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Category Archives: Politics

Missing the Point

So, I’m always reading. Usually, I’m reading stuff that resonates with my beliefs and interests (aren’t we all though?). Most times, what I wind up reading are blogs or articles that get linked to in my facebook feed. In fact, the only way that I really know what’s going on in our world is because of the good people who keep linking to or commenting on political/social/economic/enviromental pieces.

This irritates MOMD to no end since he is a news junkie and a journalist by trade.  My ardent refusal to engage in his penchant for useless information is baffling to him; although I like to think he also secretly finds it endearing.

Anyway. As you well know if your’e a regular reader (bah! Regular! That assumes that I write regularly! hahaha… Sorry. But really: we both know that’s just ludicrous.) my leanings are decidedly socialist with a mighty dash of feminist. So a lot of what I decide to read in my feed are stories in these veins.  This morning I linked to something about women not engaging in political discourse because of the level of debate.

Now that resonated with me.

So I clicked the link.  And I tell you what: it was not well written.  In fact, I think it was written by someone who simply wanted to prove their point because it did nothing to further the discussion, and it actively discouraged my interest.  Which is a shame because honestly, I think the subheader did a great job of luring in readers.  The synopsis hit on an idea that’s been percolating in my head for ages that I just haven’t had the time to formulate.

I do not actively engage in politics because the level of discourse is so low.

A prime example is attack ads.  They do nothing to discuss party platforms, track records, or public engagement.  The sole purpose of these ads is to simply defame a single person.  And while it’s true that often we often vote for an individual rather than specifically a party (Jack Layton, anyone?) ads that vilify the leader of a party are useless.  I remember when Kim Campbell had stepped in as interim leader for the Conservative party back in 1993 and during the election campaign that followed, she was advised to run an ad that criticized – really, made fun of – Jean Chretien’s partially paralyzed face.  The woman I was wanted desperately to love our country’s first female Prime Minister, but the human in me was appalled at that level of insensitivity.  As was most of the country, and the conservatives fell from a majority government to not even holding official party status.

It’s not just attack ads though.  If I look at politics closer to home, a fantastic example of what really turns my engagement to zero is currently holding the title of Mayor in the City of Toronto.  There are so many things that offend me about Mayor Rob Ford, I could seriously go on and on.  If I look at that litany what it all boils down to is that he is belligerent, diametrically opposed to discussion or debate and willfully ignorant.  What I learned in school, when I was politically engaged, is that the heart of politics is discourse.

Remember debating?  I do.  I remember high school debates with so much fondness.  Choosing or being given a stance (defense or opposition) on a statement, and you and your team mate laid out an argument and then you debated the other side.  They were heated, but they were always civilized.  Yes, we kept to our stances while the debate was raging, but we were listening to what the other side was saying.  We had to: we had to be able to refute their arguments.

From my position, today’s politicians are all like Mayor Ford.  They have a position, they have a party line, some communications handler carefully crafts them a statement, and they read it.  Over and over and over again in some cases.  They are not listening, they are not responding, they are not engaged.  When the opposition stands up to speak, they are doing the same thing, except there’s a lot of heavy chest thumping accompanying their stating and restating and restating their opposition.

And really: that’s just so disheartening.  I for one would welcome a conversation where I did not have to prove that sexism is inherent, that rape culture exists, and that listening and responding to comments is an important part of what sets us humans apart from primates.  Maybe, just maybe, if I felt like anyone was listening, if anyone anywhere in our political system was engaged, then perhaps I too would become so myself.

For now though, for now I’ll just stay over here in my media-free bubble.

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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in Opinion, Politics

 

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This World We Live In…

Every day I start off my day by reading blogs.  I don’t read news papers, or news sites even (unless someone on my facebook feed links to an article that tweaks my interest).  I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t watch newscasts.  I am in what I like to call a “Media Free Bubble”.  As such, I miss out on things.  And the only ways that I stay informed of what’s going on in the world around me is through MOMD (who himself is a journalist), facebook, and blogs.

This week I stumbled upon a new blog: http://wrathofmom.blogspot.ca/.  When I find something new, where the writing is good and the humour is plenty, I tend to read through a bunch of entries to get the flavour for the site and decide whether it will make it into my usual haunts, so to speak.  Which is how I became aware of this.  And this.  I’m sure you can imagine it really made me uncomfortable.  Because wow…  way to be totally insensitive, even after the issues with your material are raised.  Far more appropriate would have been  to say, “Oh – I had no idea.  Thank you for raising our awareness.”  Or something like that.  Instead, the station did nothing and time is being spent discussing the problem in the House of Commons, in front of our Prime Minister.

And then there’s the whole business with Ashley Judd.  I mean, 6 months ago most of us were hard pressed to remember who Ashley Judd was.  We may remember her from her movies like “Double Jeopardy” and the grief she reportedly gets from her mother, Naomi Judd, for her movie roles.  And now, she’s up in the stratosphere, appearing on 4 highly recognized and watched news programs in less than 4 days.  She is the new face of the feminist discussion.

I’ve been a big fan of Miss Representation ever since I discovered it.  And in fact, when it was here for a screening back in October, I bought 4 tickets myself, and filled the seats.  There were 7 of us in our little group that night and it was just amazing to see.  A theatre filled with people – the 7 in our group ranged in ages from 12 to 63 – men, and women, discussing Humanity and how to best serve our own interests.

All of this made me feel like we were getting somewhere.  Maybe – just maybe – the time has come for the tide to turn and the world to become a more accepting place.  But then, I’ve always been an optimist.

Yesterday there was a link in my newsfeed – which I am deliberately NOT sharing here – to a piece asking whether a fairly well respected woman comedian was “too ugly for Hollywood”.  Mother of God!  Where do I live that this is a headline in an international magazine?!?!?!  Detractors from this article are saying things like, “did anyone ask this about Jack Black?”  This makes the point that there are not just ugly, but also fat men in Hollywood, who are regularly given big-budget movies to carry.  And at no point that I can find has someone ever asked if a man were too ugly for the industry.  And c’mon: Steve Buscemi – while an excellent actor and highly deserving of his reputation – is not good looking.

And yet, when I reflect, I note something that I find too convenient to be a coincidence.  This article was published in the wake of Ashely Judd’s essay, her subsequent press tour discussing her position, and all of the articles that came in response to her moment in the media spotlight.  All of this was designed to change the conversation – to dismantle and rebuild the way we think about each other and women specifically.  Women were getting some screen time and were talking about breaking down the establishment.

Does it not seem too convenient to you as well that “Is Rachel Dratch Too Ugly for Hollywood?” is a headline in the aftermath of the shifting sands upon which the Media Machine stands?

I remember reading somewhere once that the only way to keep women from taking control of our culture and industry is to keep them divided. (Mommy Wars, anyone?)  The author was saying that the only way for men to stay as power-players in our societies is to keep us distracted and fighting with each other so that we did not turn our collective intellects and strengths toward accomplishing goals that we consider important.  You know, silly stuff like ending the cycle of poverty for our young and elderly, education, and dare I say it?  Even world peace.

Somedays I am dismayed about the state of the world.  I question whether bringing more people into this mess was the right decision, particularly now since I’m carrying a little girl.  And then I remember that I am one person, with a voice, who has influence over 2 soon-to-be men allowing me to shape and mold their perspectives.  I remember that the presence of a strong man, like MOMD and my presence too promises a strong foundation for self-esteem, compassion, and discourse that will set our daughter up for success; in fact it will serve all 3 of our kids well.  It is then that I take a deep breath, square my shoulders and soldier on.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Opinion, Politics, Soap Box

 

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Reaching a New Level of Understanding

Do you find that, as you age (note: I did not say “get older” because really: no one wants to “get older”) opinions and thoughts you developed when you were young, solidify into facts?  For instance: I was a Girl Guide, and we used to camp on occasion at a place called Camp Ma Kee Wa.  They had a pool there, and when I was young, I knew that pool was huge.  I mean, freakin’ HUGE.  Then one time when I was a Brownie Leader, we took our Brownies to camp there.  And guess what?  That pool was tiny.  Like, the size of 2 regular-issue Toronto front lawns.  Seriously, I have friends that have pools in their back yards that are significantly larger than this pool.

This is what I mean about thoughts solidifying into facts.  Does that ever happen to you?  And then you come face-to-face with something that takes that “fact” and crushes it into teeny-tiny little pieces?  Has that happened to you before?

I have all ready admitted that it happens to me.  I’d like to think that it happens less often now, because I’ve made it a point to become very flexible in my view points.  Especially since so much of what I know about the world I learn from the internet.  And everyone knows you can’t trust what you read online.  <grin>  This flexibility has served me well in recent years, and thank God it’s been tested because yesterday, I had another one of these shake-up-and-shatter moments.

A friend of mine linked to a series of articles on The National Post’s website, about forced adoptions.  If you click this link, you will find a dozen or so articles that work to uncover the atrocities committed  in the name of “family values”.  I read through probably 6 of these articles yesterday, and with each one my heart was hurt.  As a mother, I cannot imagine the pain these women lived through, and the guilt that must still haunt them.  As someone who is right now pregnant, feeling the kicks of the child within, I cannot fathom never seeing the child I birthed, nevermind being denied the chance to hold my baby.  As a woman, I rage against the machine who believes that our mental states are so inferior that we – all women everywhere – cannot possibly raise a sound, solid human being without the presence and support of a man.  As a human being, I am deeply dismayed that as recently as 1970, basic rights to decency and compassion were denied to my sisters…

But this post is meant to be about reaching a new level of understanding.  And so I will explain that now.  My paternal Grandmother was a wonderful, strong, passionate woman.  Some may have called her obstinate, or stubborn.  I would actually call her liberated.  You see, she was born in the 1920’s in a farming community in Ontario.  She used to tell me about her big move to the city when I was a young woman, and I still find the story so empowering.  She told me that she went to school until she was 12, so she completed grade 8.  The summer after her 8th year, someone came to her door asking if she was going to register for school in September.  She said no, she was not.  She was going to the city to get a job and that was that.  And you know what?  That’s exactly what she did.  At the ripe old age of 12, she packed up a suitcase and boarded a bus to Toronto.  She got a job as a housekeeper for a family, where she stayed for some years.

She grew up in the city, grew into her independence, and worked for a living that was very comfortable.  When she met my Grandfather, she was 22.

This is my Nana, around about the time she married my Grampa

They met on a Saturday night, at a dance at the YMCA.  They way I remember her telling the story, she was dancing with him sometimes, and sometimes with his friend George.  A while after that fateful night, she found out that Grampa & George had a bet on to see who could take her home, “If I had known that, I wouldn’t have gone home with either of them!” She always made that last statement with a bang on her armrest.  God, how I miss you Nan.

Anyway – about my new understanding.  My Nan wound up pregnant.  Her baby was born in 1949, and she and Grampa were married in 1949 as well.  Obviously, she would have been one of the women who would be the targets of the forced adoption tactics.  This was eye-opening for me…  truly, a revelation.  Here’s why: my Nan’s marriage was – in so far as I could tell – loveless.  She didn’t ever seem happy with Grampa, and in fact I remember when I was 12, she was getting ready to leave him.  I always wondered why a woman like her – strong, fiercely independent, capable, empowered – stayed where she was not happy.  In fact, why did she get married at all?  All she would ever say to that question was, “Because it’s what you did.  You didn’t have a choice.”

I think I get it now…  She got married because if she didn’t, she wouldn’t get her baby.  And while I didn’t know her when her kids were young, I can tell you with certainty that there was very little she would not do for them, even as adults.  Whatever was needed, she was there for them.  Whatever her grandkids needed, she was there for them.  Be it a place to stay for a night or a week, some money to make rent, a nice hot dinner and a loving hug, she was there.  The very idea that this woman would not be allowed to have and raise her family is just devastating.  She did not have a choice.

So today, another facet of the woman who was my grandmother is crystalizing.  She truly was a warrior, a trailblazer.  Maybe not because she wanted to be, but because she had no other choice.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Family, Opinion, Politics

 

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