach children why it isn't funny. I also think that the only real solution would be to end patriarchal social relations that lead to this being funny in the first place.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Even the helmets for when they are sliding/snowboarding, had only one option meant for girls, being disney princess (which my 9 year old has outgrown) and tons of "boys" options. Luckily, one of those was a rather plain black and white one that I felt was relatively non-gender specific.
Also, I am wondering what the implications are regarding the infantalization of girls, as Dora is geared towards preschoolers whereas comic books are typically meant for older kids.
Now, I have nothing against getting my daughter a spiderman sled, but my son would think it was for him and I'm not sure my daughter would like it... she's all about the pink and frilly. She rides her brother's Marvel comic book sled all the time, but I'm not sure how she would feel about owning one. It seems as though it doesn't matter how much I tell them that these products are needlessly gendered, I am only one voice, and their peers and the media tells them otherwise.
I am not advocating for making a bunch of pink sleds for girls to ride... All I wanted was a sled in pretty much any colour that didn't appear as though it were being marketed only to children of one specific gender. I'm sure I can research it online and get the kind of sled I am looking for, so I'm not posting this looking for sled advice, just commenting on the annoying gendered sleds.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Here are a few comments on some of the points.
1. Pubic hair is not just a biological accident that forces us to the waxing salon. It serves three critical functions. First, it protects the delicate vagina. Second, it serves as a reproductive billboard to alert potential mates that you are biologically (if not emotionally) prepared to procreate. And last, it's a pheromone carpet and traps the scents that lead potential mates to the promised land. So you might think twice before you shave it all off. It's there for a reason. Embrace it.So, the first reason, which seems to be the most important is talked about in passing, without saying how or why it protects... but sociobiological arguments that have nothing to do with how we currently have sex are emphasized and appear to be more important.
3. The average vagina is 3-4 inches long, but fear not if your guy is hung like a horse. The vagina can expand by 200% when sexually aroused, kind of like a balloon. Remember, the vagina was made to birth babies, so it's exceedingly
elastic. If you have pain when getting it on with someone large, you can use
dilators to help stretch the vagina so you can accommodate the whole package.
Hetero-centric. Vaginas exist for penises. And if the penis doesn't fit, the answer isn't to have different types of sex, but to learn to accommodate it.
Isn't that a pretty thought? So many things that we can talk about without having to make women's bodies seem even more disgusting... warn out sweat sock? Really?
5. Yes, it's true -- your vagina can fall out. Not to belabor the sock metaphor, but it can turn inside out just like a worn out sweat sock and hang between your legs as you get older. But don't fret; this condition -- called pelvic prolapse -- can be fixed.
6. Vaginas have something in common with sharks. Both contain squalene, a substance that exists in both shark livers and natural vaginal lubricant. (Cue music: "She's a maneater...")Ewww... vaginas are disgusting... and psychology today is misogynist. I'm not sure how they get away with the maneater comment.
This is the first practical thing that was said, but again, very heterocentric.
7. You can catch sexually transmitted diseases even if you use a condom. Sorry to break it to you, but the skin of the vulva can still touch infectious skin of the scrotum -- and BAM! Warts. Herpes. Molluscum contagiosum. Pubic lice. So pick your partners carefully.
8. The average length of the labia minora is less than ¾ inch long (yes, someone got out a ruler and measured 2981 women). Only 1.8% of women have labia longer than 1 ½ inches. But remember, every vulva is different and special. Some lipsIf you don't want to make one type seem preferable to another, why use words like "neatly"? Also, they tell us what normal is with statistics and measurements and everything, then say not to worry if we aren't normal. If we don't want to worry about not looking "normal", why tell us what "normal" is in the first place?
hang down. Some are tucked up neatly inside. Some are long. Some are short. Some are even. Some aren't. All are beautiful. You're perfect just the way you are.
11. Only about 30% of women have orgasms from intercourse alone. The clitoris is where the action is. Most women who do orgasm during sex have figured out how to hit their sweet spot, either from positioning or from direct stimulation of the clitoris with fingers.Heteronormative...
13. Vaginal farts (some call them "queefs" or "varts") happen to almost all women at one time or another, especially during sex or other forms of exercise.I don't not trust anyone that refers to a vagina as a hooha.
So don't be embarrassed if your hooha lets out a toot. You're perfectly normal.
15. Safe sex (or even just orgasm alone) is good for you. Benefits include lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke, reducing your risk of breast
cancer, bolstering your immune system, helping you sleep, making you appear more youthful, improving your fitness, regulating menstrual cycles, relieving menstrual cramps, helping with chronic pain, reducing the risk of depression, lowering stress levels, and improving self esteem. So go at it, girlfriends!
I'm confused about the separation of safe sex and "even just orgasm alone". To me, this gives an assumption about what counts as sex (vaginal intercourse)... I think it should say something more like "sex and masturbation are good for you." Also, why is it "just orgasm alone"... prioritizing certain acts above others? Maybe this is unintentional, but this kind of language can shape how we think about sex.
This is an example of why I sometimes really don't like psychology as a discipline. The idea that these medical "experts" get to shape so much of what we know and how we know it. The underlying assumptions in this article, such as heterosexuality and what counts as sex, never have to be explicitly stated, and come to shape what we "know" and how we think. Hopefully this pop psychology is far worse than academic psychology. Also, I don't mean to offend psychologists as a whole because I know some that do fantastic work and I know some sociologists who do terrible work.
Friday, December 9, 2011
I have been reading and thinking a lot about privatization within universities lately. Maybe not universities so much as within the particular institution that I currently attend. In the almost 6 years I have been here, I have seen so many changes occur, and like many academics, I am getting increasingly concerned about the future of my program and university educations more generally.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
the biggest economic challenge we face today is not income inequality, greedy corporations, Wall Street corruption or the concentration of wealth among the top 1 per cent. It’s the increasing failure of young men with high-school degrees or less to latch on to the world of work.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I have seen this before, and I am pretty sure I posted about it like 2 years ago, but now it comes as a pretty picture that is being circulated on facebook!
Monday, November 7, 2011
I wonder what qualifies this person to start judging others for bettering themselves and getting a degree. Not that it matters, but my MA is in sociology (or applied social research) and my main topic is access to education... I'm not sure where this queer theory stuff comes from, except that I post about it often on this blog.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
[I am] in a fix. But I can’t help wondering whether she, and not the greedy Wall Street bankers, is the author of her own misfortune. Just what kind of jobs did she imagine are on offer for freshly minted sociology graduates? Did she bother to ask?
The class of people who expect to find self-fulfillment (and a comfortable living) in non-profit or government work, by saving the planet, rescuing the poor and regulating the rest of us. They are what the social critic Christopher Lasch called the “new class” of “therapeutic cops in the new bureaucracy.”
It’s not the greedy Wall Street bankers who destroyed these people’s hopes. It’s the virtueocracy itself. It’s the people who constructed a benefit-heavy entitlement system whose costs can no longer be sustained. It’s the politicians and union leaders who made reckless pension promises that are now bankrupting cities and states. It’s the socially progressive policy-makers in the U.S. who declared that everyone, even those with no visible means of support, should be able to own a home with no money down, courtesy of their government. In Canada, it’s the social progressives who assure us we can keep on consuming all the health care we want, even as the costs squeeze out other public goods.
Did it occur to her that it might be a good idea to figure out how to support her children before she had them?
If she’d only applied a bit more critical thinking to herself, she might be able to pay the rent.
Margaret Wente believes that Occupiers are blaming the wrong people in identifying capitalism as a fundamental problem. She says "It’s not the greedy Wall Street bankers who destroyed these people’s hopes. It’s the virtueocracy itself. "
Well, if Wente can pick the "virtueocracy" to blame, I'm going blame her. And capitalism. But I'm especially going to blame her for her badly-argued, feebly-researched, mean, system-apologist excuses for "journalism." Because surely she is responsible for at least that.
Won't you join me? This week, whenever we identify some wrong in the world, some injustice, some oppression, some situation whereby some groups of people mysteriously end up immiserated in relation to others, let's blame Wente
Also, I will write more about the educational aspect of this either this evening or tomorrow!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Why is it that when I talk to a person who associates themselves with the right I get called a communist? And when I talk to a person who associates themselves with left I get called a libertarian? Come on now. I am better morally than either of the two possibilities that have been presented. Communism leads to totalitarianism. Libertarianism is absolutely oppressive. Fuck both of them, I want a new ideal to strive for.
communism does not necessarily lead to totalitarianism... that is just how it has played out on certain occasions.
at risk of sounding like a neoliberal--which is not what I'm promoting at all--communism is absolute tyranny over individual. It requires that your needs be the same as everybody else, it requires a homogeneity of thought that impinges the creative process. There is nothing desirable about the equality that the communist promotes. I would prefer a principle which limits oppression over the individual, rather than increases it.
I have heard this argument many times. That communism cannot account for individual differences, which I think is absurd. How does capitalism account for individual differences? By upholding sexist, racist, heterosexism, ageist and ableist hierarchies?
And how would communism create any kind of homogeneity of thought impinging on the creative process when so many Marxist work is based on the creative capacities of the people or on reaching our full human potential? To me, capitalism (and any form of organizing with differential power relations) requires a homogeneity of thought... as Marx says "the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch ruling ideas". If workers didn't uphold the ideas of the ruling class, they would revolt.
I was on my cell phone at this time and had limited ability to respond, but I wrote;
it is a misconception that communism would require homogeneity. Look at the famous quote "from each according to ability to each according to need". Difference is accounted for. Your argument is like saying you don't like cats because they're yellow. It makes no sense! Don't confuse Stalinist Russia with communism.
So ,he was offended by the cat comment... which, in retrospect, was kind of rude, but I thought it made a certain point. In his next response, he argues that communism requires giving absolute power to a small group who are supposed to act in the best interest of the people, and then says
Dismantle the power of the few and you have yourself a properly functioning democracy. Which is way better than communism for sure.
ummm... that's what the communism I imagine would look like... a "properly functioning democracy," not hoping a few people will act in everyone's best interest. So I said
Its not communism if a small group has power. Communism only exists if wealth and power are held by everyone. As soon as the heirarchies between powerful and powerless (or less powerful) begin to develop, you have something else entirely being called communism.
Still not accepting the difference between communism and what has been passed off as communism on specific occasions, he used Russia as The Historical Example of why communism is inherently wrong using Nietzche's will-to-power to back up his point.
These "historical" arguments using one specific example of communism not working to show why communism will never work might be the thing that annoys me most about arguments on whether or not it is feasible. And I responded by saying
You are looking at history selectively. Some communist states did not turn totalitarian- some were overtaken by capitalism through war others fell apart for other reasons (our "civalization" being forced on to them for example), some near-communist societies do exist (zapatistas). I will accept that honest attempts at communism haven't worked out, and that some attempts were not actually attempting communism, but I don't think that (or nietzche) proves definitively that communism is impossible.
I could keep going and show the rest of the arguments here, which continued to bring up Nietzche, but I don't think it is relevant to my post (or in the interest of keeping people reading my blog when the posts are too long).
I think the main point of this post is that several of these arguments play out all the time and I am tired of them because they don't make sense.
1. Stalinist Russia was not a communist state. It's demise does not prove communism to be impossible.
2. Different ideas are not only possible, but encouraged, in a communist state. Communism does not require everyone to do the same thing, think the same thing, have the same needs, or go back to a technology free society where nobody gets anything that we might consider a luxury (another common assumption).
3. Communism does not give power to a few people to make decisions for everyone. Communism would require full democratic participation.
I could really dissect the debate and come up with dozens of misconceptions that tend to play out on a regular basis, but, I am going to stop with these three for now. Feel free to add your own in the comments section if there is a common argument that you find particularly annoying.
I think these misconceptions are part of why so many people who I might consider to be communists do not embrace the term "communism." And, if we don't start using the word more often, how are we going to change these misconceptions?
Edited to add: A friend pointed out that this is somewhat simplistic, and I thought I should acknowledge that they are correct... I could turn this into three (or more) separate posts and make it far more nuanced and whatnot, and I might someday do that, but for now, this piece that does oversimplify some things will have to do!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
"I'll be your best friend... just kiss me"
So Wendy bent down and kissed the frog. She didn't really want to, but after all, he had been very kind to her -- and he didn't really have more warts on his face than princess Viola.
For the princesses in this book, the old rules no longer apply. They might still wear tiaras, but they do things their own way!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I have spent the better part of two days at Occupy Sudbury, and two days before that at Occupy Toronto… that hardly makes me an expert, but I have heard some reoccurring questions that I want to address here.
What is it I think this movement can do?
First and foremost, in my opinion, is that it opens up space for dialogue. I often talk about politics in my everyday interactions with people, but I often read that talking about controversial things like politics is not polite in certain situations. I have friends that never talk about politics, which saddens me… politics are so much fun to talk about!
In my last post about the occupy movement, I talked about Weber, and in this one, I will discuss another theorist that I almost never use in my own academic work; Habermas! Hopefully I don't simplify this so much that I am not doing his work justice, but basically, what he said was that within the public sphere, which is a public space not controlled by the state, people could engage in conversation and exchange views and knowledge and that this undistorted communication could lead to liberation. However, through the mass media and mass consumption (as well is bureaucracy and excessive rationality among other things) we lose our ability to think critically about the state.
The space that has been created by the occupy movement, and how it has been used for political discussions, has reminded me of my third year sociological theory prof's lecture on Habermas. There are a lot of problems with his work - for instance, whereas Habermas thinks that opening up this space for communication could allow people to speak freely about politics, I would argue that we really need to put more emphasis on the social and economic hierarchies that shape how we view the world and how we can talk about it… speech, in a racialized, patriarchal, capitalist society will likely never be free from distorting influences such as social power, and this is something I keep bringing back into our conversations at the occupy sites (such as in my critique that most of the leaders-who-are-not seem to be young, charismatic, white men). Anyway, it just amuses me when every day experiences bring to mind lectures or readings that I haven't really thought of in years.
So, back to the question of what I want this movement to do. What I hope it is currently starting to do is expose some of the social relations involved in aspects of our economic and political system that have been reified to the point where they seem like naturally existing structures without any alternatives. We created capitalism. It is not a thing that has always existed... it hasn't even been around very long. We made it. We can end it or we can change it.
In order to want to do so, we have to expose so many of the ideas that we have come to think are true, but are really just ideologies that serve to uphold capitalism. Ideas like poverty being caused by individual flaws, we need to get rid of the language associated with "helping the poor" and "handouts" (which were used last weekend by some very progressive people in the group).
These imply that certain people deserve everything they have gotten within capitalism, but should help others who are less fortunate. This is problematic because it upholds the capitalist system.
The other question I hear a lot of is with regards to solutions… let's just say that the education part works, then what?
Here is where I come into problems... I simply don't know what the answer would be. But I think that is a good thing because I don't think that any one person has that answer. Nick Dyer-Witheford writes about using people's creative capacities to come up with something better - a new way of organizing. I like this idea, we can learn from previous movements - what has worked and what hasn't - and build from there.
I do think it has to be everyone working together. The workers movement was quieted by dividing us up into trade unions without the capacity to organize together and support all workers. It is difficult to frame this movement in a way that all people are being included, that reparations are being made to certain groups, that decisions are being made while considering the specific needs of groups, the ways that the current political, economic and social relations are affecting the ways that we are able to participate in this movement.
As a sidenote, also relating to Nick Dyer-Witheford's work, I love how we are using tools of capitalism against itself within this organizing. Using facebook, twitter, youtube, blogs, etc. to get the messages out to so many people.
It is very early in the organizing process. There are so many possibilities. And I believe that the problems within the movement are easier to talk about now, while it is still new, as opposed to later, when things become more entrenched and the social relations become hidden in routine processes.
Still, at the same time I am having trouble working in a movement with so many people with such diverse opinions. I enjoy the dialogue, and I am usually good at respecting the fact that people have different beliefs and ideas and that everyone's are just as valid as my own… but sometimes I hear things that make me cringe at just how problematic I think they are (granted, I'm sure there are people there who do the same when I speak)... I should add, are not reflective of the movement as a whole, just a few opinions that keep popping up either here or in Toronto, or both.
1. The national anthem.
I was not there when they sang this in Toronto, but I was shocked when I heard about it. Indigenous communities were torn apart by European settlers and that these communities are still struggling in a variety of ways. The national anthem is a colonial song - it celebrates a colonial nation. There were indigenous peoples present objecting to it, but it was sung anyway.
Then, in the local occupy movement, it was played in a youtube video right before an indigenous drumming circle, which fostered more than a few discussions yesterday afternoon at the occupy site about whether this is a sign of "solidarity and friendship" or whether it is colonial and disrespectful. Neither side won, but the people advocating for fostering friendship and solidarity agreed to check with elders in the community.
And, on top of colonial implications, nationalism does nothing to help support what should be viewed as a global movement.
2. "The police are our friends."
The police are not our friends. Individual officers do make up the 99% in that they do not have huge sums of money that influence decision making on a legislative level, but, as a group, they do have a considerable amount of power. Yes, they smile and act friendly towards us, and I am not necessarily opposed to us doing the same, but remember, when they get their orders to arrest us, the power they have will become very evident. This also has other implications, where certain groups are more likely to have problems with the police than others (such as indigenous people).
Still, the local police have told us that they support us, and we don't exactly have large numbers of people at the occupy site at the moment, so I wouldn't advocate for anything that is is too anti-police. But don't think of them as friends or allies.
3. The word "violence" is thrown around.
"No using violence... like yelling at police officers or breaking things". Now, I agree that the protest is probably best off being peaceful, especially because we are trying to build public support, but I object to using the word "violence" when referring to damaging property or speaking loudly. For police actions to be considered violent, there has to be bodily harm inflicted... why do we not have the same standard. I'm not saying that we should damage property... I think that doing so would likely halt the movement through mass arrests and outrage against the 'violent' and 'threatening' protesters. I just think we should reframe how we are conceiving of violence and use different language when we are talking about these issues. Property damage is not violence (unless someone is likely to get hurt).
4. Lastly was the phrase "the most important thing is..." at facilitation/organizing meetings. To me, the most important thing for a facilitating meeting is to work out the logistics to create a space that will foster discussion and allow occupiers to have necessary amenities (bathrooms, food, shelter, warmth, etc.). If you are coming to the facilitation meetings to talk about how the most important thing is promoting electoral reform or climate change or whatever else you think it is, then I believe we are going about this the wrong way. What makes the occupy movement so amazing is that it can bring in so many people with diverse experiences. Your specific soap box argument is not the point of a facilitation meeting (and yes, I understand that using my soap box - this blog - as a means to convey this statement can be seen as ironic, or even somewhat hypocritical, but my point stands).
And now I will set aside some of this cynicism, make a few more kick ass signs (thus far, I have carried a sign with a Marx quote "What the bourgeoisie produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers" and one I have carried before in Toronto "there's no war like class war"- which I would love to nuance, but a sign does not allow for that). I will be back at the occupy site this afternoon for the rush hour road-side demonstration I can't wait until we have enough people to have a march like in Toronto.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
This image emphasizes the importance of women being pretty and reliance on men within Disney films, in some of the characters that little girls idolize most.
This film (found here) shows masculinity in disney films.
My favorite piece from it was this quote.
It's much more a question in creating a certain environment of images that we grow up in and become used to and after a while those images will begin to shape what we know and what we understand about the world... it's a slow accumulative affect and it's much more subtle.I don't blame Disney for sexism by any means, but I think this quote is very true. These images become seen as normal and gendered practices that exist throughout the media become entrenched in our thinking as naturally gendered behaviours based on real biological differences, when in fact, many (if not all) of these differences are social constructs.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
What we are dealing with here is a communist society [not really- at least not yet], not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society, which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birth marks of the old society from whose womb it emerges (1981).
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
I am almost amused by some of their arguments... the right hand column has a few items that appear to be taken directly from the curriculum... here are the examples of "bad" things for kids to learn;
Discuss ways to challenge these notions so that people have more choice in who they are and what they want to do
Read some traditional folk tales and fairy tales with the class. Have students write/illustrate their own “gender-bending” versions
The class discusses the significance of Toronto’s annual Pride Week celebrations
Search imagines of Pride Week… make posters for the [school board] float and/or school bus that are in the Pride Parade. Additionally, students could have their own Pride Parade at their school
My only question is where do I sign my kids up for this kind of education, and can we have it in all grades and all schools? At first I thought it was a joke, like, using good arguments to make the opposite point of what it appeared to be making, but their website suggests these are their actual arguments.
Edited to add:
I just came across this response ad here... I can't figure out how to embed the picture, but check out the link!