Archive for December, 2008

Enough… too much

December 23, 2008

Chip: Shoulder. Shoulder: Chip. Say goodbye.

Thanks Mir. (and Fern, too)

When I made my nomination for Best Feminist it was about her. When I clued in that it wasn’t going to be a postive experience I tried to make it about me. Maybe not too smart since it turns out I took it personally more than anyone.

In the end, it is about her and that’s how it should be.

The post where I gave my reasons for nominating Sara was written partially from the chip on my shoulder and not really intended for what I used it for. It was selfish of me to just link to it as it was written, because as much as I was sensitive to people rejecting me for what I was saying I understood that they would feel rejected by what I was saying. (wrong or right) I tried to let them know I wasn’t rejecting them, and partly so they wouldn’t reject me – without truly moderating what I was saying at all. I invited people to a post that tried to be freinds while strongly questioning important views.

That was maybe more genuine than inconsiderate. Either way, I’m sorry.

I guess all I mean to say is I care about this in India about no dogs or women allowed, and I’m glad and proud to live in a culture with songs like this too. …and happy holiday, I’ll probably be away tomorrow to the new year…

Feminine empathy

December 22, 2008

Reflecting on recent comments I’ve made, I’ve come to realize that I am an antisemetic Jewish woman.

Kidding. Let’s get scientific: the gender analyzer rated this blog at 99% male – with two poems. That embarasses Chuck Norris. I’m a Canadian dude, and while I know what it’s like to feel kinship with “Jews”, I feel commonality with Jewish Canadians as Canadians, and Jewish people as humans. I might post about my “anti-semitic” moment at some point because it’s an interesting sidenote.

But the fun stuff… in the What to call this? post I said this:

…Because while I share the conservative critiques of “radical” feminism I still see value in much of it and I’ve always had what I’ve thought of as a feminist perspective.

I say this as someone who grew up with a strong sister who imposed her viewpoint as a woman on me and my brothers. I’ll always have that whether or not I think of it as feminist but I believe I’ll lose some of it if I don’t and I don’t want that. By writing these posts as a feminist I’m claiming what I don’t want to lose.

That’s a bold way of putting things no? I’ll do that – but then there’s accuracy. “Impose” is about accurate, although it’s a strong toned word for what I mean. Growing up, she was the dominant (again, too strong toned) character and she had strong views about society’s expectations and stereotypes of women and the disadvantages she saw as a woman. She expressed her frustration with these things to me, and my brothers, and so I, if not sharing those frustrations quite personally, empathize with them in a personal way. I value that, and feel like the way I took the heat in that Best Feminist thread somehow made me feel cut off from that.

Ironically, it seems the most typically sensitive individual involved was da big bad wolfe.

So fun balancing act – affirm my feminine empathy without the lad in me protesting too much.

How To Fight Anti-Semitism

December 21, 2008

On a non-feminist note.

This is why free speech matters.

I am deeply opposed to Canada’s Human Rights Commissions. I’ve come to see them as instruments that promote the reputation of Canada’s white majority at the expense of the rights of individual Canadians. That’s not a good thing to let out of the bottle. It’s no wonder to me that Ezra Levant has said of the Canadian Jewish Council “I blame the Jews”. As a Jewish guy himself he’s being funny, he’s expressing his frustration that the CJC is defending an institution that, in treating the “majority” “racial” “group” as if they are a racial group does absolutely no good for equality – as Blazing Cat Fur rightly says.

…the rest is stated angrily. Worth reading I think if you don’t mind starred out f-bombs. please do read it anon, it’s more or less about your views.

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“Along the way, many a times, we had heart-burns but we did not burn those sexy bras!”

December 21, 2008

I was going to write a killer takedown of the coalition – and of Stephen Harper this weekend… but right now I want to post about feminism all day. I want to post my favorite feminist/pro-woman country songs and about the feminism101 site I’ve gotten links to. But what I just found was a “possibly related” link that’s definately related. These are the first posted comments by people who call themselves feminists from a post on Ultra Violet called The Many Faces of an Indian Feminist:

(*ed- and here the lad started protesting)

Standing up & saying it:

In an ideal world, Feminism wouldn’t exist. And all feminists should work towards that ideal state when a woman won’t have to depend on legal intervention or resort to bra-burning to get her proportionate share of this world.
~Abhishek Vanamali, 31, Marketing & IT Professional, Mumbai

I’ve been a feminist for a long time — since before I knew what the word meant. My parents had a huge role to play in my understanding of gender roles because they refused to subscribe to or support more conventional notions. Having grown up in a family where people were free to define themselves as people, not as male and female, I always find it odd when people do the latter. Being married to a feminist also brings a different perspective to the systemic ideas of gender structures!

~Aditya Sengupta, 29, IT Professional, Bangalore

I’m a feminist because equality is a universal aspiration and I believe in doing my share to bring it about.

~Amrita Rajan, 27, Writer, New York

Along the way, many a times, we had heart-burns but we did not burn those sexy bras! We simply stood our ground, tolerated when we could, ranted when we could not, loved foolishly and hated when spurned. For those of us who found the going too tough, we walked out, hearts bleeding but the spirit intact, all ready to start afresh.
~Batull Tavawala, 44, Corporate Social Responsibility Professional, Mumbai

Some people around think I should call myself a “humanist” or at least, not a feminist “because you love men and talk about the repercussions of a patriarchal society on men’s lives too.” Yes, I love men. And I care deeply about the different ways in which conditioning has been robbing men and women of various freedoms.
~Chandni Parekh, 25, Psychologist and Sexuality Educator, Mumbai

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What to call this?

December 21, 2008

I really didn’t expect this controversy about feminism. I know it’s hard for some to take things I’ve said as sincere and no suprise since some of what I wrote at the Best Feminist thread this year was sharply partisan – like “may I never be called reactionary by liberals again”.

I’m certainly not going to apologize for obliquely reflecting an insult (“reactionary”) that I’m used to getting head-on as a conservative but as I say, no suprise that it makes people think I’m not sincere. As I commented here, what many see as conservatives trying to disrupt the Best Feminist category I see as people responding to insults – conservative men and women making the point that one definition of feminism often argues that they are anti-woman or male or “mentally colonized” as Antonia put it. They’re saying this feminism doesn’t speak for all women and it doesn’t have the legitimacy to call them these things.

Coming from that, I have a similar message but the difference is that I’m not trying to deligitimize feminism but making the claim that it does or at least should speak for women in general. It’s controversial because, as I’ve learned, there are people who’s definition of feminism has a specific political content such as supporting daycare as opposed to a child tax credit, or abortion – things they believe are crucial to equality. And if feminism were to include women who oppose abortion or daycare then it would lose its political potency.

So why wouldn’t I, as a conservative, just want to deligitimize feminism if it’s often used to oppose my politics?

We need it. I think we need feminism to mean pro-woman before particular politics. If feminism cuts itself off from speaking for women in general our culture will lose part of the ideals associated with it, and that will deligitimize feminism in itself. Kate McMillian rejects feminism because feminism rejects Margaret Thatcher. Why wouldn’t Thatcher be respected by feminists? I put my post about her in a category called “I’m a confounding bastard aren’t I?” Am I making fun of people? No, I’m protecting myself from hostility by putting people on guard. Because while I share the conservative critiques of “radical” feminism I still see value in much of it and I’ve always had what I’ve thought of as a feminist perspective.

I say this as someone who grew up with a strong sister who imposed her viewpoint as a woman on me and my brothers. (see “feminine empathy“) I’ll always have that whether or not I think of it as feminist but I believe I’ll lose some of it if I don’t and I don’t want that. By writing these posts as a feminist I’m claiming what I don’t want to lose. I also say it as someone who knows a similarily strong woman who also recently told me she had an eating disorder for years. It’s so hard to believe it of someone so strong. And that’s why we need feminism. Margaret Thatcher was one of the most successful leaders in British history and that should be celebrated but even strong women, today, must fight these things imposed by our culture. If feminism loses legitimacy in speaking for women like these who will?

This is not the person I refer to above. I know her and I know her as someone that wouldn’t fit into the feminist category as defined by everyone but me in the Best Feminist comments. And I doubt she’d call herself feminist. At this point for Canada I think she and women like her can speak for themselves without a feminist label, but I wish feminists would also speak with her.

ada drive

December 21, 2008

…off-topic philosophy

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“You’ve got…”

December 20, 2008

it’s deleted… I woke up thinking of what Holly thought of this… actually dreaming of a message board and someone saying you just don’t touch something that’s so much a part of how people think of themselves. How weird is that? (dec 23)

(decided not to delete this part…) *note… I think that the “i’m a confounding…” category I put this sounds like I’m making fun of people. I didn’t want to just scrub it – I think the reason I gave in this post explains it better… (scrubbed it anyway)*

Your Thoughts on Feminism

December 20, 2008

 (update: it’s late for this, but for what it’s worth)

So I’m inviting people to comment because it’s kind of blown over and I’m interested:

Forget your thoughts on the legitimacy of this poll in particular. Sara doesn’t consider herself feminist – makes sense in that she says she supports choice in childcare as much or more for the sake of the children. I don’t see that it is necessarily un-feminist to think of it that way in that I consider it pro-woman because I think it gives women more flexibility in accomplishing what they want for their life and their kid’s lives. Its a moot point because nobody knew Sara doesn’t think of herself as feminist until after she was on the poll. She didn’t want or ask to be taken off and the CBAers hadn’t thought of asking everyone nominated to the category and who their judge considered to be feminist if they thought so themselves. Since it’s not concretely definable – as many commenters and the judge have said – just because you’re a woman, it doesn’t make you a feminist, maybe that would make sense to do in another year.

I’m curious about the reasons the judge gave – like about “the stripper”, daycare, or freedom of speech. So this isn’t about rejecting the reasons she gave, it’s about what you would say about them if you were judging.

The CBA judge rejected one blogger as a feminist because she’s “a stripper”. Said fern hill in the comments at NorthernBC Dipper’s place: “‘One was a stripper. . . ‘ Where to begin?” I mentioned in the comments of my last post that Wonder Woman (believed to be “the stripper”) attracts readers in ways that you could definately say does not do much for women bloggers being taken seriously.

– Would you exclude stripper-bloggers from the feminist category? Does Wonder Woman reduce female bloggers to being more about how they look instead of how they write – making it difficult for women to be recognized on their merits? Maybe since the blogosphere in particular can be anonymous it doesn’t really affect other women bloggers… Or should it actually be points in her favour that she uses the female figure to influence her readers. After all a lot of male bloggers do that – arguably she is taking that turf back from them and denying them a monopoly on gaining readers in that way. Is it a concession to the skewed values of our culture that women who get ahead by posing in ways that men crave are now celebrated for it – or is it just dealing with the way things are? Doesn’t it contribute to body image pressure, to the point that some feminists now say they find burkas liberating? Damned, damned if I know. What’s your take?

– how would advocating free speech be feminist?
(and “advocating hate speech” then not be?)

– Daycare: What about what the CBA judge said, how that if a person advocates choice in childcare that can be included as feminist if they believe that it is good for women. ie: can there be disagreement on what is good for women and how far that goes. I think April Reign specified in the NorthernBCDipper thread that you have to support a direct subsidy of daycare spaces – not giving a tax credit to a family or single parent. What if someone thinks that a tax credit is more beneficial, and/or values the choice it offers?

– Abortion: Camille Paglia says she supports abortion even though she considers it privileging the rights of one group of individuals over another. Does a person who believes that an unborn baby/feotus is an individual have to support abortion to be feminist in your view? Is Paglia right to see Palin as a feminist despite opposing abortion or is she wrong to think supporting abortion is a benefit to women – do you think that unrestricted abortion hurts women? Does feminism to you require that only the benefit to women be considered?

Update… invitation links (some were sent by email): Because I really must know what the consensus is on stripper bloggers

Validating, yet oddly displacing

December 20, 2008

Apparently I think like someone with a minor in Women’s studies:

I felt the reason’s that Choice for Childcare was initially considered a feminist blog was because it pertained the issue of both choice for women, and for dealing with daycare (an issue that affects both single and married women). Unlike Small Dead Animals or some of the other conservative ‘feminist’ blogs, the arguments were based on economic principals under the assumption that these would benefit women, not something like religious reasons (that Suzanne provided for her arguments about abortion) or the simple fact that she was a woman. In fact, some of the ones eliminated were women, but appeared to me to be anti-feminist (a contradiction for the category they appeared in). One was a stripper, the others argued for free speech – which may have been a compelling argument for having them included in the feminist category if it was so heavily in favour of hate speech. Many didn’t seem to display an understanding of feminist logic. Choice for Childcare was using economic arguments for her position. In many of the classes I’ve attended, both in economic and women’s studies, this was the single most advancing portion of the feminist movement other than historical arguments themselves.

If feminism cannot include advocating for choice for women in daycare what would that say about feminism? (context)

Update… Specifically, in light of what’s quoted above, my feminist moment:

…having a rule like that on the books could make it harder for women to get jobs because with a choice between a woman and a man employers might tend to pick the one who can’t sue the company because they believe they’re being underpaid because of gender discrimination – especially if it’s a small company that’s gotten burned before. 

It’s not that they’re scared of Muslims

December 18, 2008

BlazingCatFur says that the Canadian Human Rights Commission took a pass on condemning some pretty blatant hate because they are bigots who are only interested in going after white Christians.

And he linked to a post by Mark Steyn saying it’s because they’re just scared of Muslims:

There’s no logical answer except the one we already knew – that, while the bullies of the “human rights” regime are happy to beat up penniless pastors in Alberta and while Lucy Warman, the CJC and other cardboard crusaders get their jollies hunting down every birdbrained “Nazi” posting witless drivel on unread websites from his mum’s basement, they have no desire to tangle with the most explicit and well-funded source of “intolerance” in today’s world. If the point of the Lynch mob’s draconian powers is to protect “human rights”, they’re useless: “honor killings” will become all but routine but they’ll still be obsessing about some adolescent with a swastika tattoo and second-hand jackboots.

I think you’re on to something Mark. There is a logical answer and it is bigotry – but not the way BlazingCatFur thinks. You’re almost right. The commissions act in this way because at some level the “Lynch mob’s” powers aren’t about protecting human rights.

It’s not that the CHRC is skittish about Muslims or bigoted against Christians – it’s that they are bigoted towards non-white people.

It’s that what they care about is the moral, shall we say, cleanliness of their own and it’s no skin off their back if the “other” does or says something awful enough that they would normally condemn it. The CHRC cares if there are white people, however marginalized, doing or saying things that reflect badly on white people as a group. They care if some loser wears a swastika because they are concerned with the moral reputation of white people. Some imam wrote things that make the Albertan pastor’s article look like love and daisies? So what. The CHRC doesn’t care because they don’t give a s**** about brown people. It’s no concern of theirs if racism, sexism, and homophobia are accepted or spread in “that” culture.

That’s my take, and I’ll tell you what makes me confident about it. It might make sense that the commissions were bigoted towards Boissoin but that can’t explain the Alberta government’s support for their ruling can it? The Alberta government doesn’t care about Boissoin’s rights because they care about white Alberta’s reputation. As I wrote in this post, this behavior is partially motivated by an old trick. Machiavelli had a tip for rulers – occasionally purge officials for corruption. Didn’t matter if they were particularly corrupt, in fact better if they weren’t egregious offenders because that lets the other officials know they aren’t secure. What mattered was that everybody know that the good prince was fighting corruption.

The good commissioners are fighting racism, they’re fighting homophopia, they’re fighting sexism – and they’re only doing it on behalf of their racial group. Only someone that can symbolize white racism or homophobia will do. Ezra reprinted Boissoin’s article and Ezra didn’t even go to trial. It’s because Boissoin is two things Ezra is not. Ezra doesn’t actually share Boissoin’s particular view. And Ezra isn’t white. He’s no use to white people in purging these things from their character and reputation. He cannot symbolize white homophobia.

Why Boissoin and not Ezra? Why is Richard Warman offended by white males on behalf of people he is not? It’s because Warman isn’t offended on their behalf. He’s offended on his behalf, as a white person. It’s not explicit and it’s not understood by them. I’ve said before that crediting them with understanding this motivation and acting intentionally on it would be both too cruel and too kind. White Guilt has taken an interesting turn.

It’s the racial Machiavellianism of Canada’s Human Rights Commissions.

Update – Weaknesses (apologies in advance for putting everything in quotes):

WL Mackenzie gives an alternate explanation about deconstructing the “majority culture” and entrenching a particular political group. It reminds me of that idea being artfully put by Fenris Badwulf in “No Justice For Nigoons“. I see liberal antipathy towards the “majority culture” as an expression of the “majority ethnic group” despising things that, to quote BlazingCatFur again, are associated with white hegemony. So it’s not the minority culture, it’s the majority or at least members of the majority who deconstruct not the majority culture, but things they think give the majority culture a bad rap. Again this seems best confirmed by the Alberta government’s tack with the Boissoin case. My argument in the previous post that I linked to in this one put it this way:

 It has been remarked that the fact that this happened with the support of the government in conservative Alberta shows how far Canada has breached it’s commitment to freedom of speech. The truth is that this happened in Alberta precisely because it has a reputation as very conservative with the connotations of white bigotry and homophobia that go along with that. Alberta’s reputation has the most to gain through the racial Machiavellianism of a public scapegoating of an individual “white” through what amounts to a show trial in order to show that Alberta as a whole rejects the particular ill of racism or homophobia which that individual symbolizes. A reputedly conservative province in a supposedly free country has prejudiced the rights of an individual whose ideas are associated with conservativism to the extent that EGALE – a gay rights organization – has spoken out against it, saying that attacking Boissoin’s rights are ultimately a threat to all individual rights. There is little reason to think that the Stelmach government is motivated by bigotry against white Christians. Instead it is the racial Machiavellianism of our day that makes Alberta the likeliest of places for this to happen.

For some the deconstruction of the “majority culture” (the quotes? I consider it very racially chauvanist that white liberals associate Christianty with their racial group – there are reasons for that, but for God’s sake there have been Christians in Africa for over a thousand years longer than North America) is out of a desire to subsume that culture… to pull a comforting blanket of “other” cultures over white guilt – ie: the suicide of the west. Actually I mentioned a suicidal instinct and noted the aspect of the entrenchment of a political group in another post about this

I think that what we are seeing with the Boissoin case especially comes more from a desire to protect the majority by symbolically rejecting things “associated with white hegemony”.

But the weaker point is… Why does the CJC support the HRC’s so much if this is all about white people? Doesn’t that suggest that Ezra gets a bye because – even if George Jonas was right to say in his memoir that just when Jews finally became Europeans, Europeans became the new Jews – the HRC’s are about protecting potentially vulnerable groups from the majority? It’s something I talked about again in the post I just quoted, but I also think there’s a lot of truth to that. Certainly, regardless of how effective speech restrictions might be, the CJC can reasonably fear anti-semitism from the ethnic group it came from in its worst form before. The reason it breaks down for me as the only or even primary explanation is that Ezra is in a stronger position to advance the viewpoint Boissoin was put on trial for even if he isn’t quite white and the imam who said incomparably more hateful things is also in a stronger position in advocating his views specifically as a religious figure, in a culture where he is likely to have greater sway. Recall that Boissoin prefaced his attack on what he sees as gay politics with an expression of care and concern for gay individuals. (or for him, individuals who struggle with gayness)

You could see it as a combination of the commissioners being genuinely concerned for any level of threat to gays heightened by a desire to expunge “homophobia” from “white culture” but also being so racist to “brown people” they see as being represented by the imam that threats to gays from that culture just don’t register for them – again, who cares if “that” culture is characterized by these things.

Ultimately, it’s about the politics – these contradictions are explainable only if the commissions are less concerned with threats to gay individuals (and women and “infidels”) than with threats to the reputation and political culture of the white majority.