Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Wow, I'm not "in Style"

I was reading Feministing today, and came across a story from The Globe and Mail telling us that Feminism is not "in style". The column points out that, based on the author's experience with her niece and daughter, my generation knows nothing about feminism. I call Bull Shit.

Yes, there are many women in my generation who don't know the first thing about feminism, who start pro-feminist statements with the dreaded "I'm not feminist, but..." however there are many of us (myself included, in case you were wondering) that consider ourselves feminist. If you'd asked me at 16 (the age of the author's daughter) who Gloria Steinem was, I'd have had the same reaction as her daughter (Who?). Ask me that question now, and I still wouldn't be able to give you a great answer.

Ask me if I think it's wrong that women doing the same job earn an average of 70% of what a man earns, I'll tell you it's wrong. Ask any of my friends, I expect the same answer. Ask a high school student, probably the same answer again. Ask me if I think there are too few women in politics, or running companies, I would say yes. Ask me a question about the issues facing women in our world, and I'll be able to answer, as would most young women.

I've been a feminist since I was 12, before I even knew what a feminist was. When I was in Grade 6 we had a small basketball court beside the school where we would play at lunch. The girls were more than welcome to join a game of 4-square, but when it was time to play "Horse" we were booted off the court by the boys. I got pissed off. I hated playing Horse, I hated basketball, but I hated the fact that the boys wouldn't let me play more. I was determined to play, so I'd stand on the court, and try to get the ball. When they wouldn't pass it to me, I started to argue with them. When I managed to get the ball, I'd toss it to one of the other girls who wanted to play. Finally it got the the point where I'd had enough. The boys weren't listening to me, so I went above them, to our teacher. I demanded that the boys let us play to, because it simply wasn't fair. They included me in games after school, but the other girls didn't play, because they weren't part of their group. I was when there weren't other girls around and it wasn't fair to those girls.

The brief negotiations began, our teacher acting as moderator and we reached a deal. If the boys didn't want to share, they had to split the time, the girls got the court 2 days a week, the boys 2 (Wednesdays were half-days, and we didn't have a lunch-time recess). I negotiated with 3 boys, there were girls with me, but I always did most of the talking at school anyway. I was never popular with boys the way the other girls were, so they felt more comfortable with me. I was an equal, for the most part, while the other girls were there to be impressed. They were willing to talk to me, so we talked and worked it out.

I wasn't stylish then, and I'm fairly certain that a lot of what I think and say isn't stylish now, but that has never bothered me. Change doesn't happen when people are comfortable, and even though many of my peers aren't comfortable with feminism, they do know what it is, and that they have a lot riding on it. We're still here, and we'll keep fighting. Being un-stylish has never stopped us before.

Monday, 28 January 2008


Now that I have time to put something together for the 20th anniversary of the Morgenthaler decision, I'm all typed out and very sleepy. I was up entirely too late last night. I'm finally reading the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. I got through "The Golden Compass" this weekend, and I've just started "The Subtle Knife" so I'm not in the right frame to write about why I'm celebrating.

Check out The PedgeHog's blog "Anti-Choice is Anti-Awesome" because she can put my ass to shame when discussing why women in Canada deserve, and still need to fight for, the right to an abortion. And she tells great stories.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

So, this was just going to be a response in comments, but it got too damn long.

Mr. Murphy;

Damn you and your law-learning...

I agree that post-partum depression is a very real problem for some women. My initial reaction was "discrimination!" (The exclaimation point was even included) but after some thought I realized that there are cases where women do need to recover from the physical damage birth can cause, and that women who have recently given birth are at risk for mental illness. I am not arguing that they do not deserve additional time to recover, but I would argue that as a mental illness, post-partum depression be included under disability, not mat. leave. Pregnancy is not the only biological cause of mental illness.

Another reason post-partum depression should be included under disability instead of mat. leave is that it would increase awareness of the problem, and maybe even remove some of the stigma attached to post-partum depression. Although there is increasing awareness of post-partum depression, there are still too many stories of women going untreated. Women are too often thought of as "weak" or "bad mothers" when they are suffering a serious mental illness, and since, as you point out, the recovery time has been included with mat. leave there is no reason to raise awareness that it is not just "baby blues" and that it is a problem.

I would also argue that if post-partum depression is the main reason that you believe that women who have just given birth are entitled to mat. leave, why aren't fathers and husbands entitled to take that 15 weeks off as well? Wouldn't it be better for a woman's recovery from post-partum depression to have her mate with her, to help her through the dark times, work with her to get better, and look after the child? Or, if she's suffering a difficult pregnancy, that he be entitled to take time off before the birth, as pregnant women are, to care for her, and ensure that she, and his child are both ready for their new lives?

Mat. leave is not just discriminatory to adoptive mothers, I feel that fathers are being ignored here as well, and that this comes directly from what I thought was my main point, the medicalization of pregnancy. Women's bodies suffer the most from pregnancy, but that does not mean that they always need so much medical attention. Fathers and adoptive parents have a huge role in the child's life, they deserve their chance to become care takers in the same way pregnant women do. The birth of a child is not just about the medical treatment that women "need" before, during and after birth, it should be about parents getting a chance to bond with their child, and learning about their new lives. \Since pregnancy has become something that requires hospitalization, and turns women's bodies into objects instead of subjects we live under the idea that pregnancy is always a traumatic experience. I am not arguing that this never happens, I am aware that often birth and post-partum depression are traumatic experiences and need additional medical attention. I simply feel that since we have been taught for so long that women are not capable of looking after themsleves during pregnancy, things such as mat. leave are re-enforcing the idea.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Adoption, parental leave, and the medicalization of pregnancy

The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday refused to hear the case of a B.C. mom seeking to change Canada's employment laws so that they grant maternity leave to adoptive parents.

Parental leave and maternity leave are accessable in Canada through Employment Insurance (EI). 15 to 17 weeks are available to a woman who has or will give birth up to 8 weeks before the expected due date (maternity leave), while up to 35 weeks is available to the mother, father, or both, either biological or adoptive (parental leave).

The case in BC found that since a woman adopting a child does not go through the physical and psychological challenges facing a pregnant women, the adoptive mother does not need the additional 15 weeks of maternity leave to recover and bond with the child.

I have never given birth, I have never adopted, I don't think I've even been around a newborn for more than 3 hours since I was a child. I do not know what it is like to carry a child so anything I say has no basis in experience. I just felt the need to point out something that I thinks needs to be added to the converation about maternity leave.

My first reaction to this story was a feeling that people were being discriminated against. A parent is a parent is a parent. Giving birth and adopting a child are the same life-long commitment, and while pregnancy takes a toll on a woman's mind and body for 9 months, adoption can take much longer. We've all heard the stories about the long and painful process adoption can be, maybe not as often as we hear stories about difficult pregnancies but that is because more people have biological children. I know that my mother was in labor with me for around 48 hours, I was 2 weeks early, and decided I was ready to get out the day she started her mat. leave. I'm sure in the story of an adopted child the wait between deciding it's time for a baby, and holding a child in their arms is much greater than 8 and a half months.

Back to the point. When I started reading reactions to the story on the CBC website I noticed that many people were arguing that women who give birth were entitled to the additional time off because they needed to recover from the traumatic experience of giving birth. Women needed to rest, allow their bodies to return to a "normal" state. They needed time to get their hormones back to "normal".

I started to search the comments for a reaction to this. I was wondering why these people were treating pregnancy like an illness, and if anyone would point out the thought that was running through my head. I could not find the response I was looking for, so here it is. Pregnancy is not an illness. Pregnancy is not abnormal. The way we treat pregnancy in this society is what is abnormal.

I am not saying that women do not need time to bond with a child after birth or adoption, and I am not saying that pregnancy is easy. It does take a toll on the mind and body, but we were built to recover from it. We've been doing this for millions of years! It's only in the last century that pregnancy has come under the realm of medicine. The comments from some of the other readers were making all pregnancies sound like traumatic, unnatural experiences from which women are unable to recover without extensive time away from other responsibilities.

Horse shit.

The medicalization of women's bodies is a huge drain on our healthcare system. There are cases where women need the attention of doctors before, during, and after birth, but in most cases the hospitalization of a woman in labour is overkill. Our bodies spend 9 months preparing for birth, and most women do not require hospitalization. We need help, but a trained midwife is often all we need.

That said, I feel that maternity leave and parental leave should be accessable to everyone who is about to become a parent. I agree that there should be limits in certain circumstances, and that adopting a teenager is vastly different from adopting a baby, or giving birth and this should be taken into consideration, but how often do people adopt teens?

It doesn't help that I have a huge problem with hospitals in general, that I associate hospitals with death (which is another story... I have a problem with the fact that we use hospitals and hospices to hide death behind closed doors). I personally do not want to bring a child into this world in a place that I associate with death. Unless I am in a situation where my life, or my child's life is at risk (agian with the death thing...) I do not want to give birth in a hospital.

One last time, pregnancy in not an illness in and of itself. There is no need to treat it as such.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Happy Birthday!

To me, and to Roe v. Wade! I am 24, and the legislation to give women the right to choose not to carry a pregnancy to term in the US is 35.

January 28th is the 20th anniversary of the R. v. Morgenthaler decision in Canada. I am going to see if I can come up with something good. I may or may not have stories to tell. It depends on if I work up the courage to ask certain people I know for their stories. I may just write my part of their stories.

I think it is important to say what I want to say on the matter, but that would take a long time, and I want to have a birthday bubble bath.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Noisy Neighbours

So Husband finally complained to the landlords about the noise coming from upstairs. Normally we don't mind the occasional music, and the woman who lives downstairs always has her TV up loud. She's reasonable about it, and it never bothers us because when we have the TV on we can't hear it. I don't mind hearing music when I'm walking in the halls, or that sound you hear when you can tell someone is listening to some music in another apartment, but it's not loud enough to make out the song.

The people upstairs are another story. Right now, I know that they are listening to one of the weekly countdowns, as they do every Saturday morning. I can clearly hear the lyrics to the songs, the voice of the DJ and occasionally the person listening to the radio singing along. They've been growing in volume. When we first moved in, it was the occasional song on a Friday or Saturday night. Not a problem, it's a weekend, they're enjoying themselves, I'm not in any desperate need for peace and quiet. We're usually out anyway, and they would turn the volume down around 11pm, which is reasonable.

Over the last few weeks the music has been constant. I get up at 7am, and I can hear it. I shower and I can still hear it. I go to work, and I can hear it in the halls. I'd come home for lunch, hey! Toxic by Britney Spears! I feel like I'm back in Res at university. Husband had even stared doing what my roommate there did, they both take a broom and bang it against the ceiling.

It seems that his complaint was the final straw. According to our landlord the "person" who lives upstairs had been shuffled around repeatedly due to noise complaints. I place person in quotations because although our landlord has only one person on the lease, there are numerous people staying there. There is a stream of people in and out of that apartment. According to our landlord they have not paid a full months rent ever. I know how much they owe him, but that's none of my business.

When we first heard that they were being evicted, I felt responsible. It was our complaint that was the deciding factor, but that was before I knew how irresponsible they are. I no longer feel badly about the eviction.

I think part of the reason I felt responsible is that we never went to the people who live there to ask them to stop. Is it my responsibility to go to the person making the noise? We came into this building knowing that there had been previous noise complaints about this "person" so we were prepared for some disturbance. We're not living in a convent, some noise is expected and reasonable. We're not always quiet, and I know that I would prefer to hear a complaint from the neighbour, not the landlord.

However, since there were previous complaints, I assumed that they were aware that a certain level of noise was acceptable, and excessive noise was not. I do not feel that it is my duty to enforce our landlords previous warnings. I am not a babysitter, and they need to accept the responsibility that comes along with living in a building with other people.

Anyway, they'll be gone in 2 weeks. I only hope that the people who move in won't be as loud, but also that they won't be sensitive to the noise that sometimes comes from our apartment.

Monday, 14 January 2008

From Smack in the Crack

Subject: Resignation

To whom it may concern:

I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult.

* I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of a 5 year old again.
* I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four star restaurant.
* I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make ripples in a pond with rocks.
* I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them.
* I want to lie under a big oak tree and watch the ants march up its trunk.
* I want to run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer's day.
* I want to think a quarter is worth more than a dollar bill cause it's prettier and weighs more.
* I want to go fishing and care more about catching the minnows along the shore than the big bass in the lake.
* I want to return to a time when life was simple. When all you knew were colors, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes. When I didn't know what I know now. When all I knew was to be happy because I was blissfully unaware of all the things that should make me worried.
* I want to think the world is fair.
* I want to think that everyone is honest and good. I want to believe that anything is possible.
* I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.
* I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness, and the loss of loved ones.
* I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, dreams, the imagination, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, a kiss that makes a boo-boo go away, making angels in the snow and that my dad and Superman are the strongest people in the world.

So......here's my checkbook and my car-keys, my credit cards and the bills too, my 401K statements, my stocks & bonds, my collections, my insurance premiums, my job, my house and the payments too, my e-mail address pager,cell phone, computer, and watch. I am officially resigning from adulthood. And if you want to discuss this with me further, you'll have to catch me first, cause,

"You're it!"

You're Alice's Adventures in Wonderland!

by Lewis Carroll

After stumbling down the wrong turn in life, you've had your mind
opened to a number of strange and curious things. As life grows curiouser and curiouser,
you have to ask yourself what's real and what's the picture of illusion. Little is coming
to your aid in discerning fantasy from fact, but the line between them is so blurry that
it's starting not to matter. Be careful around rabbit holes and those who smile to much,
and just avoid hat shops altogether.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Yay Uncle Ryan!

Mix of unique N.B. acts are up for ECMAs

My uncle (it feels weird calling him that) Ryan LeBlanc has been nominated for an East Coast Music Award! He's an amazing instrumentalist, using a wide variety of instruments from a guitar to his chair. Check out Ryan LeBlanc's music and bio. He is a solo performer, so remember that when you listen to him. He is making all those sounds at once.

Congrats Ryan!

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

I have a problem with this...

Sexually active gay men no longer allowed to donate organs

"Dr. Peter Nickerson, director of Transplant Manitoba, which procures organs in that province, said transplant programs must now by law interview family members of the donor as part of the screening process.

"We'll be asking about things like travel, history of infectious disease, whether they've [donors] been in jail — that puts you at increased risk," Nickerson said. "Have they been an IV drug abuser in the past? Have they had tattoos? There's a whole list of questions we go through."

They are also asked about the donor's sexual orientation. The donor will be excluded if the donor is a man who had sex with another man in the previous five years.

Health Canada had contracted the Canadian Standards Association in 2003 to come up with standardized guidelines to ensure the safety of the organ donation system."

I understand Health Canada's desire to protect patients from diseases that can be transmitted through organs, but this is a little over-zealous. Not only are they ruling out an entire group of people, they are ruling out a lot of others based on some stereotypical notions about risky behavior. There is more relevant information to determine that a donor is at risk for disease. Sexual orientation is not necessarily an indicator that the donor is at risk, engaging in risky behaviour is an indication that a donor would be at risk.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

After the holidays...

I had the worst New Years Day.

There's a long story involving a normally 3 hour drive, my blinkers not working properly (a fuse keeps blowing), a flat tire, a nail and some of the patch stuff in the flat tire, a blown tire and a dead battery. Throw in a trunk with a jack, a spare but no wrench and you have a 2 hour wait on the side of the highway between NB and NS followed by going 60km/h on a 110 km/h highway for almost 3 hours with my 4-ways on. It took 8 hours to make the trip from my parents' house to my apartment. Luckily I had some company whose mother had insisted that she take some of her blankets home, so at least we didn't freeze.

Not one person stopped. Not one person. We even started waving at cars and trucks trying to get their attention. Nothing. We were stuck, with our bags hauled out of the trunk so we could get to the spare, the hood was open to try to boost the battery with one of those power packs from Canadian Tire and not one person stopped. A few people were nice enough to wave back, with their Tim Horton's coffee in hand. We had a few choice words for them that only the wind heard.

Luckily we were between storms so we didn't get snowed in. We beat the storm that was forecast by only a few hours. My husband replaced the blown fuse, but for some reason it blew again just as we turned off the ramp to get home.

And the best part? On New Years Eve, my husband managed to shatter the glass in his rear window while scraping the ice off it.

Things are starting to get back to normal. It seems like we'll be in for a few changes at work, and I'll be very busy for the next few days. I'll try to post something more cheerful soon.