Category: feminism


Also this (suuuuuuuuch a big deal, go read it all): “If you have shamed something in yourself – like a normal need for intimacy – so early and so completely that you don’t even notice you are doing it, you will interpret that same need as shameful when you see it in others.”

Dating Tips for the Feminist Man

The opposite of masculine rape culture is masculine nurturance culture: men* increasing their capacity to nurture, and becoming whole.

The Ghomeshi trial is back in the news, and it brings violent sexual assault back into people’s minds and daily conversations. Of course violence is wrong, even when the court system for handling it is a disaster. That part seems evident. Triggering, but evident.

But there is a bigger picture here. I am struggling to see the full shape emerging in the pencil rubbing, when only parts are visible at a time.

A meme going around says ‘Rape is about violence, not sex. If someone were to hit you with a spade, you wouldn’t call it gardening.’ And this is true. But it is just the surface of the truth. The depths say something more, something about violence.

Violence is nurturance turned backwards.

These things are connected, they must be connected. Violence and nurturance are two sides of the same coin. I…

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I’m just gonna leave this here.
 

Ending Violence Against Native Women
From the Roots Up

So there’s this JAKEtalk (like a TEDtalk, but really gay) and I haven’t listened to it all the way through, because he opened his talk with a quotation about Gay Assimilation into the Het world, and then spoke briefly about the Queer Bubble, about increasing (ish?) acceptance of The Gay[1] in mainstream[2] society, and what that means, or could mean, when it comes to maintaining a Queer Identity when that identity is no-longer based on, or reliant upon, being The Other or being an Outsider.
 
Which seems very strange to me, at first blush, so I thought I’d ramble a bit and see if I can parse it out. (The JAKEtalk intro is being used as a jumping-off-point here, rather than this post being an actual response to anything in the JAKEtalk).
Onwards!
 
So, look. I’m a weirdo. I spent my teens and early 20s wearing All The Velvet and All The Eyeliner because (a) PRETTY!, but also because (b) I figured out fairly early on that, at 6’4”, there is no protective colouration that will make e look “normal”, so I might as well (i) wear what I actually like, and/or (ii) give them something to fucking stare at.
So I’m fairly well-versed in Identity As Defined By Otherness, even if it’s on the relatively shallow level of being an unusually shaped/sized cis chick. I’m pagan – in the “Bioregional Animism” and “Ancestor Veneration” senses of the word, rather than the more widely recognized “Wiccan Offshoots” sense of the word (thank you gods, for a country where we have “Freedom TO”-based freedom of religion), and I’m a poly, kinky bi-dyke femme. A lot of my personal identities/labels/shorthands-for-what-I-am are frequently explained by highlighting the ways that they contrast with more mainstream/normative/normalized identities.
BUT that doesn’t mean that my identities can’t exist without that opposition.
Being married to my wife doesn’t make me Not Queer. Or “not queer enough” for that matter.
One of my poly-leather family members once said (gods, lifetimes ago now, back when my wife and I hadn’t even been dating for six months yet) that being a “married queer” didn’t change the way that she built family, that she didn’t stop being poly (or kinky, or anti-o, or a TIFD) just because she was also a Nice Jewish Girl with a ring on her left finger.
This has stuck with me for years now.
 
I love my Bubble. My kinky, poly, trans-inclusive dyke bubble is awesome. But, specifically because it’s so awesome, I kind of wish 100% of humanity was in here with me. Not in here diluting the awesomeness with their hetcis-normative expectations, with their “stay out of my bathroom” and their “I don’t understand how that kind of relationship could be anything but abusive”, their “porn is the theory” and their “multiple concurrent relationships are a sign of emotional immaturity[3]”, their “you’re in love with your own oppression” and their “you just haven’t found the right man yet”… No. I mean I want 100% of humanity in here with our norms and ideals and social expectations[4] which, largely, boil down to “Your kink[5] is okay, whether or not it’s mine” and that the more options we have, and can put words around, the better.
 
I don’t think that we stop having our identities just because more people accept, normalize, and celebrate them.
 
My wife is not “less poly” just because her mother is happy to meet her many partners, and to have us in attendance for her 65th birthday. I’m not “less queer” just because my own gay auntie paved the way for me in our family, or because her parents responded with absolute love (I know, because she read the letter from them, responding to her coming-out letter, at my wedding) when she came out decades ago. My friends are not “less trans” because zir mom took zir shopping for more gender-appropriate clothing, or because her nieces call her their favourite auntie; and they’re not “less kinky” because they can talk about their desires and relationships with their vanilla friends.
We do not stop being what we are just because the Normal People still love us, or let us on the PTA, or look to us as part of our faith community. Being unwanted is not a prerequisite for being us.
 
It’s sucks beyond all possible measure that any of my poly friends have to keep coming out to their families-of-origin, have to worry about how said relatives are going to handle it when they bring their multiple people home for the holidays. It sucks beyond all possible measure that my family members have fam-of-o or (extended-community-members, for that matter – get with the program, y’all…) who keep getting their pronouns wrong even though it’s been YEARS since they came out. It sucks beyond all possible measure that any of my dyke Fam has to deal with out and out hatred as part of “being a good daughter”.
I know that we face this stuff, that our bubble is (our bubbles are) how we protect each other, hold each other up, keep each other safe, help each other heal. And I don’t want to lose the love that comes with building our own families in spite of the Charmed Circle wishing that we weren’t around being our fabulous, unapologetic selves “at” them. But we don’t have to lose it.
We don’t have to stop being big-hearted and open-hearted with each other just because we’re gaining the chance to be open-hearted with the people we came from, too.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms. Syren.
 
 
[1] Less-so The Trans, so let’s keep pushing for that one, shall we?
 
[2] Meaning heteronormative, cisnormative.
 
[3] TRY IT SOME TIME, I DARE YOU, KIDDO.
 
[4] Which, full disclosure: I ain’t perfect yet. None of us are. But I know where I’m going.
 
[5] Gender / family-structure / body / employment situation / sexual identity / etc – Choose your own adventure(s).

H’okay. So C279, which started out pretty decent, is getting worse and worse. Now they’re trying to ammend it so that trans people[1] would have to carry their surgery-status papers (wtf??) with them just to use a fucking bathroom. Um, hello? The whole point of the bill was to PROTECT the human rights of TRANS PEOPLE!
AUGH!!!
God. That hateful man’s granddaughter is in more danger from him – statistically, if for no other reason, since he’s an adult relative – than from some random perp who decided that jumping out from behind a bush was too passé and that going through the effort of dressing in drag is totally the new wave of victim-accosting[2].
Eugh.
 
Anyway. Thinking about this, and having read Jeana’s post about Indiana (where she lives), I’m starting to wonder what we can do in terms of checking with businesses (I’m thinking in particular public pools, spas, gyms, yoga studios, etc) locally regarding what their policies are.
While yes, in Ontario, trans people’s human rights are protected by Toby’s Law, and Provincial law does take presidence over Federal under these circumstances, (a) the law isn’t necessarily reliably upheld in, for example, court situations[4], and (b) it’s only Ontario. BC has a similar law[4], and so does the NWT, BUT outside of those jurisdictions, everyone else doesn’t even have a matchstick to hold up. As someone living on the border with another province, it would be really nice to be able (to pick a swanky example) to do an informal Dyke Day at Le Nordik without worrying that the trans women among us would be open to that much more potential harrassment.
 
So, here’s what I’m thinking: Let’s phone/email our local community centres, spas, gyms, etc and see who will pull a Planet Fitness and support trans people using their facilities and, therefore, who does (and, incidentally, who does not) deserve our money. Okay? Okay.
Go.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Which would disproportionately effect trans women and trans-fem-spectrum people, for all the usual reasons, which can be case-in-pointed by how the focus of these idiots trying to ruin C279 boils down the “ZOMG MAN in DRESS! My delicate masculinity is afeared[3]!”
 
[2] FFS. Look. The whole business where predators – rapists who rape adults, rapists who rape kids, you name it – “jump out from behind a bush” or “hide in a dark alley” or otherwise attack people who are not both already vulnerable AND known to them?… We’ve known that this is bullshit for AGES. Everyone knows that predators are lazy. Attacking a stranger in a bathroom or a locker room takes effort. It’s risky, in that public locker-rooms and rest-rooms are well-lit, typically well-populated, public places, and it’s risky in that most people in thse well-lit, well-populated public spaces aren’t already incapacitated in some way. It’s unlikely to work. Even without having to buy special clothes[1] to do it, it’s still WAY easier to attack someone who already trusts you, with-whom you have a visibly possitive, or at least social/familial, relationship, so that nobody will believe that you did it even IF your victim believes it themselves and starts telling people.
 
[3] Which I wish was as easy to laugh off as I’ve written it, but seriously, this is the root cause of the murder of SO MANY WOMEN. Another black, trans woman was murdred – by police, fyi – just yesterday. Her name was Mya Shawatza Hall (please read the whole thing).
 
[4] For “Reasons”, mostly, but also because “gender identity” and “gender expression” weren’t explicitely define and, as such, a given judge could theoretically choose to interpret the terms using a super-narrow, genitals/medical/surgical-based definition (as has been the case in BC, for example).

Hey there, everybody.
 
So this morning was full of a twitter discussion about what meds are contraindicated for Grapefruit (juice, but also the whole fruit). Pyke Barber dug up this handy list which, if you are on Anti-Depresants or Hormone Replacements of any kind (but also potentially a bunch of other meds that effect your brain) you should probably double-check about, if you don’t already know:
Grapefruit Effectiveness, Safety and Drug Interactions (RxList)
 
Other links of note:
Sophia Banks has this article about C279 and State-Sanctioned (and Perpetuated) Violence Against Trans Folks (esp Women).
 
Here’s an article from Xtra pertaining to C279 that you may want to check out (if you want to read all the hateful shit that comes out of Don Plett’s damn mouth, anyway…) and another one from HuffPo (that is slightly less awful to get through). Amnesty International is deeply unimpressed.
 
On a Sucktastically related note:
Sumaya Ysl, a black, trans, ballroom dancer from Toronto, was found dead last Sunday morning after being seen fleeing a man the night before.
 
If you are a writer of a womanly persuasion, you might considering submitting something to Bitch Magazine‘s “Blood and Guts” issue. Perhaps someone who knew Sumaya would like to submit a piece on intersectional violence? Maybe?
 
Eugh. And, this-just-in: Her Name was Melonie – Another Trans WoC Has Committed Suicide.
FFS. Hey, cis people, maybe we can all email Don Plett (again…) and tell him off for his abject failure to protect women and kids from violence? Let’s do that.
Note: When you email him? You’re going to get a shitty, condescending, mansplainy piece of bullshit back for your efforts. Do it anyway. What a hateful man. 😦

Gabrielle Fradet (25) was last seen at a home on County Road 7 in North Dundas Township on Friday, December 19, 2014. Police say she may frequent areas of #Kemptville and #Ottawa.
 
5’6″ and thin
blonde, shoulder-length hair
blue eyes
 
Possibly wearing blue jeans, a blue and white bomber style jacket and white boots.
 
If you have any information you’re asked to call OPP at 1-888-310-1122.
 

Gabrielle Fradet is described as 5’6″ and thin, with blonde, shoulder-length hair and blue eyes. She was possibly wearing blue jeans, a blue and white bomber style jacket and white boots.

To end violence against women, we must end violence against sexworkers.


 
Eleven days ago, I spent the morning tweeting the names of Murdered women. I did this for hours, and was nowhere near close to listing the thousands of women – cis women, trans women, black and indiginous women, women enrolled in a particular class at Polytechnique – who had been killed.
 
Today is International Day to End Violence Agaisnt Sexworkers. Usually, if people think about violence against sexworkers at all, they’re thinking of either (a) women whose bodies were pulled out of dumpsters – so actual people who were murdered, or (b) sensationalistic/titilating (sensationalistitilating?) stories about human trafficking[1].
 
These issues do matter. For sure. But they’re not the only types of violence that sexworkers experience. I appreciate the above infographic because it brings to light some of the other stuff – stuff that doesn’t necessarily result in death, and which typically doesn’t involve a starting point of coersion, but that limits people’s options and makes tenuous situations that much less stable.
Here, have a link to an Open Letter from Brazen Lee (who also provided the handy infographic, below).
 

 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Okay, here’s the thing about Human Trafficking: (1) It totally does actually happen. (2a) It happens far more frequently in the agricultural, construction, and home-labour (think: nannies, house-keepers) industries than it does in the sex industry, but (2b) you never hear about those situations because they don’t involve sex, or the combination of sex and violence, that is so damn titilating in our culture. Likewise, they don’t play into, or uphold, dominant cultural narratives about sex being something that men do to (or commit against?) women – who are typically coded as passive and victimizable. (3) There’s an entire industry – and I’m using that word deliberately – around “rescuing” women from sexwork. “Rescue organizations” tend to rely on inaccurate & inflated (And, sometimes, just plain false) statistics in order to secure their funding, and they tend not to work towards anything that will actually help people in the sex industry transition to different careers. Things that would actually help: Building affordable housing; working to make access to mental health care easier; pressuring businesses to end discriminatory hiring practices around things like race, immigration status, and gender identity; working to promote the decriminalizing sexwork; Pressuring provincial governments to increase the minimum wage to something where a person working *part time* (because most minimum wage jobs are part-time, and because people who – for mental and physical health reasons, or single-parenthood reasons, can’t work full-time sometimes turn to sexwork – where you can make a week’s minimum-wages in an hour – to make sure the bills are paid) could still make rent and afford food & utilities at the same time; Provide reliable, trans-inclusive shelter for both youth and adults fleeing abusive home-situations… The list goes on, but there are some suggestions.

First up:
If you would like to support people arrested in Ferguson, please donate here.
If you would like to support sexworkers’ fight to get Bill C-36 struck from the books as soon as possible on the grounds of its blatant unconstitutionality, please donate here.
If you would like to support Indiginous people fighting legal battles against Kinder Morgan and the proposed pipeline through Burnaby Mountain, please donate here (this one’s not an indiegogo campaign).
 
New Brunswick abortion restriction lifted by Premier Brian Gallant – Hurrah! 😀
 
A Variety of Posts Relating To Sexwork:
Bill C-36’s negative impact on racialized and migrant sex workers.
Remembering Stone Butch Blues‘ Pledge to Sexworkers.
Why Feminism Needs Sex Workers and Trans People.
 
On a completely different note, you can find music by awesome pianist & musicologist Dana Baitz here (music compilation ft all trans performers), here (lgbt spoken word), and here (Dana’s reverbnation page). Enjoy!

If you’re in Canada and would like to do something at least slightly concrete to support trans human rights here (or, heck, even if you’re NOT in Canada but would like to lend your support), particularly given that today is Trans Day of Remembrance, here’s something you can do:
 
Right now, Bill C-279 (read the whole Bill here) is in Committee, and has been since June 2014.
The bill, as drafted, will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination as well as amending the Criminal Code to include gender identity as a distinguishing characteristic protected under section 318 and as an aggravating circumstance to be taken into consideration under section 718.2 at the time of sentencing (both of these sections pertain to hate crimes).
 
This is not the first time a private member has put forth a bill to protect the human rights of trans people in Canada. I would personally appreciate it if the bill actually made it through and became law this time.
 
To that end, I encourage you all to take part in PSAC’s letter-writing campaign and email members of the senate (PSAC offers this list, along with a handy letter-template to help you out) urging them to support C-279 as currently drafted and to pass it with all speed.
PSAC’s list also includes the few senators who have twitter handles and/or facebook pages, so that you can contact them through those channels as well[1].
 
Okay. Some of you are going to be thinking “What the heck good is this going to do?” when being race and sex are already protected under the human rights code and yet the majority of people who are remembered at TDoR are women of colour. And that’s a really valid question.
Trans activist Morgan M. Page points out that:
 

“TDOR is about the combination of three factors: transmisogyny, racism, whorephobia. Across the board, those we remember on TDOR were trans women of colour engaged in sex work. This tells us where our activism needs to be. We need another day to mourn those we lose to suicide, illness, and neglect.”

 
Writing letters in support of Bill C-279 will help put legislation in place that will mitigate microagressions like employers refusing to let someone work front-of-house at their job. It will also mitigate more macro discriminations like doctors refusing to prescribe day-to-day meds due to “discomfort”. Legislation like what’s proposed by C-279 is definitely important. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
 
Other things you can do (a list collected from a couple of folks on Facebook):
– Support sex workers rights – Sex workers need to work safely and be protected by legislation instead of being targeted and criminalized.
– Support anti-racism programs & actions – PoC face much higher rates of police & state violence (both in the immediate, physical sense and in the legislative sense).
– Support mental illness and suicide intervention programs – Trans people have much higher risks for mental illness and suicide.
– Support youth homelessness programs – Because breaking the cycle of parental abandonment and youth poverty can completely change people’s lives.
 
 
Thanks,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] EDIT: FYI, and not that this is going to shock anybody[2], but when you write to Don Plett, you’ll probably get a slimy, condescending reply dripping with enough ignorance and transmisogyny to make you want to fucking scream before the end of the third paragraph. So, y’know. Forewarned is forearmed…
 
[2] Except, apparently, me – who figured he’d at least have the sense to keep his bigotry really vague in any reply he chose to make.
 
 
Votive Candles in the Dark

So I wrote a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne with regards to bill #C36 and what she can do to protect her sexworking constituents and make sure these laws, too, gets struck down as soon as humanly possible.
 
A lot of people are doing this – hard copy letters, emails, even tweets – and it’s a bit of an informal campaign at this point.
There’s a templete available here if you’d like to write to your provincial/territorial Premier on the same subject.
You may also find some inspiration in Nikki Thomas’s impassioned open letter to Kathleen Wynne – I know I did. Likewise, POWER’s press release on the subject of C36 may offer further insights.
 
You can probably find a contact form or appropriate email address by googling “Office of the Premier” + your province or territory. That’s how I found Kathleen Wynne’s contact information.
 

Sexworkers are not “disposable people”. They are not “non-people” either. They have agency and they have rights, the same as everyone else in this province and in this country. Their lives matter and that doesn’t stop just because someone with a lot of power finds their work distasteful. (Me)

 

Please refer this bill immediately to the Ontario Court of Appeal for a constitutional reference, and do not pursue prosecutions until they determine its constitutionality. (Nikki Thomas)

 

Red Umbrella Image:
Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs