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Normally, when I write about cooking, I’m doing it over at Urban Meliad (the food-gardening-religion blog). But this particular subject also has a lot to do with gender (and gender expectations, and social norms) and class – or at least income, which in this neck of the woods amounts to more or less the same thing, so it’s being put over here.
See, over at NorthWest Edible Life, Erica has a post up on The Ethics of Dinner. Apparently, Amanda Marcotte wrote a very short piece about home-cooked meals, gender expectations, and the burden of The Second Shift that so typically and frequently falls to women. And then Joel Salatin wrote a response wherein he both upheld the importance of cooking from scratch and eating meals together (which gets a thumbs up from me), but also dismissed Amanda Marcotte’s legit critique as nothing but “whining” (how condescending can you get?).
Here’s the thing: Joel Salatin is a good farmer. He knows what he’s doing. And I’m totally willing to cut a guy some slack for leaving all the cooking and processing of household food to his wife and daughter-in-law when he’s the one out raising and harvesting the animals and plants that the women in his life are then cooking and preserving. But he’s also a Conservative-Christian Libertarian, and that particular worldview frequently comes with an absolute refusal to acknowledge wide-spread and socially-based conditions that effect the situations of any particular individual. It’s an attitude that believes people are poor because (a) they’re not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps the way they should be, and/or (b) they’re clearly just squandering their money on cigarettes, flat screen TVs, and gossip magazines (as if rich people don’t squander their money on exactly the same crap, wtf), and it’s an attitude that leads to statements like this one (made by Joel in his response):
 

[…]Since when are women the only ones who are supposed to shoulder the burden for integrity food?

 
Sorry, Joel, but as much as I approve of a world where it’s socially normal – not just a lip-service idea of “expectation” but actually normal – for het dudes who live with their partners to routinely cook, clean, and parent even while sick or sleep-deprived just because it has to get done and not because someone else isn’t around to do it that day… that world does not describe any kind of wide-spread North American reality.
I wish it did.
I think we’d be living on a very different continent if that were the case.
But the fact is that domestic work – child care, elder care, cooking, cleaning, mending, preserving – is heavily gendered as “women’s work”, and has been the case for pretty much all of recorded history in most parts of the world. The fact is that this work is also deeply undervalued – in terms of whether or not it’s okay to pay for it[1], in terms of who’s doing the work when it is paid work, and in terms of how frequently that work is taken for granted or rendered invisible[2] when it’s not done for a paycheque – is directly tied to the fact that men (typically) don’t do it, or aren’t expected to do it – at least not for free. The “private sphere” and the work that goes on there-in has been valued less and less since the first Industrial Revolution led a lot of men to jobs-for-money outside the home and it’s within this culture, this particular set of norms and values, that yes, actually, women are, if not the only ones expected to shoulder the burden of finding and preparing “integrity food”, certainly the ones assumed by default to bear that responsibility.
 
Please understand me: I, too, believe really strongly that cooking from scratch is an amazing way to save money while also eating better quality food, and that eating together in an absence of cell phones (ye gods) is an important and necessarily way to keep one’s family – whatever its configuration – connected and strong. But I think that preaching the gospel of the kitchen[3] without recognizing both that (a) people’s circumstances totally effect the degree to-which they can do this, and (b) that a surrounding culture that lionizes workaholism and treats any household with more (or fewer) than two adults as “weird” or “non-normative” (despite evidence to the contrary)… is ignorant, frankly.
 
In Joel’s response, he writes that Great Grandma split wood, fetched water, cooked on a fire-box stove, and still managed to feed a large family… and he’s right. My great grandmothers did all of those things (well, most of them – I suspect my paternal grandmother’s mother had The Help to cover off most of that stuff). But they also weren’t doing it alone. They had sons and husbands splitting the firewood and slaughtering those home-raised pasture-fed animals rather than buying them with income that had to come from somewhere else. They had sisters and daughters on hand to help pull together those meals-for-twenty as well as to watch the kids, and the kids were fetching the water from the spring. They had household staff or farm-hands to help manage it all, too, some of them (and the people who were the household staff? Well, they’ve been relying on prepared foods for at least 200 years now, so it’s not exactly a new thing under the sun).
These days…
I look at my over-worked friends, the ones who earn the lion’s share of the household income, then bullet home to do the lion’s share of the parenting and the cooking as well; the ones who feel guilty about asking The Grandparents to watch the kids for a day just so Mom can have a few hours to get the chaos under control at home, or who are nervous about asking for that help too often lest it be withdrawn entirely; the ones who are ashamed to be paying someone else to do the vacuuming because they feel Less Than for needing the help, or because it’s an expensive reminder that the spouse at home isn’t providing that help as part of the deal that is Partnership; the ones who rely on prepared foods – whether from the shawarma joint on the corner or the yuppie-hippie Food Shoppe on Hipster Street – because the only time they will have to themselves all day long is the walk to the store and back to pick up dinner.
That’s not the situation that my Great Nan was dealing with (except, possibly, the lack of time to oneself). The situation my Great Nan was in was probably closer to that of the Poly Triad with two working-for-incomes parents and a third one who is at home, doing lots of cooking and greeting the kids when they get off the school bus; or those who, while being single working moms, are part of a tightly knit and closely located (this is key) community who can be called upon for emergency baby-sitting when needed; or maybe to the situation I’m in, where working from home lets me multi-task in productive ways – cooking from scratch in between laundry and freelance writing pieces, for example, or picking up groceries at a leisurely pace (and in an uncrowded grocery store whose lack of line-ups means that I’m probably home faster than I would be with a car if I were grocery shopping during rush hour) on my walk home from a modeling gig – where cooking is a joy, not a stressor, because I have all the time in the world in-which to do it and because my hard-working-for-the-money spouse is both always appreciative of my wacky dinner concoctions and recognizes the value of someone providing that labour, free of charge, and on a tight budget.
 
I can made due with limited funds because I have tonnes of time. I don’t have little mouths to feed, and I don’t need to worry about squeezing dinner in before an 8pm bed-time. I don’t need to worry about whether or not the adults whom I routinely feed will refuse to eat what I’ve cooked and, instead, demand a burrito (and, frankly, even if they do, they can pick it up and pay for it their own damn selves, so it’s rather less skin off my back should that ever be the case) or be super cranky for the rest of the night. I have the hours (and occasionally days) it takes to prepare and slow-cook a tough (and therefore less expensive) cut of meat and a mess of root veggies, or to preserve fruits and veggies while they’re in seasons (and therefore cheap, or at least cheaper, to buy). When I’m working full time, however, I too rely on prepared foods – BBQ’d pork, chicken-in-a-dome, frozen lasagna, pre-diced squash – to cut down on prep time and tend to fall back on tried-and-true combinations purely because my inspiration has been drained away at whatever day-job I’m working, and I don’t necessarily know what I have on hand to work with.
 
Amanda’s piece about how cooking is seen as a burden primarily because it is one… is true. For many, many people (many, many of them women), cooking is both a basic skill of resilience (as Erica Strauss has put it) and an added element of stress that, unlike the stress of having kids or the stress of house-based chaos or the stress of arguing with your spouse because you’re both stressed out about the kids and the house-based chaos… can be easily avoided. I understand why so many people take the out when it’s offered, even as I’m incredibly glad that I don’t have to.
 
Someone posted an article to facebook the other day, someone writing about how sick they are of hearing about French (as in France) kids and how they eat healthy meals and love vegetables and are oh-so-much-healthier than kids in the US because of it… without those Praise The French folks looking at the cultural context that facilitates this apparent love of the green stuff.
 
In frugal-foodie world – you know, the one I live in – I hear a lot about how “the American way of life” (and, as a Canadian, I’m aware that my own culture is dealing with similar stuff) is all about eating take-out at our desks or drive-through on the way home, and how it’s How We Eat that’s making us sick and destroying the planet at the same time.
While I think there’s definitely something to this, I also think the reality is rather mor of “the American way of life” being one that glorifies 14-hour work days, scoffs at sick-leave (have you ever picked up a package of cough drops and read the awful little guilt-trips written all over the wrappers and passed off as “pep talks”? They’re appalling!) let alone vacation time, insists on hiring the lowest bidder (see: internships), offers “flex time” to workers but really means “be on call for us every hour of every day”, and generally under-values humanity on many levels… Within that context, the time, energy, and attention needed to cook from scratch, and with good ingredients, is hard to come by and often written off as frivolous – as “hobby time” or “a luxury for the wealthy” or as one more thing for-which to criticize women (“Oh yeah? And who exactly is watching the kids while you play suzy home-maker in the kitchen???”) or whatever.
 
It’s not. But as long as those obstacles of time-pressure and money are weighing on so many of us, as long as cooking-for-pleasure (and, as such, cooking as pleasurable activity) is being pitted against the idea that Good Women, and inparticular good mothers, are martyrs who would never be so selfish as to take time for themselves, as long as those are still the case, then cooking-as-fun will continue to be treated as a nice-to-have or an extra (but, girl, you’d better be remorseful about when you’re failing to put three from-scratch meals on the table every day!) and that attitude will continue to be used to uphold the cultural status quo, to keep us chained to our wage-labours and our guilty consciences at the expense of everything that matters.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Both in terms of “Should I expect to pay money for this service, because it’s a valuable thing that I want done” and in terms of “What does my paying someone else to provide this service say about me and how well I’m living up to the expectations to-which people of my gender are commonly held?”
 
[2] See “Counting for Nothing” by Marion Waring for more on that subject.
 
[3] A fairly literal thing for me, as a kitchen witch, and a Pagan for-whom food (the growing of it, the harvesting, the preparing, and the sharing there-of) has some seriously religious connotations.

Originally posted on The Dish:

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

knox

Last night, a close friend told me he had been reading my posts about decriminalizing sex work. “I’m sympathetic,” he said, “and I want to agree with you. But I just keep thinking, ‘what if it were my daughter?’ That’s, like, every father’s worst nightmare.”

My friend doesn’t have a daughter, to be clear. He’s also one of the most sexually liberal people I know. But while his attitude does discourage me, it doesn’t surprise me. This is the sexist culture we live in—one where a man whom I know has had sex with at least three different women in the past week can literally imagine nothing worse for his hypothetical daughter than getting paid to have sex.

Damon Linker trots out similar sentiment at The Week today. Using his apparent mind-reading powers, he asserts that no one could honestly be okay with having a child in porn:

People may…

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Okay, so as-you-know-bob, I have this pet theory – based on not a whole lot, I admit – that many of the people who are Wired for polyamory in the sense that they Just Don’t Get Jealous are possibly coming to it from a place of Insecure-Avoidant attachment styles and the need to always have an escape route available. That said, not everybody who goes “Poly! It’s what’s for breakfast!” is going to attach in an insecure-avoidant way. A lot of us – self very, very much included – are insecure-anxious attachment types who are terrified of Being Abandoned, and carry around a secret (or not-so-secret) fear that the only reason anyone is hanging out with us is because someone better hasn’t come along yet.
And today, I kind of want to talk about making the switch from Monogamy to Polyamoury (where “Polyamoury” means the whole spectrum of consensual non-monogamy), as an insecure-anxious person, when the only road map I’ve ever had has been the one for Monogamy. View full article »

So… Being a kinky dyke, I’m kind of swimming in safer sex stuff all the time. Which doesn’t mean that I and others don’t screw things up on occasion. I’ve mopped up the last traces of blood play after taking my gloves off, for example. I’ve had unprotected sex with a hook-up in my early 20s, and I’m aware that fluid bonding, while it’s a harm-reduction method, isn’t necessarily as safe-making as we’d like to think it is. I’ve known more than one woman who accidentally got her girlfriend pregnant because, contrary to popular belief, T-blockers aren’t a particularly effective form of birth control. (Maybe someone who’s on them can shoot me some stats about that?)
 
None the less, I tend to forget that us Queerdos get a LOT more safer-sex-ed targetted at us as adults than the het population does. Which is… funny, really, given how much hetero sex is the default assumption, particularly during one’s teens when that’s all you get in school (and everywhere, but really: school).
Anyway. With all of the above in mind, here’s a little tiny bit of local information that may be relevant to Ottawa people’s interests:
 
Places where You Can Get Free Condoms (and other barrier protection) + not-so-free Emergency Contraception:
 
The AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) – will GIVE you roll-on condoms, insertable condoms, and dams if you just go in an ask. BYO trick-or-treat bag. :-) It’s at 251 Bank St, between Cooper and Lisgar, on the 7th floor.
 
Planned Parenthood Ottawa will give you free roll-on condoms and cheap/free insertable condoms. Not sure if they’ve got dams or not. They may have emergency contraception (2-pill version) available at reduced rates, but call to make sure. They’re on Riverside, just off Bank.
 
Community Health Centres (link goes to a list of Ottawa CHCs) routinely make roll-on condoms available free-for-the-taking in their rest rooms and/or by request.
 
The Sexual Health Centre at 179 Clarence will hand out free condoms and has Plan B (specifially that brand) available. They can also do IUD insertion and may have hormonal (I think) contraception available at reduced cost if you qualify.
 
If you are under 25 and street involved, the Youth Services Bureau on Besserer St, near the Redeau Centre, has a couple of regular sexual health clinic-nights (via Ottawa Public Health) and also has safer sex supplies – including latex dams + roll-on and insertable condoms – available through their HIV/HepC Prevention Education Program and their Youth Health Clinic.
 
Call your neighbourhood pharmacy to ask if they have over-the-counter (2-pill method) emergency contraception available (assume $35-$40/dose).
 
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD TO THE ABOVE LIST.
 
RELATED: Here is a handy cartoon that explains how Emergency Contraception works.
 
 
STI Testing:
The Sexual Health Clinic at 179 Clarence Street can do rapid, anonymous HIV testing, plus tests for All The Things – although most of them will take up to three weeks to get results.
 
Ottawa Sexual Health has a number of satelite clinics (include youth-specific and gay-men-specific ones) around town, the list of-which is available about 1/3 of the way down this page. They offering confidential STI testing though not specifically “rapid” or “annonymous” HIV testing.
 
Your local CHC will also do STI testing but, depending on your risk level and how many tests you want done, they may suggest that you go to the Sexual Health Clinic (E.G.: If you are “low risk” and want a batery of tests for Peace of Mind reasons, you may want to just go straight to Clarence Street).
 
PEPPost-Exposure Prophylaxis – is available at an emergency room near you and can be obtained – sometimes with difficulty, so don’t take No for an answer – if you are worried that you may have been exposed to HIV.
 
 
Abortions, Carrying To Term, and Other Stuff:
 
The Morgentaler Clinic – covered by OHIP, among other things.
 
Sister Zeus – An online compendium of fertility-related Herbal Stuff that may be of interest to you or people you know. NOTE: You may wish to consult your doctor, if you want to go this route as, iirc, measurements aren’t particularly exact. (Check and see, I could be wrong).
 
If you are pregnant and want to carry to term, you might want to talk to some of the many midwives in the Ottawa area. Or go with an Ob/Gyn, that works, too. :-)
 
The Ottawa Fertility Centre has a page about acquiring sperm if you want to get pregnant but don’t have a donor/co-parent involved already.

syrens:

So, uh, this happened in New Orleans…

Originally posted on And the stones shall cry:

This past Sunday, something pretty scary happened at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans (First UUNO).  Operation Save America, a fundamentalist anti-abortion organization that is known for descending upon abortion clinics and making life a living hell for anyone coming or going, chose to land in one of our congregations.  Several members of OSA showed up at First UUNO as if there to attend worship, and during the service stood up and began verbally accosting the worshippers and pushing anti-abortion pamphlets into their hands.

I don’t think they were prepared for what followed.  That Sunday, First UUNO was commissioning the College of Social Justice youth leaders who had been gathering all week.  The youth leaders immediately circled in and began singing.  Rev. De Vandiver, a New Orleans-based Community Minister who was leading worship that morning, asked the protesters to please respect the worship space and if they couldn’t…

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So there’s this article up on Salon right now, talking about polyamoury’s age-old bugaboo, jealousy, and how one poly triad handles theirs.
In addition to talking about “transitivity” (which is fascinating, particularly when considered in conjunction with things like the annual Phamily Reunion that is Unholy Harvest), the author goes into some theories about where the whole idea that “jealousy is a problem that originates within the individual and so must be handled by that individual” comes from. She links it to the 20th Century (“Industrial”, “Modern”, “Capitalist”, etc) idealization/lionization of The Individual. Which I admit is a neat way to look at it if you want to situate polyamoury in opposition to a system (see: Nuclear Family) of isolation, alienation and the resulting anxiety that can be used to, ah, encourage people to buy a lot of stuff they don’t really need to buy. (Although her brief segue into class analysis is also kind of fascinating – again in the context of Queer Leather Tribe with its working class and broke-ass-chosen-family roots). View full article »

Originally posted on National Post | Full Comment:

Who’d have thought that hookers have more integrity than some politicians? A great many of you probably — and you’d be right.

Honourable members may or may not be more prone than the average person to seeking comfort in the arms of representatives of the oldest profession.

They certainly have more opportunity than most, being away from home and spouses for long periods of time. Some of the current cohort have succumbed to temptation and are well known to local prostitutes, according to the sex workers themselves.

“This is Ottawa, so of course people are talking. I’ll leave it at that,” said Frederique Chabot, a representative of POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa/Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist).

Some of those MPs are Conservatives, who are also in favour of criminalizing the purchase of sex — a position that would appear to require a considerable degree of moral contortion to reconcile.

[related_links /]

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Originally posted on andrea366:

Beyond the Pros and Cons of Trigger Warnings: Collectivizing Healing
Andrea Smith

When I used to work as an anti-violence crisis counselor full-time, a counselor in another agency confided in me that she was currently being battered by her partner. She did not want anyone to know, however, because she feared losing her job. “People won’t think I have my act together enough to be in this movement if they know what I am going through,” as she explained why she did not think she could tell anyone. She was part of an anti-violence movement that she did not feel would support her. She had to address this violence on her own.

I was part of a larger collective that organized human rights/legal training for Native boarding school survivors. Frequently, survivors would drive literally hundreds of miles to attend at considerable expense because they really wanted this information. But when…

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syrens:

And there’s more! Elizabeth Dussault discusses the mess that is C-36.

Originally posted on Metro News:

An Edmonton sex worker told a House of Commons standing committee on the new prostitution law Wednesday that the proposed bill has a long way to go to help sex workers across the country.

Elizabeth Dussault—who spoke as part of Prostitutes Involved, Empowered, Cogent—Edmonton (PIECE) via video conference on Wednesday— said the bill needs more research so that sex workers can get “the respect they deserve.”

“What will come if this bill passes will be disastrous and dangerous, further unleashing opportunities for fear, abuse, neglect, increased exploitation and of course, more death,” she said.

Fired from her two jobs at brothels and her lifeguarding job for “being an advocate,” Dussault said the bill will further force individuals in the sex trade to hide.

As reported first byMetro Edmonton, Dussault had been a local sex worker for almost five years after starting in the industry while living in Australia.

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Hi again, folks.
It’s been that kind of a week.
 
My first link isn’t actually about C-36. It’s about street harassment and the policing of women’s bodies, sexuality, and freedom of movement. It Matters. I appreciate the author’s recognition that, when “hooker” is used to police a woman’s… existence outside of a home or outside of the accompaniment of a man… it reinforces the societal position that hookers are shameful and disposable. I also appreciate that the author, who is in the UK (I think), added links to the bottom of her post so that her readers could find out about C-36 and what it means.
 
The next one is from the CBC, discussing the lack of clarity within the proposed bill itself.
 
Third up, we have this article from the Globe and Mail pertaining to the lack of any response from the rest of the Conservative Party when Gauguen asked his appalling question about “freedom of expression”.
 
The last one comes from Impact Ethics, and offers a critical assesment of the proposed bill from the PoV of both former sex worker Kerry Porth and policy expert Genevieve Fuji Johnson.