Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do You Know What Time It Is?

"Do you know what time it is?"

Working in outbound call centres, I've been asked that question quite a bit, by people who are outraged at being called at 6pm, or 9pm, or whatever time they find objectionable. And I'm puzzled as to what kind of answer the people who ask this question expect.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sex Worker's Right to Safety Vindicated by Ontario Court

Well, it looks like the new law enforcement regulations that would have made it easier to target sex-workers for "keeping a common bawdy house," that I wrote about here, aren't going to be a problem in Ontario, at least. That law, along with the criminal prohibition on "communicating for the purposes of prostitution," and "living on the avails of prostitution," all of which made it difficult for sex workers to take measures to ensure their own safety, have been found by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to violate the Charter right to security of the person.

The case does not solve the problems related to prostitution, [Alan Young, lawyer for the claimants] said.
"That's for your government to take care. Courts just clean up bad laws."
"So what's happened is that there's still going to be many people on the streets and many survival sex workers who are motivated by drugs and sometimes exploited by very bad men. That's not going to change," Young added.
"Here's what changed. Women who have the ability. the wherewithal and the resources and the good judgment to know that moving indoors will protect them now have that legal option. They do not have to weigh their safety versus compliance with the law."

CBC reports on the case.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Toronto Privilege

Home, sweet home

I am white, able-bodied, heterosexual, cisgender, well-educated, I speak English as a first language, and I am border-line class-privileged. I am aware of these facts, and make an effort to keep my privilege in check. 

I'm also Torontonian, born and raised. 

I'm For Keeping Fear Alive

On the Colbert Report tonight, the eponymous host lamented the fact that his "March to Keep Fear Alive" only had about half as many RSVPs on Facebook as Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity". So, I'd like to speak out in support for Colbert's march.

The reason why has to do with the way Stewart presented his competing event. And I realize that this is the third post criticizing The Daily Show in one month; I really do like the show, which is why I find it disappointing when it falls short of expectations. Anyways, the problem: Stewart positioned himself as a moderate, situated between the extremists of both the left and right, which right away made me suspicious because the left wing really has no political representation in the United States, so whatever "middle ground" there is between political parties is skewed to the right. He showed clips of political activists acting kooky. I didn't recognize most of the left-wing activists. The one clip I did recognize was of Lady Gaga (natch) screaming, "ARE YOU LISTENING?" into the microphone at a gay rights rally a while ago (the question was directed at President Obama). 

Now, I am of the opinion that marginalized people demanding their rights, no matter how uncivilly, are not in the same category as those insisting that the President of the United States is a Marxist-terrorist-antichrist. In fact, I find it profoundly unreasonable to expect marginalized groups to rationally argue that they should enjoy equal rights. As I am fond of saying, it is the nature of equality that it cannot be "given" - equality can only be claimed. I think it's presumptuous of Stewart to position himself the way he has, and that it sets up a false equivalence between activists on the left and on the right. 

Oh, and I'm also tired of hearing that only left-wing extremists accuse W. Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney of being war criminals, as though the accusations spring from zany opinions, instead of from the fact that engaging in a war of aggression makes them war criminals, by definition. 

Colbert, on the other hand, just straight-up satirizes right-wingers. And that's something I can get behind. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Go Where?: Gender and Ability, Intersectionality and Constructivism

In the massive response to my post, "Go Where?: Sex, Gender, and Toilets," a couple of issues were raised that I want to follow up on. There were a number of people who noted that I left out an analysis of wheelchair access signs. I offer that analysis in this post. But to do so properly, I first have to go back to the concept of the "universal male", and my assertion that some washroom signs depict men as "people" and women as "people in skirts." It seemed like readers took issue with that part of the post more than any other, so I offer further explanation and support for the argument.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Religion Has A Place In Schools

Because I enjoy staring aghast at my computer screen, I wandered over to Glenn Beck's new blog,, just to see what was going on. The major complaint of the day seemed to be that some folks in Illinois were protesting the Republican candidate's campaign with signs, one of which depicted Beck with a Hitler mustache. *snort*

Elsewhere on the page was a story covering the shocking news that a middle school class had visited a mosque. Apparently to study it's architecture. There was a video of the kids bowing or some such. Scandal! Indoctrination! And the tour guide was recorded telling the kids that "jihad" means "struggle" not "holy war", and that women could vote under Mohammed. Lies! Brainwashing! Somebody think of the children!

Except that "jihad" does mean "stuggle" - often an inner struggle to be a better Muslim. And Mohammed did improve conditions for women at the time. And I think it would be a great idea for religion to be taught in public schools...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Daily Show RaceFAIL: STFU, John Oliver

I'm watching The Daily Show. They just had a bit where John Oliver interviewed a fringe candidate running in the primary for the Wisconsin state assembly. The candidate was a black woman named Ieshuh Griffin.

Can you guess where this is going?

The story was that Griffin wants her statement of principle on the ballot to be "NOT the whiteman's bitch." She explained why she chose the phrase, demonstrating a grasp of critical race theory. Griffin talked about "whiteman" signifying power structures rather than individuals, and about the significance of "bitch" as a dog used for breeding. "Okay," I thought, "Makes sense. It's gutsy. But it's rather awesome that she's refusing to dilute her politics. Good for her." Oliver proceeded to mimic the way Griffin analyzed language, as though it was something that only crazy people did. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meat Dress Vindication!

Cher tweeted:
Loved doing VMA’s ! Lady Gaga rocked it ! Meat Dress was So INTERESTING Up Close. The way it was cut & fitted to her body was AMAZING ! Meat purse was genius ! As Art piece it was astonishing ! No moral Judgement ! Back in the day it woulda been called ” A Happening” ! modern art elicits discussion, introspection & conflict ! Everyone’s talking about it! BINGO!
Thank you Cher!

I realized that I need to do a full post on the phrase "attention whore" and what is so detestable about it. Also coming soon: a follow-up to the washroom signs post, elaborating on the universal male/female as variation idea, which a number of commenters seemed to have trouble with; and analyzing signs indicating washrooms are wheelchair accessible. More substantive content, on the way!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Defending Lady Gaga, And A Personal Reflection On Why I Do

I was looking over the comments at Jezebel's liveblog of the VMAs, and what's with vehement reactions to the meat dress? Folks are saying that it was, "Disgusting, wasteful, unnecessary, yes. Edgy, no;" it was, "too much;" "there can't possibly be a point to it; just a way to get attention." Although acknowledging that it was not real meat [note: to my surprise, I found out later that the dress was in fact made of real meat], one commenter wrote, "there are hungry people in the world and you're going to drape meat all over your body?" They "disapprove."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lady Gaga And Being An Ally

It was good to see Lady Gaga not letting an opportunity to make a statement about gay rights slip by. But the way she chose to bring attention to DADT at the MTV Video Music Awards tonight was not the most thoughtful. She had service members, who had either quit or been discharged from the US armed forces because of their sexuality, with her on the "red" carpet. It was was like they were accessorizing her. She was wearing the issue. If she had given the mic to one of the service members to say a couple of words about why they were with her, that would have been better. Let it be about them, instead of about her.

ETA: Lady Gaga's official website is now a banner encouraging fans to go to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network website and take action against DADT. Yay! :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Group That Thinks Jesus' Cosmic Tears Can Wash Away The Gay =/= Legitimate Charity

Via Canuk Attitude:

Mark at Slap Upside The Head has initiated a campaign to revoke charitable status in Canada to Exodus Global Alliance. What is Exodus Global Alliance, you ask? It's a US-based "religious" group whose aim is to "cure" gay people with the power of Jesus. They think homosexuality can be "treated" with religion and what is probably a traumatic bout of "therapy". Which is all kinds of degrading and harmful to gay people. Not to mention fanciful and impossible. This group should not benefit from the full registered charity status that it currently enjoys.

To learn more, and find out what you can do, see Slap Into Action.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nuclear Proliferation: A-Okay If You Don't Stone Women?

On The Daily Show tonight, Jon Stewart made the claim that a major reason why the rest of the world doesn't want Iran to have nuclear weapons is because they stone women for adultery.

To which I say, "Really?"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


If you've been on the internet at some point over the past couple of years, then you've probably seen this photo. I encountered it again, recently. But for the first time I noticed the website at the bottom of the sign. I thought to myself, "that website is probably a hot mess of nonsense." So, because there were more productive ways I could have spent my time instead, I decided to look it up.

You'll be glad to know that the website is now defunct. However, it has been archived. Upon visiting the archive, my curiosity and persistence were rewarded with the following discovery:

Monday, September 6, 2010

What Comes After The Gender Binary

My post about washroom signs has been hit at Sociological Images. 407 comments; traffic to their website doubled on Friday; and it's being translated into French. Yay!

The comments are a mix of thoughtful discussion and privileged "you're reading too much into this... blah-blah-blah." There was one comment that I especially want to address because it contains a sentiment that I frequently see expressed. And it speaks to an interesting difference between how feminists/LGBT activists/allies and social conservatives understand gender.

In the comments someone going by "SP" wrote:
So male/female binaries are unacceptable. Ok. ... 
Why is this idea that the two sexes are biologically different so offensive to most sociologists? If there were a biological advantage to NOT being sexually dimorphic then that’s how we would have evolved, but we didn’t.
Males and females of our species are different. There’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, I think our biological and neurological differences are what make us more interesting as a species. Why is it necessary to obliterate every difference between genders?  ...

Friday, September 3, 2010

♪ I am by no means a sexist... ♫

In the comments on my guest post on Sociological Images (of which there are 328, at last count), someone posted a link to this very, very funny song. Basically, someone takes a mansplaining comment from a blog and mocks it by turning it into a folk ballad. Making it into a song somehow highlights the incongruity of the commenter's assertion that "I am by no means a sexist" and, well, everything else he says. "Lyrics" here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I like The Toronto Star

Photos of a Manitoba judge in bondage and performing sex acts turned up on the internet, apparently without the judge's knowledge or consent. The judge is a woman. There are many ways that reports on this happening could take a turn for the disgustingly sexist. Based on public responses to the release of sex tapes without the consent of one of the partners, people - including a number of feminists (*cough* Mary Elizabeth Williams *cough* Jezebel commenters *cough*) - get really victim-blamey and slut-shamey.

And yet, this is the thought that The Toronto Star ends their article with:
[Bruce] Ryder, of Osgoode, believes if a judge isn't involved in anything illegal or something that could give rise to a conflict of interest - such as a citizen's crusade against city hall - their private lives should not be up for discussion. 
"We really have to start by asking ourselves, what exactly has Justice Douglas done wrong?
"Based on what we know so far," said Ryder, "maybe she deserves our sympathy more than our condemnation, because it seems she has been the victim of an egregious invasion of privacy."
Yes. Thank you.


I'm on Sociological Images today! Check it out.