Tag Archive: Gender


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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Someone I still love did this to me.

Dating Tips for the Feminist Man

There are two kinds of boundary violations: overt and covert.

We know a lot about one half of boundary violations: the kind acted out in an anxious way.

This first kind of boundary violation is hopefully already obvious. This is when you say no, or are unable to consent, and someone goes ahead and touches you anyway. This is the kind of boundary violation that occurs when someone touches your body when you are drunk, or are unconscious, or are drugged, or do not say an enthusiastic yes, or your body language communicates trauma, fear or hesitation and someone goes ahead anyway.

It is the kind of boundary violation when men insist that we smile for them on the street, or smile before they will give us our food at a restaurant, or when they insist we talk to them and placate them and flirt with them when…

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Hey!
So a friend of mine is looking to get 200 Ontario Trans folks to participate in the TransForming Justice legal needs assessment survey [EDIT: Survey closes on or before September 30th, 2016, afaik. /EDIT]
 
The following is taken directly from the needs assessment website and/or the survey itself (emphasis is mine, though), which is available in English and French, and which you can download to preview the questions and/or fill out by hand, OR complete online:
 

Transforming Justice is a research project to help document the legal needs of trans* people in Ontario, identify access to justice barriers that trans* people face, and determine the needs of legal service providers (lawyers and paralegals) to provide more informed and inclusive services for trans* clients.
Given that HIV can also effect access to justice issues, a specific component of the project is examining access to justice issues experienced by trans* people living with or impacted by HIV.
We are collecting data using a survey for trans* people, one-on-one interviews for trans* people living with HIV, and focus groups for trans* people, including specific focus groups for Trans* People of Colour/Racialized Trans* people, First Nations, Metis, or Inuit Trans*/Two-Spirit People, and Trans* People living with or impacted by HIV. We are also collecting data from Legal Service Providers through focus groups.
 
While we are collecting data, the project is working to improve access to justice for trans* people by conducting public legal education workshops for trans* people about trans* legal rights and how to access reliable legal information and services. We are also providing continuing professional development workshops for legal service providers to help increase their capacity to provide informed and inclusive services for trans* clients.
 
To be eligible to complete the project survey and/or participate in a project focus group, you must be 16 years of age or over, live or work in Ontario, and identify as trans* [based on the following definition]:
“The project uses “trans*” as an umbrella term to refer to people with diverse experiences and identities, including two-spirit, non-binary, agender, gender queer, cross dresser, transgender and transsexual, as well as those who identify as men or women who have a history that involves a gender transition.”
 
The survey contains 4 core sections and is expected to take approximately 45 to 60 minutes to complete. The core sections ask questions about you, about legal problems you may have had, about how you get your legal needs met, and about your views of the legal system.
There are 2 additional sections that ask more in depth questions about legal problems, experiences in different legal settings (for example, a court house, a tribunal, and/or law office), and interactions with people associated with the justice system (such as with judges, lawyers, paralegals, and/or police). The additional sections are optional, expected to take approximately 20 to 30 minutes, and are designed for people who have experienced legal problems and have gone to court or tried to get help from a legal service provider to deal with the problems.

 
So you know what you’re getting into:
 
Section A includes questions about personal information – “About You” stuff like binary/non-binary ID(s), gender ID(s), sexual orientation(s) (with a fair number of “tick all that apply” questions), racial(ized) identity/ies, Canadian immigration/citizenship status, & personal income, but also includes stuff about anxiety, depression, suicidality, housing-security, food-security, and abusive/violent relationships.
 
Section B includes questions about access (time, energy, availability, knowledge, physical accessibility), self-advocacy, and personal & professional access-support.
 
Section C includes questions about your feelings regarding the legal system in Ontario (it’s a pretty short section).
 
Section D includes questions about legal problems/“problems”, and interactions with the legal system in Ontario, that you have experienced personally, including family & child-specific family law, employment law, housing problems, medical treatment & mental health law, immigration law & refugee situations, jail time, personal injury & property damage, debt, various forms of social assistance including Ontario Works and ODSP, HIV-specific legal issue, and Discrimination stuff including, but not limited to, trans-specific discrimination.
 
The one thing that I would have expected, given that it’s a survey about the legal system that also touches on things like financial insecurity, job discrimination, and HIV criminalization, is that there didn’t appear to be any questions about sexwork or sexwork-stigma and how that effects people’s interactions with the legal system. It’s possible that they’re in there and I just missed them, though, as I was skimming rather than going through it line by line. YMMV.
 
ANYWAY. If you are trans, an Ontario-resident, and have had experience(s) with elements of the legal system, I hope you will take the time to fill this out, even though it’s a long one. Legal Aid is paying attention to the results of this one, so your responses might actually make some positive changes happen.
 
Thanks very much, and please feel free to pass the link and the information along to Ontario trans folks you know.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.

So someone on Twitter asked who-all was going to attend this evening’s Day Of Pink Gala (hosted by the CCGSD, formerly Jer’s Vision), and I responded, this morning, with one word: Nope.
While the sentiment was definitely clear, I did feel like I was being a bit misleading. So, as is my wont, I wrote a blog post to talk about this a little bit more.
 
Look. The truth of the matter is that I’ve never gone to a Day of Pink Gala. Even though it’s a free (iirc) party, and even though there’s a good chance that there’s free food at said free party, and even though I am exactly the kind of broke artist who will show up at a stranger’s vernisage specifically to eat the free cheese while trying to get a modeling job… I never went to DoP. For Reasons. Put it down to my being a home-body and big crowds making me nervous.
 
In previous years, this wasn’t anything to Make A Statement about, so I never did. At most, I’d shrug and go “Meh. I think I’ve got something else on that night” and not mention that “something else” was probably “youtube videos”. But then this happened: The CCGSD appointed Laureen Harper as their Day Of Pink ambassador. Now, on her own, Laureen Harper is just… some chick. Google her, and pretty-much all you’ll find is her connection to her husband, the current leader of the governing party of Canada.
You know, the biggest bully in the country.
(Okay, he might be tied with Don Plett, but every slime-ball needs a wingman, amirite?)
 
So here’s the thing. It is (technically) possible to have a lasting, loving relationship with a partner whose politics differ radically from your own. At least in theory[1]. So this would be a completely different situation if Laureen Harper’s youth-advocacy work involved being vocally and publically supportive of the rights of specifically queer and trans students to a harassment-free learning environment.
But, as far as I can tell, she’s not doing that. Sure, she talks about how it’s important to support diversity in schools, but in Ottawa, and in Ontario more generally, we’ve been watching state-sponsored English-language Catholic schools insist on the term “diversity” as a way to specifically refuse to support, or even recognize, their queer and trans students. “Diversity” in and of itself is great – the Pagans have a saying, “Strength in Diversity”, that references how much healthier a tall-grass prairie is to a monocrop, for example, how many voices singing in harmony with each other are way more powerful, more moving, than one voice shouting all alone – but “diversity” isn’t great when it’s co-opted by people who are actively trying to force you back into a closet.
 
Also, something worth noting: Pink Shirt Day was originally a campaign started by two rural Nova Scotia 12th-graders in support of a ninth-grade student who was hit with specifically homophobic slurs when he wore a pink shirt to school one day. Day Of Pink is a national upshot of youth-for-youth solidarity and, importantly, of youth standing with peers who face violence specifically because their gender presentation and/or sexual orientation is, or is perceived to be, outside of what’s considered “normal”.
So here’s a story from my own childhood:
I didn’t know “bisexual” was a thing until I was sixteen, and it took another year for me to figure out that “bixsexual” was a term that applied to me. But I didn’t need to be “out and proud” or even just “visibly queer” (as a cis, femme, little girl, the only things that marked me as “other” were my height, my music, and – unexpectedly? – my insistence on wearing dresses) to face homophobic bullying. Nobody beat me up, but my fifth grade was all about getting swarmed by mobs of classmates jeering “Are you a lesbian? Are you a lesbian???” (if you were wondering about where that fear of crowds came from…), stealing my shoes, being told that people being “different” was fine just “Not when they’re different like you”. It was my teachers being deeply unsettled to see me doing a Fred and Ginger dance routine with another girl in my grade.
I know damn well that I was not the only turned-out-to-be-queer kid in my class. Not just statistically, either (Ottawa’s a small town, for a place with a million people). Given that none of our teachers were saying “there’s nothing wrong with this, stop being a douche-canoe”, I can’t say I blame them for letting me draw the fire, if they’d even figured themselves out yet, which isn’t necessarily the case. But if they knew? If nine and ten year old kids knew they were One Of Us, and knew that to keep themselves safe they had to laugh at the (other) faggot right along with the Normal People… do you really think they wouldn’t?
I’m not typically one to quote Ivan Coyote, but they said something on facebook a while back, after having seen a high school teacher wearing a pink t-shirt that read “The Pink Shirt Says It All”. What they said on facebook was (I’m paraphrasing, I think) “The pink shirt means fuck-all if it’s not backed up with action”.
 
Look. There are things that CCGSD does that I really, really like. I love that they hold national conferences where high school students can learn how to advocate for themselves and their peers with a specific focus on gender and/or sexuality minorities and youth of colour. I love that they run Rainbow Write, locally, which is a program that bring queer and/or trans writers and, frequently, specifically queer and/or trans writers of colour, to Ottawa to do writing workshops with queer and trans teens[2] (and, if space allows, Rainbow Brights of all ages). But Day Of Pink is supposed to be about stopping specifically homophobic and transphobic bullying; about making schools and, more broadly, the world safer for our children; for sending the message (and backing it up with action, folks!) that this particular type of cruelty – which is used to police gender and sexuality at every age and regardless of what a given targeted-person’s gender and sexual orientation actually are, but which always, always hurts OUR kids, no matter whom its directed at – is absolutely not okay. Deciding that the appropriate ambassador for this message is someone who will actively dilute it, who is someone with deep and personal ties to a party that is clearly dead set against all of us who live outside of that tiny, narrow charmed circle? My dears, that was the wrong decision.
 
Those feelings of rage and betrayal that are flying all over twitter right now? Those feelings are real. Some of us believed you had our backs. But getting popular with the powerful crowd by betraying those who are already getting stomped on?
Honey… that’s what bullies do.
 
 
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Although, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how. That is a hell of a hard road to walk, even when your partner’s hateful, fear-mongering politics aren’t routinely being rammed into actual federal laws.
 
[2] The second time I came out – as kinky and poly and queer-femme – as an adult with my own place to live, it was queer (and frequently kinky and poly) femme poets who got me through my divorce, helped me see my reflection on paper, and helped me find my voice as a writer. I can’t imagine how much more of a huge fucking relief it would be for a queer and/or trans kid, a teenager who might be afraid of getting kicked out of their home if they’re open about who they are, to meet and be mentored by adults who are just like them and who get it.

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. 😦

So, quite some while ago – actually, a whole year ago, give or take a week or two – I was in Toronto for a conference that included a workshop on exploring gender through visual art. It was a grand old time, and I was surprised to see how much of my sense of gender was rooted specifically in femme rather than woman and, additionally, how much teary, shaking, rage was built into it.
I don’t know why that is.
I mean, I have theories. The little voice at the back of my brain singing girl, girl, girl was never told to shut up, never silenced. Whereas femme was something I had to find and, to some extent, fight for. I’m cissexual, so any time I gravitated towards a thing that was culturally coded as “girly” or “feminine” I got a big old “YES YOU ARE DOING GENDER RIGHT” from everyone around me (and, yeah, backwards much? But there it is) and, because I tended not to gravitate towards “boyish”/“masculine” things I didn’t get much “Yer Doing It Rong”. Except when I did what I now think of as “femme stuff”.
Which I guess means I need to offer up a personal working definition of Femme, how I was introduced to the word, and what it means for me.
I started finding femme – the word, the possibility that it might fit me – during my first marriage. I was shaping up to be a whole lot gayer (and kinky, and probably non-monogamous) than I’d originally thought, and the social expectations around being a hetero(normative) wife – with all the stuff that goes along with that[1], the expectations of modest-but-not-too-modest officially vanilla (but unofficial/unspoken submissive) heterosexuality, desire for kids & motherhood, even religious/political views and career aspirations (which starts digging into class stuff, but it’s tied up with the idea of “wife”, too), of not rocking the boat, of knowing when to keep quiet – was really, really uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time at family functions escaping to the bathroom so that I could let my shoulders come down from around my ears.
So finding femme – a word that is intimately tied, for me at least, to (a) being Girl, (b) being feminine rather than masculine, (c) being openly sensual & sexual, but also and very importantly (d) owning my own body & having physical & sexual autonomy beyond a Yes/No switch that could only be flicked once – was kind of a massive big deal. Like “Wait, that’s an option??”
I’ve heard Femme described as “broken femininity” and also – frequently – as a femininity that is “too much”.
I’ve always been “too much”. Too big. Too loud. Having been hearing the Social Disapproval version of STFU about things like my voice and my body and my sensuality since I was about ten, maybe a little younger.
So finding Femme was like “Wait, I don’t have to be masculine on some level to be all of myself at once? And not get punished for it? ZOMG!”
I wrote a poem, years ago now, where I talked about how becoming femme had been a process of unraveling the strictures of Mandatory Femininity that had been knit around me from birth so that I could be the feminine person that I am without having to squeeze myself into a garment that had always been too small, too constricting. Yes, it was a total metaphor-fest. Welcome to Poetry. 😉
It’s not that woman isn’t a significant part of my identity. It’s is, very much so. But what I am, this galaxy-sized creature that I am, bombastic that I am, can hold “woman” in its core and still be too big, too much, to be contained by it. Femme can stretch and mould to the whole of me. Femme actually fits.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] The day we went out to buy wedding dress fabric, my mom took one look at my tattered and patched army boots and told me I should replace them specifically because “[…] You’re gonna be a bride”. Brides, apparently, do not wear army boots[2].
 
[2] Tell that to my wife, who wore them on our wedding day. ❤ 🙂

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.

So Maggie Mayhem has this post about “Women by the Wayside”. It’s a post about the cultural narrative we have about “women on the road”. But it’s also a post about the cultural narrative that we have about women who exercise agency and autonomy when it comes to our own bodies and what we do with them.
She says:

“There’s the rub, right? Whether you’re the woman who dared to stick out a thumb for a ride, tits for the rent, or a tongue for a tab of acid you get that message loud and clear: you’ll get what’s coming to you one way or another.”

 
It’s not an easy read. I’ve had harder, but be aware: The subject that prompted the post is that of Women disappearing on the highway and getting found in dumpsters. The subject of the post itself is sexwork, stigma and in/visibility. Just be aware of what you’re getting into.
 
Maggie also says:

“Engaging in sex work as a method of survival is seen as tragic, not victorious. You’re relegated to life in the objective case, not the subjective. When people are committed to the narrative of your context as defeat they will only see you as defeated.”

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This is why I’m linking this post right now. Because I think it’s incredibly relevant to what’s going on with #C36.
It’s a post about how, for women who “presume” that we own our own bodies and can make our own choices even when they go against what Patriarchy would want us to do or believe, the presumed (presumed “deserved”?) outcome for us is rape and death.
Go take a look.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.

Okay.
So maybe this is going to be a little weird.
 
A while back (long while back, now) I wrote a post about some of the stuff that came up during “Slutriot” (a twitter-chat that I participated in, back in August). I wrote most of the post on the subject of whorestigma and how “whore” is a threat (of stigma, but also of violence, of “you’ll get what you deserve”) used specifically to police specifically women’s sexuality, even as it’s also a job description that applies to people of numerous genders. I wrote about how I don’t want to throw the gender diversity of sexworkers under the bus in order to address the sexism and misogyny that deeply tangled in the roots of whorestigma, but that I also don’t want to lose sight of those roots by saying things like “men, women, and non-binary people involved in the sex industry” when, disproportionally, it is cis women and trans women who work in the industry and, disproportionately, it is cis women and trans women who bear the brunt of whorestigma and whorephobia, and who get murdered on the job.
 
And I feel a little bit like that about Day of Action on Violence Against Women. Because I know women who have been seriously fucked up due to their female abusers’ actions. Hell, I’m married to one of them. I’m aware of how “sisterhood is powerful” can be twisted up with fears of rape-you-straight dyke-bashing and an over-arching cultural assumption that “women are passive” (and therefore not violent) to result in both a huge amount of under-reporting and, I suspect, a huge amount of dismissal of reports (see also “How we teach our kids that women are liars” although that doesn’t just apply to queer women), with regards to queer women’s violence against other queer women.
 
And yet.
 
Incidents of violence against women do not occur in a vacuum.
When the polytechnique masacre happened (in 1989 – 24 years ago this December 6th), there was a lot of talk about how it was a “lone madman”, of how the shooter was “crazy”. And very little about how this event was an extreme manifestation of a systematic problem.
A man murdering women because they had something that he felt entitled to and resented them for having and not giving up?
That happens all the time.
We live in a culture that says women are worth less than men, that our needs should take a back seat to their wants.
 
Of the 230 domestic homicides in Ontario between 2002 and 2007, 92% were committed by men and only 8% by women, according to the Ontario Domestic Violence Death Review Committee.[1]
 
83% of all police-reported domestic assaults are against women. This pattern is consistent for every province and territory across Canada. (emphasis mine)
 
…There’s a derailing technique where the derailer basically says “But _____________ gets done to X, too!”[2]
 
It’s not “derailing” to point out that violence against women is sometimes committed by other women. But, as much as women’s violence against women needs to be recognized as a real thing, I think that part of the point of marking December 6th as a day of rememberance and action on violence against women, is to be aware of – and to work against – the systemic gender-based inequalities that make murdering us a viable option for “conflict resolution” by the almost-always-men who claim to love us.
 
 
Just some thoughts.
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Click that link for a discussion of how intersecting marginalizations further increase women’s vulnerability to domestic violence.
 
[2] You see it made fun of by people mock-wailing “But what about teh menz???!”, for example.