22.8.12

The Post-Game Wrap Up

I feel like I'm walking through water, deep and salty. Maybe these are the tears that have been held back, that tremble at the brim but never topple. I don't remember how to cry. I am soaked, brined, in my own unwasted tears.

I feel like my mouth has been invaded and hornets have built a nest. I can't breath. All that emits when I try to talk is the buzzing noise of a million thoughts hived together in one congealing, sticky mass.

I feel like an old woman, bent double from swollen joints and shrinking bones, hardly able to carry her own weight. Pulling behind me, like a cart of groceries, a wagonload of children, their baggage and mine. I'm not sure my body can bear this pressure.

I feel tired. And sad. And scared.

But I feel the relief and freedom of self-determined destiny.

And that makes the rest worth it, in the end.


11.7.12

Who Should Tell: On Child Sexual Abuse


Sandusky, Boy Scouts Canada, and revived memories of Mount Cashel and the Roman Catholic church – there are a lot of people reading and thinking about child sexual abuse these days.

We’ve come a long way since the coverups of earlier decades, but as the Scouts Canada controversy shows, many people still don’t understand how or why child sexual abuse is reported.

There seems to be a misconception that a child is abused, tells a trusted adult, and the situation is dealt with in the courts and through the judicial system. In actual fact only a small percentage of children disclose their abuse in childhood. And of those that do, a large percentage are faced with an adult who either doesn’t believe them, doesn’t respond appropriately, or doesn’t take the required action. 

“Why didn’t they tell?” is a common reaction to allegations of past sexual abuse. Some even take the position that if a child didn’t tell when it was happening, then it is possible it never happened at all. Marketing campaigns aimed at children – badly aimed in the opinion of one survivor – tell children to disclose. But we have done little as a society to address the real issue – that of the bystanders who suspect but never say a word.

In her essay on the subject, Good Men Project contributor Gretl Claggett wrote: 
"But why didn’t you say something?" people ask; and, unintentionally or not, their tone often incriminates. Perhaps that’s because they only see me, the adult—not the five, nine or 13-year-old I once was. While ‘good touch, bad touch’ talks may help, children can’t be expected to carry the burden of awareness and prevention.
And yet this is often what we ask and even expect them to do. We’ve all seen the ads directed at children telling them that they should tell someone about their abuse. But as one survivor says, “no child would notice those ads. There are no flashy colours, bright toys, tasty treats. When I was a kid I noticed Toucan Sam and the Cocopuffs rabbit, not some sad-eyed kid talking on the TV.”


And no advertising campaign will ever make up for all the inhibitions against disclosure. As that same survivor, who choses to remain anonymous says:
 Childhood is a confusing time. We’re told that hitting isn’t right but our parents spank us and friends hit us and no one suffers any repercussions. We’re told that stealing isn’t right, but Daddy brings home pens from the office and Mommy picks up a dime dropped in a parking lot. There’s no gray zone in a child’s mind. What adults do is right. What they say is hardly ever true. Even if an adult had sat down with me and said ‘no one should ever touch you like that,’ I would’ve taken it in the same way I took in statements that my brothers shouldn’t hit me. They did. That was life. Should and shouldn’t didn’t enter into it.
And the fact is, between abuses, I didn’t think about it. Or tried not to. If my abusers weren’t around, I could live a ‘normal’ life. And if they were around, they were surrounded by adults that facilitated them and turned a blind eye. Of course I knew it was wrong. It hurt. It terrified me. But so did getting my scraped knee cleaned. I could normalise the experience. I had to in order to survive.
Expecting children to disclose abuse is ridiculous. Looking at the numbers from Scouts Canada, of 486 cases of abuse reported since 1947, 328 were already known to authorities before Scouts Canada became aware. Those 328 cases are likely instances where an individual became known to authorities through other actions such as purchasing child pornography, or where an adult came forward years later to report abuse.
In a study released by Save the Children Sweden, titled “Why Didn’t They Tell Us: On Sexual Abuse inChild Pornography,” authors looked at the cases of 22 children who had been sexually abused and were old enough and physically able to talk about it. None of the children self-reported the abuse. Most of them suffered at least a year of abuse. “The children had kept this to themselves and had not talked about this to parents, friends, siblings, relatives or to some other adult. This is a very compelling argument that children do not at all, or very reluctantly, talk about sexual abuse. This is also a very formidable contrast to the idea that children invent or make false accusations of sexual abuse.”

Authors found that the average amount of time the children – and this was a small subset of children whose abuse was later discovered without them reporting – lived with their “secret” was 44 months. Other reports and studies have found an average of five years before a child reports any abuse activities. This does not mean that all cases are reported within five years, but that of that small percentage of cases that are disclosed by the victim, it takes approximately five years for the disclosure to happen.

Those are not the important numbers, though. The important numbers are those like the 129 files on reported abuse from 1947 to 2011 that Boy Scouts Canada never passed on to authorities. Or if that’s too hard to remember, think of the number three. Only about one in three children report their abuse. Most have to report it to at least three adults before someone takes action.

In every case of child sexual abuse, there is someone who knows, who suspects, or who just feels funny about it all. Predators groom children who are easily taken in. They also groom the adults around them by making it hard to believe they would do such things. But adults have better ability to discern when they are being manipulated. Adults have a responsibility to care for vulnerable children. Children do not have a responsibility to take care of themselves.

“I did tell,” one survivor says, “I told one person.  Maybe I didn’t use the right words. Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough. But what child can make anything clear? She didn’t do anything about it. I assumed no one would. So I just lived with it.”

Children shouldn’t have to “live with it,” and they shouldn’t be made to feel like it is their responsibility to stop it. It is our responsibility to step out of the bystander role and take action for our children. According to a CBC report, of those 129 unreported Boy Scout cases, commissioner Steve Kent said “We found examples of individuals being unsure of how to report abuse, or whether it was necessary to report. In some cases, an offence was thought to be inappropriate for a Scouts leader, but not necessarily criminal in nature, and therefore did not require reporting to authorities.”

That’s not good enough. Maybe instead of asking why children don’t tell and trying to teach them to tell, it’s time we concentrated more effort on making it clear that adults must tell.

21.5.12

Bird is the Word

I have no clue what that means. Honestly. Why do people say "bird is the word." Is it another one of those inane pop culture references I don't get? Do "people" even say it, or is a Newfoundland thing?

I remember hearing a song ages ago tha referenced that line, but it was an old song. So why is it all new again? I know I could google this and find the answer in moments, but I refuse to. Cause I can't frigging keep up with these language culture intrustions that I just don't get.

Would you like a "for instance?" No, I know you wouldn't. But I got nothing better to write about tonight.

Actually, I do, but I haven't got the time to invest in a good post. So you're stuck with me moaning about language and pop culture and the death of meaning again.

Sorry bout that.

No. Not really.

Some examples of words and phrases (I did the icons thing last time, you didn't really think I was done moaning about how meaningless modern life truly is, did you?) that annoy me, confuse me, or make me gassy with intolerance are:

Chuffed
Where the hell did this word come from all of a sudden? Why is every second FB update now "I'm well chuffed that..." What is my problem with this?

Okay, well, first of all, I hate anything that's overused. It's kinda like I hate sandwiches because I ate one every day, Monday to Friday, from age six to age twelve. There's something about overexposure that just turns my stomach.

Second of all, I don't always know what it means. And I hate not knowing stuff. But it's not me being a moron. It actually is one of those words with dual, opposing meanings. So you're either pleased, proud, ecstatically happy when you use it or displeased, slightly disgruntled, maybe even crazily apoplectic when you use it.

If you say, for instance, "I was chuffed that the baby was born looking so much like my wife," do I take that to mean that you think your wife is beautiful and are adamantly proud that the baby looks like her? Or does it mean that you suspect your wife was getting it on with another bloke and were hoping the baby's nose would be a tell?

See the problem here?

Finally. Chuffed. It's a sound train engines make. I think of Thomas the Tank Engine whenever I read or hear it. And I've managed to avoid the obsession with Thomas with both my boys. Think of the poor mothers who haven't. Take pity on them. You monsters!

So now I've pissed off most of you by letting you know that when you open your mouths all I hear is train engines switching tracks, how about some more examples? Yeah, I knew you'd be interested.

Okay, how about
(fill in the blank) Nazi
La Leche League does not burn babies in the hot fires of their oppresive view that formula fed children are lesser thans. Grammarians do not stick you in the gas chamber for using it's when you should've used its. And that dude on Seinfeld that wouldn't sell the soup - totally not like starving people for months on end while forcing them to engage in slave labour and playing petty little experiments on what they would do to prevent starvation.

Henceforth, unless you are referring to this man

or his followers, don't use the word Nazi. Be inventive. Come up with a word that actually means something other than a political idealogy opposed to the parasitical behaviours of Jews.

Oh, did that description make you cringe and squirm a little? Well that's what the word means. That and idealogically driven, crazed killer of anyone that did not meet the criteria of selection for the master race (okay, well maybe people who confuse its and it's do belong in that part..... kidding)

I'm allowed to joke about its vs. it's because I'm one of those fast-typing retards that makes that mistake sometimes without even thinking about it.

Either word in that sentence give you pause? One of those words people use without even thinking about it? Want to talk about cringe-worthy phrasing? If I hear you use the word retard in an offhanded or insulting way than I assume you're the village fool.

It's true. I've used the word on very rare occasions myself, with people I love and trust, to indicate its actual, literal meaning - that of the condition of being arrested in development.

But call me politcally correct Chrissy, I would never use it publically or in a joking way. Anyone that's read my stuff knows I take offense with words used to describe certain peoples used as insults. Or the way we just plain insult people by making fun of their differences. And I hate the way pop culture has gloamed onto this particular one again.

Gah. Heh. OMG. You asshats using these words make me want to *facepalm.


 Photo Credit

25.4.12

Things I'm Not Cool Enough to Love

I just don't get it.

There are these things that EVERYONE loves. And it's kinda like that thing that EVERYONE knew back in Elementary School where you pretended to know it too and would totally play along but were always afraid of getting caught as being THE ONE PERSON who doesn't really understand it.

And I'm sick of lying and worrying about getting caught. It's just too much stress everytime I open FB or Twitter and see these posts. I mean, I HAVE to respond, right? Cause if I don't, people might realise that I have NO FRIGGING CLUE what they're talking about. But if I respond inappropriately, well, then everyone will know I'm just a GREAT BIG FAKER.

Of course, the response seems to just be to repeat the name of the thing that's cool.

For instance:

If someone posts a picture like this
Photo Credit


The appropriate response is "OMG! Ryan Gosling." - hint: if he looks like you might recognise him from some movie and the photo is being posted by a female who is also being all gushy about him than 99.9% certainty it is, indeed, Ryan Gosling. Another clue would be if he has a smarmy hipster photoshopped phrase appearing over his picture saying something like "Girl, you go dip yourself a cool drink of well water while I pluck that chicken and stoke the fire to roast it."

If, for some reason you suspect it may not be Ryan Gosling - hint: it always is - than you can say something more generic like "OMG! Loves him!" Or you can repeat part of the photoshopped phrase with "He can" proceeding it, like"He can stoke my fire any day" or "He can pluck my chicken whenever he wants."

The thing I don't get though is, well, why the heck is everyone in love with Ryan Gosling? And how do I hire his publicist?

But it's not just Ryan Gosling I don't get. I also don't get this:

Photo Credit
I mean, I like bacon as an occasional treat - if my kids leave me any. And as a child I was totally amused by the fact that it was the PIG'S ASS that it came from - I told ALL my friends. And everytime I ate it I said "mmmmm, asssssssss," which usually earned me a slap across the head from my mother but was totally worth it. Yet, okay, childhood reminiscence aside, WHAT THE HECK is it with bacon? I don't even get the bacon obsession but what I REALLY don't get is the food-made-to-look-and-taste-like-bacon lovefest that's going on on the interwebs. Cause, yeah, bacon....it's the pig's ass (I am totally going to appropriate that phrase now to refer to things that are totally cool but you don't know why).

Anyway, I am well trained enough to realise that the expected response when a friend posts this is "OMG! Bacon!" or, if you're not absolutely certain if it's supposed to resemble bacon or not but it is definitely a foodstuff than you can say "omnomnom" (a phrase which I also don't get). And if it's like some crocheted semblance of bacon and especially if they've announced they made it themselves, you are not to respond with "what the fuck is that and why did you waste your time making it and punish my eyes with this photo of it?" The appropriate response is "Cute!" (please, do not forget the exclamation marks! Without them one may doubt your sincerity, especially if you have a tendency toward sarcasm!)

There are other things I really don't get, like
  •  those supposed "spank bank" images for women of men doing housework. (I prefer sex to clean floors, personally)
  • cats with big eyes (totally scary and weird - they already stalk you)
  • adult mouths imposed on children's faces (creepy and never done right)
  • cupcakes made to look like anything but cupcakes (what's wrong with cupcakes? They're no pig's ear; they're silk purses. Leave em alone)
  • food porn in general (food only makes me wet when I spill soup in my lap)
  • big tits - you know, the really humungous ones (is there such a thing as too big? Like if she needs to hold them up with both hands and have counterbalancing silicone implanted in her ass?)

But they're a little more complicated and require more than just repeating the name of the image back. Of course, now that I've given away just how uncool I am no one is going to want to continue to read my blog anyway. BUT if you decide to take pity on nerdy ol' me than I'll write more on those other things I don't get later. I might even write seriously about them. Who knows.

One thing I do know is that I'm craving a cupcake made to look like Ryan Gosling but that tastes like bacon right now.

Not.


17.4.12

Dear Randy - and the Rest: An Apology - of sorts.

Dear Randy,

I do apologise for two things:
  1. I singled you out in my last post. After hearing the audio I realise that it was not just you that was offensive, it was the entire HitsFM morning crew. You did not deserve to be singled out. Your entire station was at fault.
  2. I titled my last post on this issue “Don’t Be a Boob.” I intended that to be merely a play on fairly innocent words. However, as was pointed out to me, it could be taken as an insult. I freely admit that I did not consider that at that time and I am fully repentant if you felt insulted by it. I have offered to change the title. I have not done so yet because there are comments about that title, and to change it would make those comments look ridiculous and put them completely out of context. If you were offended, are offended, by my use of that phrase, I will immediately change it. It was not my intention to personally insult you.
Dear Randy, Kayleigh, and Brian,

I do not apologise for saying that your comments were offensive. They were. Nor for saying they were ignorant. They were. The fact that you – and those who support you – continue to argue that they were not frankly sickens me. If someone – especially more than one person – indicates to you that you were offensive, than you must understand that you did, indeed, offend them.
Whether the intent was there to be offensive or not is not important.

I have seen the “apologies” to some who wrote in. You continue to argue that people should not be offended. Well, I was. And after hearing from a number of other people who were, I decided to stand up for our rights.

What you said and the tone in which you said it was not directed solely at Mayim Bialik. You made very general, sweeping statements about women who breastfeed and especially those who do it for longer than what you  (and any number of opinionated but wrong people, as I’ve come to realise) consider “normal.”

Even if they had been directed solely at Mayim, how does that make it any better? Insult one person or insult a group of people, you’re still insulting.

If such comments had been made about the colour of her skin, her physical ability, her sexuality or any other identifiable “minority” concern it would not have been tolerated and could’ve even fallen under hate speech. But us breastfeeders are just a bunch of dippy women who don’t realise how gross we are. So we need comments like “ewww” and “there’s being attached and then there’s that…”

Those will set us straight.

In fact such statements are not only offensive but are part and parcel of a culture of shaming that takes place for women who breastfeed, and especially upon some pie-in-the-sky best age for weaning. They are sexually discriminatory. And they lead to a culture of bullying

Since responding to your comments I have been accused of any number of things. Foremost is that I am bullying you. I maintain that I did nothing of the sort. I have heard public comments made that you have received insults over this.  I did not send them. And I certainly have not seen them.

Had I seen them, I would’ve immediately contacted the person posting them and asked that they not turn this into a personal issue. After hearing Paddy Daly express on his backtalk show that you had been attacked I combed through every facebook group and tweet I could find to identify where these attacks were occurring. I didn’t find any. I personally contacted people who said you had been attacked to ask where. I received no response.

I assure you that my comments were made only in direct response to yours and that they were voiced by me because I had been asked by a number of other women to speak to this issue. A  number of other women who were also offended.

Certainly being a public figure making public comments you understand that there are times people will disagree with you. I have personally received hate mail and even haphazard death threats over things I have written about. It’s part of stating things publically, especially when you decide to take on an “issue.” That does not excuse it. But I can’t believe you were entirely surprised.

Regardless, as stated, had I been able to locate the source of these apparent attacks, I would’ve immediately called for their cessation. I don’t believe in personally attacking anyone over their opinion. I don’t support it. I will never support it. If I did I would not be myself. I would, indeed, hate myself.

On the other hand, the vast number of personal attacks against me are very public. They began on Twitter. These comments were fully sexually harassing. They were personally offensive. And they were downright nasty. At that time I checked and both the HitsFm twitter account and VOCMBacktalk were following at least one of the aggressive tweeters.  After attempting to ignore them, then asking them to stop, the barrage continued. No one defended me. No one stepped in and asked them to stop. I was left to deal with this on my own. I did it the best way I knew how, by answering like with like.

I would never had sat back and watched something similar unfold towards you.

Once I was finally able to get those comments to stop, I was asked, by other women who had been offended by your comments, if I would be calling into Paddy Daly’s show to discuss the issue. It had been made clear that it would be discussed, and these women feared that the only callers would be those that hold the same opinion as you: that what we do as nursing mothers is gross and despicable.
We’ve all heard it before. Many times. Our only surprise was that it came from such a public identity.

Trust me. I had other things to do. But I also had work to do for my community. I am a breastfeeding advocate - as I am an advocate for any other number of things. And when I am told that someone is afraid to speak but that they feel strongly about an issue, I do borrow their voice and speak for them. Because I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I knew it would draw the anger of ignorant people and the attention of trolls.

So I called in to Backtalk. I was shouted down when I tried to explain how your comments were offensive. My integrity and that of my friends was called into question. And finally I was asked why, if breastmilk (not, mind you, breastfeeding) was so important for my child, well why don’t I just pump off my milk and feed it to him in a cup so that no one can make rude comments.
  • Why don’t all the gay kids getting bullied at school stop acting so gay so they don’t get bullied?
  • Why don’t black people just stick with their own kind so that they don’t suffer racism?
  • Why don’t rape victims just shut up about the whole thing so no one can accuse them of being over-dramatic or lying?
  • Why don’t the disabled stop asking for all these accommodations if they don’t want to stand out?
Why? Because to ask a member of a minority group to change their actions, behaviours, or thoughts in order to accommodate the social desirability of the majority group is oppression. It is wrong. It is disgusting. And it goes against everything I – and I thought you – believe in.

And I won’t even get into the specifics of how ridiculous it is to ask a woman to spend time and money pumping just so you can be comfortable. And I'll try not to point out that you don't need to SEE a woman breastfeed to know she does breastfeed - I'm not ashamed of the fact that I breastfeed my son and I won't hide it.

As a result of the attention garnered –mostly because of the way I was attacked by your supporters -I was asked to speak on CBC radio about breastfeeding. At the time I was told that it would not be about Randy Snow. And , for the most part, it was not. It was about the comments and the culture those comments come from.

And popular media is a big part of that culture. Such a big part that people who don’t know me were encouraged to attack me because Randy Snow said he was being attacked, despite the fact that none of these people had seen these attacks. And I don’t doubt that some personal emails were received that were insulting. But I had nothing to do with that. Although the general public seems to think otherwise.

I’ve received personal emails too – ones telling me to “lay off Randy, he’s a nice guy.” And I don’t doubt that he is. In fact, that’s what I was counting on when I wrote my last post – that his decency would allow him to see how hurtful those comments were. But I never “laid on” Randy to begin with. I responded to your public comments and then I tried to clear up misconceptions about the length of time a woman should breastfeed. That is all.

For your station and your fans to say that none of this was a big deal and it means nothing is obviously a stretch of the truth. For if it hadn’t been a big deal it would’ve died. I’ve posted before about things that have offended me. They don’t always get that kind of attention. CBC contacted me because this was a story. And I accepted the interviews because as an advocate I saw it as a chance to spread a message of tolerance for breastfeeding mothers.

What it comes down to is this. This one of just a few “apology” letters I’ve seen:

What was said yesterday was in no way meant to come across as soapboxing or judgemental. What a woman chooses to do with her body and her children is entirely her choice. We would never begin to tell her what she is doing is wrong when it comes to something so personal.

The only reason it ever came up is that it was from Mayim Bayalik. Not that she isn't entitled to share her thoughts on the topic and very well could be an authority on it. It is just that she played Blossom and what we deal in primarily is pop culture.

We are actually surprised by the feedback we are getting from it. Not contructive opinions like yours but some people are being downright nasty over comments that we didn't think were in anyway controversial.

Thanks for your feedback though. It is never a bad thing to open a dialogue.
I opened a dialogue. I was attacked. During that dialogue you had a chance to see:
  1. How many women and families were also offended.
  2. How your comments are part of a bigger picture of shaming breastfeeding women for a multitude of supposed “sins.”
  3. That this is an issue of national interest, given the sharing of the news items via CBC and MSN.

You claim you weren’t being purposefully offensive? Than apologise. Because the only other alternative is that you were purposefully offensive and you’re not willing to apologise. People were offended. You’ve seen why. Your comments were hurtful and yet very recognisable to many of us. What hurts the most, though, is that you won't simply acknowledge this and apologise, but instead encourage a backlash against those who were offended.

This is the point where you say “I’m sorry.”

It’s what I would do in your shoes.

14.4.12

Comments Policy

Before I write my next post I would like to point out the new comments policy.

From now on, I will no longer respond to “anonymous” comments. Here on my blog, in my writing and other work as well as out “there” in the online world, my name and face accompany everything I say. I do this to keep myself honest. I do this to maintain my integrity. You don’t have to agree. So I have left the ability to comment anonymously open. However I will not respond to such comments and if they are inflammatory, I will remove them.


This applies across the board. If you agree with me but do so in an inflammatory way or by personally attacking another commenter your comment will also be deleted

I am sorry it has come to this, but far too many supposed adults do not have the integrity to stand behind what they say. I understand that at times, for personal reasons, people may want to remain anonymous which is why I have left the ability. But I will not tolerate abuse of anonymity.

Only once before have I deleted a comment, ironically also on a post about breastfeeding. In it, the comment author publically and personally attacked another commenter in a way I found offensive and inflammatory.

On only one other occasion before now have I stated I would delete comments. Also on a very charged issue. One in which I laid out what I see to be my role as an advocate. You might want to read that to get an idea of where I’m coming from.

Photo Credit (remixed)

12.4.12

Did You Know?

Did you know that breastfeeding protects against breast cancer? It really does. Indeed, for every year of breastfeeding, breast cancer risk is lowered by approximately 4%.

Did you know that girls that are breastfed also have a lowered risk - 17% according to one study - of developing breast cancer as an adult? (although apparently for first born children this lowered risk is not seen).

Did you know that on Friday, April 13th, HitsFM, of previous blog fame, will be having a Pay and Play event to raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation?

What a perfect pair, breastfeeding promotion and breast cancer fundraising! (Yes, that pun was intended)

And did you know that there are some great breastfeeding songs out there?

Like this Hip Hop Number, "Food For Thought," by Njeri Earth.

There's this one, too, though they probably can't play it on the radio as I'm not sure there's an audio recording:


Then there's the animated version of the punk rock all-mom band The Mothers song Milk Pistols, transformed into the Cowgirls (note, if requesting this song it is by The Mothers, not the Cowgirls, but this is the video)

11.4.12

Dear Randy Snow: Don't Be a Boob

Dear Randy Snow,

I could write you as a parenting columnist. Or as a parenting advocate. I could write as a breastfeeding advocate or in some kind of official role.

But I'm writing as a parent. As the mother of a three and a half year old boy, like Mayim Bialik's Fred. Like Fred, my boy also continues to nurse. In all the things I do day-to-day parenting-wise, it's the one thing I KNOW I'm not doing wrong. The one thing. Honestly.

But, apparently, you think it's wrong. I'm not sure why. I have no idea why you even had to comment on it. And why that comment had to be so judgmental and offensive is beyond me. The truth is, Randy, I didn't hear your comment. Because, frankly, I'm not a listener. But I heard of your comment and the tone in your voice as you ridiculed Mayim for continuing to breastfeed.
"In the book, she talks about how she breastfeeds her three-and-a-half-year-old son, Fred. Three and a half! What?! I just got over Alicia Silverstone's bird-feeding thing with her son, and now this?!"
UPDATE: You can access the audio here. It wasn't just Randy and it's worse than I originally reported. Scroll down to the media player: 99.1HitsFM
UPDATE2: They've taken it down. I meant to record it before they did. But, you know, life gets in the way.

But do you know, Randy, that when you said that, you didn't just ridicule Mayim. You didn't even "just" ridicule every mother out there who breastfeeds into the toddler and preschool years. You ridiculed children. Little three-and-a-half-year old children. Your ridiculed MY SON, Randy. And that's not acceptable. Not in the least.

It might seem wrong to you, that my son, who indeed is no longer a baby, continues to breastfeed. But it has nothing to do with you. Nothing at all. And unlike the standard stunned member of the public at the mall, you're a voice that people listen to. So when you comment on something that has nothing to do with you two things happen:
  1. You strengthen the voice of those who also feel appropriate commenting on things that have nothing to do with them - their judgmental opinion is now "celebrity-endorsed."
  2. You  feed into a systemic cultural practice of judging - especially parents - on things that are a matter of personal choice.

And the third thing you do? Watch this video clip of my little boy. Pay careful attention to the 55 second mark.







You make my son question something he loves.

Read that again, Randy. And let it sink in... you made a little boy feel sad.

My son loves breastfeeding. It's not the only thing he loves, but, yes, it's in his top-ten for sure. He loves the bonding time with me. He loves the "deelicious" milk. He loves how it soothes and relaxes him.

And I love it too. The part I especially love is knowing that I am doing everything humanly possible to grant him a long and healthy life. My milk didn't suddenly lose its health benefits and antibodies or even its nutritive value when he turned one or two years old. It's all still there. And given that he has a disorder that means that tumours can grow in his body anytime anywhere and breastmilk is the one known safe anti-tumorgenic substance I can give him, guess what? I'm not going to stop. No matter what you think or say.

But my son is sad. He's sad because people like you see fit to comment on something that he loves. They tell him he's too old for it. Or that big boys don't need it. Or even that it's foolish. People say these things to my son and it confuses him and saddens him.

And now you, a public figure, have said it. And I can't let that go. You hurt my son. You hurt the other three and four and five year olds that may have listened to your show and heard your painful words. You hurt the mothers who are trying only to do what's best for their child.

I'm not going to pay a lot of attention to what you said, Randy, because frankly I never do. We don't listen to HitsFM. We're pretty much CBC people, occasionally K-Rock, and when we want to dance in the kitchen while making supper, we tune into OZFM.

But a lot of people will pay attention. It saddens me that in a province with lowest breastfeeding rates in the nation, where our government and health authorities are working tirelessly to promote breastfeeding, someone like you can undermine all that work with a single, thoughtless, throw-away statement.

To them, all I can say is "who is Randy Snow." And what right does he have to dictate what you do? My kids understand it, I hope your audience does too...



23.3.12

And Now For Something Completely Different

You ever have one of those weeks where your children don't sleep? At all. And everything you plan to do at night when they're in bed - all those selfish things you do for yourself, like blog, don't get done?

Yeah. I'm having one of those. So although I want to respond to the comments on my last post and I also wanted to get a post up for World Poetry Day, I haven't and I didn't.

Better late than never right?

I was working on something else but it's turning out good enough that I might submit it somewhere. So can't share with ye lot. Sorry. You get one from the dustbin instead. Pleased? I'm sure you are.


An Ocean of Contrary

My son is an array
of outward tags and haphazard buttons
gaudily adorned with
hasty, crooked tie and
blanketswept hair.

School mornings are misery:
face fogged with the envy
of unpossessed playmates,
pockets stuffed with
provoking toys.

At night he becomes
a squawking seagull:
voice shrilling down darkened hallway;
wings beating against the mattress.
The blanket lifts in the sweep of them.

Morning  spits out
 a flagged turtle.
Stilted and slow his eyes shatter open.
Hatred pours from his surface
like the smell of tar in summer.

Front door open and shoulder
slung with day’s weapons,
his wave freezes in crescendo
as he smiles the words I love you,
and screams at the gathering snow.

18.3.12

False Feminists in Politics

I still remember when Kim Campbell became the first female Prime Minister of Canada. As a young teenager looking for female role models and tiring of Thatcher and Mother Theresa as my sole sources (okay, perhaps I exaggerate), I was excited to see a feminist representative leading our country. Sure she got the job by default, but hey, we'll take it however we can get it. It was easy to get swept up in the fanfare of her victory.

Yet, despite Campbell's assertions otherwise, she was not really a feminist. Sure, she said she was, claimed she was raised to be one. However she made the distinction that "all feminists do not necessarily walk in ideological lockstep." (The Politics of Kim Campbell).

Really? Because feminism is a concept, an ideal, a philosophy and a way of life. Merely believing that women should have equal opportunity or equal rights does not make you a feminist. I know it's confusing because every woman out there who has a bit of brain in her will declare herself a feminist and put her own spin on it, but feminism is not about individual freedoms, nor is it about equality - not solely. How can it be? All people are not equal, so creating equality for women, well what does that look like? Will we be equal to the white, upper class, post-doc educated men? Or to the black, immigrant, non-English speaking men?

So what is feminism, you might ask? It's too complicated to explain, right? Not really. Feminism is the fight to end sexist oppression. As a fight, it involves action. It's not something you can give mouth space to only. And in ending sexist oppression, it seeks to end ALL sexist oppression. Not just one or two areas that are easy to deal with - like rape laws - as Campbell did.

If we look at feminism according to bell hooks' definition and understand the true interconnectedness of feminism with all struggles  against supremacist capitalism than it's damn near impossible for someone such as Campbell to be a feminist. Campbell would argue that one can be a feminist without being left-leaning. But I'm not sure it's even possible to be a politician and a feminist, by rights. And it is certainly impossible to be a Conservative politician, engaged in creating wealth gaps and slashing social programming and still consider oneself a feminist.

And yet, in general, we swallow it hook, line and sinker when a woman rises to a position of power and declares herself a feminist. It's taken as both proof of the validity of the feminist promise and a victory of sorts when they do. But herein lies one of the largest dangers of false feminism, especially with regards to politics. For if some white, upper middle class women make their way into politics, or the heads of boardrooms, or CEOs of major companies, than we find ourselves facing the argument that the fight for equality is over. Wente is one of the white, upper-middle class elites who would have us believe this. I responded to her arguments before.

Not only does this false promise lead to backlash against feminists for promoting a "movement" that is no longer necessary, but often those women in the positions of power simultaneously undermine feminist principles by declaring their more left-leaning female colleagues "radical" or "liberal" feminists. I don't believe there's such a thing as a conservative feminist, but that's an argument for another day. They also tend to misrepresent feminism in order to further their own political goals.

Campbell was the first female Prime Minister of Canada, just as Kathy Dunderdale is the first female Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. Their rise to the penultimate position was similar - a sort of default. Dunderdale was given the nod by outgoing premier Danny Williams. There was no chance the PC party would lose the following election, so she was pretty much guaranteed her spot. Not that I don't believe Campbell nor Dunderdale put in the work to get their positions - but it's unfortunate that it came about the way it did, because it does allow the patriarchy to question the validity of their advancement, thus questioning the validity of any woman's advancement. By painting themselves as feminists and claiming their victory as a female victory, they paint us all like them.

There's risk in that. For individual achievements are not truly achievements for your gender. Feminism is not about an Oprah Winfrey style life. It's about making life better for all - even your political opponent, believe it or not. And this is where Dunderdale, in particular, completely fails. She started out claiming that she was bring a different perspective to politics, as a woman. Well, others have shown how false a concept that is. Merely being a woman doesn't make her approach any different than those of the men in her party. If she truly were a feminist, yes, there would be a difference.

Under Dunderdale's leadership, we saw the promise of a huge investment in childcare. And yet, what did it amount to? Pouring more money into a system that has been acknowledged worldwide not to work. Meanwhile, one of her cabinet members made it clear that parents using childcare outside the province's licensing were responsible for any abuses in care. Two women, leading our province, who would rather protect their party's status quo than protect women and children. Does that sound like any kind of feminism to you?

She promised action on employment insurance for women and parents, but she hasn't done a thing about it since.

She threw her support behind a Prime Minister who is perhaps the very antithesis of feminist principles.


But most the most disgusting, the most revolting undermining of feminist power and principle that she has engaged in happened just recently, during the House, when the topic of a "threatening" phonecall to one of her cabinet members came up. Kathy Dunderdale, former social worker and self-declared feminist, sat by while members of her party used International Women's Day and the very real issue of gendered violence to attack an opposing member.

I've read the Hansard transcripts of that day, but the whole event is best summarised in Geoff Meeker's blog. Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Natural Resources, rose to "defend" Joan Burke, Minister of Advanced Education and skills, from a phonecall, that was indeed harsh and perhaps even threatening, though I doubt it was truly intimidating, that came from Jim Bennett, Member for St. Barbe (and a Liberal).

As if it weren't bad enough that Kennedy painted himself as a defender of poor, weak, female Burke, he then goes on to compare the phonecall Burke received to sexual and spousal abuse. He completely degrades real victims of gendered violence by using the social construct of it to defend his own actions in delaying the report of this phonecall. According to Kennedy,
One of the myths that were debunked many years ago, Mr. Speaker, in terms of violence against women and reporting of everything from sexual abuse to spousal abuse was that people act immediately. There are situations, Mr. Speaker, in which people do not know what to do.
Yeah, you read that right. Not only does he minimise the true extent of such violence by using it in comparison to a single, slightly threatening phonecall, he also shows an utter lack of awareness behind the real reasons for delayed reporting or not reporting sexual and domestic violence. Perhaps someone ought to direct Kennedy to the #ididnotreport hashtag on Twitter. Fear, shame, accommodation, these are some real reasons for not reporting violence. It not being a convenient time to upset the opposing party's plans for debate is, unremarkably, not.

I can't believe that Dunderdale, who has been a member of women's status groups and worked as a social worker, would've not seen the significance of Kennedy's statements. The moment I read the transcript it was like a punch in the gut. But Dunderdale, leader of the party, Premier of the province, and supposed women's rights supporter, did nothing to halt Kennedy's ongoing attack against victims of violence.

He raises the comparison again, later in the transcripts. And again, nothing is said nor done, except by opposing members.

I'm not naive enough to think that Dunderdale would've stood up in the house and told Kennedy to shut his big gob. But I do know that she could've stopped him, at the very least stopped the comparisons he was trying to draw, quietly. And I suspect she knew exactly what he was going to say before the House opened that day.

False feminism is one thing; declaring your personal victories as feminist victories is one thing; but exploiting the real suffering of women in order to draw false conclusions for political gain? That's sexist oppression. The very thing feminism stands against.