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Archive for August, 2011

I’ve been trying to convince my friend to start a blog, with no success. I thought it would be a fun way for her to keep up her writing skills (she is an excellent writer) and to share her adventures as a medical student in Long Island, NY. Plus, she’s pretty hilarious, and always seems to have a funny story to share, which I think she could translate really well into blog-format. But it looks like she’s a no go. She did however, give consent for me to write about her shenanigans…

Now, being a med school student, you might expect, let’s call her A, to have a few basic qualities that we may (or may not) find in doctors: a good communicator, intellectual, empathetic, realistic, logical, and generally a person who does not procrastinate and is on the ball with things. Well, she is…uhhh…smart! Yes, she is intellectual. Umm, she is also… let’s see… she’s VERY smart. Yup!

So with Hurricane Irene knocking on her front door, A decided she should probably take a few precautions to prepare for the worst… the day of the storm:

  • She took her car to 3 gas stations before finding one that hadn’t sold out.
  • She visited the Dollar Store to buy candles in case of a power outage, but was too late, and was only able to buy ONE candle, which was shaped like a baby’s shoe (my guess is that while she now has a candle, it is unlikely she owns matches or a lighter in the event that she would need to light the candle).
  • And while she has water stored up, she has hardly any food.

The day prior to the storm, when it was still gloriously sunny outside, A was let out from work at the hospital early. Clearly taking advantage of this time, A watched the weather channel, made a trip to Wendy’s for food, and fell asleep early. Though to her credit, A also spent 2 of those hours talking to me on the phone, listening to me bitch about life and my hatred for Hurricane Irene (which ruined my trip to visit her).

A‘s approach to Hurricane Irene and impending danger was not what you might expect from a soon-to-be doctor. But A has always managed to land on her feet, despite her procrastinating ways. I have no doubts that if Hurricane Irene tries to mess with her, A will find a way to give the storm the run around.

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Feministing, “I should not be billed for my rape kit”
Republican Govenor Chris Christie of New Jersey is stalling on his review of legislature that will no longer bill victims of sexual violence for services directly associated with forensic examinations. Not sure why Govenor Christie needs to think about whether it is appropriate for victims of sexual violence to re-live the trauma by essentially paying for the investigation into their own assault.

Guardian, “A diet book for six-year-old girls: the worst idea ever?”
In short, yes, worst idea ever. Maggie Goes on a Diet, tells the story of Maggie, 14 years old, who goes on a diet. Yes, that is the plot. The best part? The book is listed as appropriate for children ages 6-12. I know that when I have children, I’m going to buy them all this book for their 6th birthdays, so they all have a great chance at developing eating disorders and body image and self-esteem issues.

Feministe, “That’s an interesting definition of ‘victim’ you’ve got there”
Nabil Samaan claims that his brother, Mourad ‘Moni’ Samaan, was a victim of a broken family court system. Mourad and his ex-wife Marcia Fay, were fighting for custody of their 2-year-old daughter. The couple clearly had issues, because they had never been in agreement about their daughters’ name: Madeline Layla Samaan-Fay (the Samaan family wanted her first name Layla, while the Fay family wanted it Madeline). So, to settle things once and for all, Mourad shot and killed his daughter and then killed himself. Mourad’s brother, Nabil, states: “I think he did the right thing. I’m proud of my brother and now he’s in a better place. He’s at peace. His daughter’s at peace. She’ll have one name now, and we can move on. And hopefully the court will learn a little thing about justice.” Are you fucking kidding me?

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As Carly Weeks of the Globe and Mail stated: “Jack Layton didn’t lose a fight: He died of cancer”. It was us, Canadian citizens, who lost. We lost a great leader, a man of values and dreams, a dedicated and beloved politician, an iconic moustache.

After hearing the news that Jack Layton had died this morning, I felt a great sadness, which actually then led to feeling kind of angry. I felt angry with Canadians for not catching ‘orange-fever’ earlier, giving Jack a better chance at leading the NDP party into power. I felt angry that so many people continue to die from cancer, from other diseases, from poverty, from abuse. I was tempted to blog in this fashion, letting my outrage pour onto the screen.

But later in the evening, a vlog post by a good friend of mine put this situation into a bit of perspective for me.  Though the context was slightly different, the message was clear: while I could write something angry, I should focus instead on the courage, love, and inspiration Jack brought out in all of us. Love and hope, not hate or distress. Thanks Tom!

It was truly beautiful and bittersweet to see the response of Canadians to the loss of Jack Layton:


The letter Jack Layton wrote to Canadians was direct, optimistic, moving, and ridiculously beautiful. Read it if you haven’t done so already. In particular, the section dedicated to young Canadians was incredible, and really spoke to me:

“To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.”

Mr Layton, you were an inspiring leader for my generation, and you will be missed. Thank you for reminding us that change is possible.

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Not quite sure where I found this, but it was quite some time ago, posted by some brilliant VAW-worker no doubt. Of course it is still relevant today, and it’s just as important as ever to remember that women are told and advised to avoid these situations ALL THE TIME (our parents warning us to keep watch over our drinks, to not walk anywhere alone, etc). But does it not make so much more sense for men to just NOT do any of these things? Anyway, it is a witty approach to preventing sexual assault that will give you a laugh.

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Sexual Assault Prevention Tips For Men – Guaranteed To Work!

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in a lift and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

7. When you lurk in bushes and doorways with criminal intentions, always wear bright clothing, wave a flashlight, or play “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)” by the Raveonettes on a boombox really loud, so women in the vicinity will know where to aim their flamethrowers.

8. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you when lurking in shadows.

9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to rape a woman, you can hand the whistle to your buddy, so s/he can blow it to call for help.

10. Give your buddy a revolver, so that when indifferent passers-by either ignore the rape whistle, or gather round to enjoy the spectacle, s/he can pistol-whip you.

11. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be raping her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.

In other words, the best way to prevent rape is to not rape anybody.

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love love love for this feminist boy

 

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Like with most world events, I am usually a little late on the uptake. I don’t watch the News, I rarely read the newspaper, and even though I follow BBC World News on Twitter, they sometimes tweet SO much that I skip over their posts. But eventually I catch on and get myself up to date.

The 2011 England Riots began a few days ago, and if you want to know the basics, go read what Wikipedia has to say.

Most people, both within and outside Britain, are condemning the riots as senseless, gang-related looting and violence that is without cause or justification. But this view fails to consider the broader social context, and instead looks to place blame on the easy targets: gang culture, crime, unemployed rebellious youth, etc. These are scapegoats for the real problems (though I am aware that these factors did play a role in the riots, I believe they were just one part of larger issues).

On March 26 of this year, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) organized the March for the Alternative, an anti-cuts protest held in London. Apparently unable to get a fairly accurate figure, sources estimate that between 250,000 to 500,000 people showed up to the demonstration in protest against planned public spending cuts by their government.

Hmmm… is this ringing any bells?

This article by Nina Power looks at the social unrest within Britain, and goes into a great explanation of the protests. Have a read! It touches on unemployment, lack of police accountability, police brutality and racism, poverty and class tensions.

Now, I am a firm believer that violence does not solve anything. Therefore, the looting, harm, and murder that has resulted from the England Riots is not something I support. What I do believe in however, is the courage, commitment, passion and rebelliousness these Brits have shown.

Here I sit, unemployed, hating on the Mayor of Toronto for cutting funding to social services (and hence contributing to my unemployment BIG TIME), and I kinda want to take a lesson from those Brits and start a riot of my own. Maybe run up and down Bay Street banging a drum and yelling out chants of shame on Ford for threatening public libraries (not pushing, looting, or hurting anyone of course). Or maybe start my own anti-cuts collective/gang, customize t-shirts, and loiter en masse (respectfully) outside City Hall.

Then again, haven’t Torontonians already done all this? So what’s next?

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A friend of mine sent me the link to this wonderful site jam-packed full of documentaries. Old. New. Short. Long. Every topic you can imagine. One of the most popular docs at the moment, is ‘The Perfect Vagina’. I had to see what this perfect vagina was all about…

Turns out that loads upon loads of women are unhappy with the visual appearance of their vaginas, and are going for surgery to alter the shape/size of the inner labia, so it does not ‘hang’ below the outer labia. This procedure is known as labiaplasty, and as a business it has skyrocketed over the past few years. So a woman named Lisa Rogers decided to investigate the growing trend in the UK, where, according to “the British Medical Journal, they said the number of ‘labial reductions’ carried out in National Health Service hospitals had doubled to 800 a year over five years” (Reuters article).

The UK in fact, has deemed this recent rise in labiaplasty as a “demand for designer vaginas”. Really? DESIGNER VAGINAS. Just wait… wait for it… give it a few years… soon enough, Gucci will release their sketch/model for the PERFECT GUCCI VAGINA. You can buy, for the right price, a fully-certified Gucci-fied vagina! And guess what? You will even be able to choose the colour, size, and location of your Gucci tattoo (though it must appear somewhere on the vagina of course, because everyone who visits your lady-bits must be made aware that it is the product of Gucci).

Check out the documentary ‘The Perfect Vagina’. What do you think about this trend? Is it a tool of empowerment for women to gain a sense of confidence and control over their bodies and their sexuality? Or is it yet another tool designed by the patriarchal system for the male gaze to pressure women to perpetually slice and dice their bodies to achieve the highly-sexualized and idealized body of a 12-year-old girl?

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