From Romeo and Juliet to “Ass” and “Hole”

I filled in for a high school English teacher one day who had left the following instructions: “Have the students rewrite one of the two scenes from Romeo and Juliet – either the balcony scene or the fight scene – into contemporary English.”

“Okay,” I said to the class, “this can be lots of fun, let’s take a look. Open your books to the fight scene, please, and imagine it: you have these guys raging at each other, and they’ve been doing it for years; they’re going to fight now, and they’re going to fight so hard a couple of them end up stabbed to death. Now instead of shouting ‘A plague o’ both your houses!’, Mercutio would say, if it were today, he’d say maybe ‘Fuck you!’, right? Okay, go ahead, see if you can translate the whole scene.”

The students did indeed have lots of fun. And the principal had hysterics. Read the rest of this entry »

Share

Wedding Leave

I recently discovered that my workplace has ‘wedding leave’: apparently you can get up to three days off—with pay. What the fuck is going on here?

I mean, what’s a wedding? It’s just a big party. Should employees be allowed to have personal parties on company time? I think not.

Oh, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime party. Well, no, Read the rest of this entry »

Share

Libraries: what are they and so what?

So I was working in my local public library the other day – well, trying to work. I was distracted by the kid on the computer next to me who was playing a computer game. My first point. Is it appropriate for kids to be allowed to play computer games on the computers in public libraries? I suggest that libraries are repositories of knowledge that people either peruse to borrow or access on-site.[1] Given that, playing computer games should not occur in a public library. Libraries aren’t entertainment centers. Yes, perusing and accessing knowledge can be fun. But that doesn’t mean that that which is fun is necessarily perusing or accessing knowledge.

Furthermore, Read the rest of this entry »

Share

The Little Birdies?

So I’m out walking today, and as I pass a neighbour tending his bird feeder, I wave.

And the guy calls out to me “I’m feeding some seed to the little birdies!”

The little birdies? What am I, twelve?

No, I’m female. (I have a hard time believing that he would’ve said the same thing to a middle-aged man.)

And (many) men talk to women differently than they do to men. They talk to us like we’re children. Idiot children.

Share

No Advertising

Imagine a “No Advertising’ rule. Whenever you wanted to buy something, you’d just look it up in a central directory with a really good search engine that enabled you to see all of your options (a select few based on your preferences) accompanied by product information. Or you could just choose from the selection offered by whatever store you went to.

Most magazines, newspapers, radio stations, and television stations would die. The ones that are just tools of the companies who use them for advertising. The ones supported by people genuinely interested in reading, listening, and watching what they have to offer would live on. Read the rest of this entry »

Share

The Illegality of Assisted Suicide

Let’s say assisted suicide is illegal because it’s often a tragic, premature, perhaps even ill-informed, death. But so is unassisted suicide.

And there are alternatives to assisted suicide – better pain management, for example, or counselling. Same goes for unassisted suicide.

Assisted suicide violates our social values, our respect for life. Yeah, well. And yet unassisted suicide is legal because ‘It’s your life’. Read the rest of this entry »

Share

Some sports are just too dangerous

‘Some sports are just too dangerous for women. They might get hurt.’

Oh please. This from the sex that makes beating someone senseless part of the game.

And has its reproductive vitals hanging by a thread at bull’s-eye of the body with nary a half-inch layer of fat for protection. (What’s next in the evolution of the male, a brain growing outside the skull?) (Oops, been there – )

The sex that got the girls’ and boys’ bicycle designs backwards.

And competes on the pommel horse. Voluntarily.

Do I need to point out that women’s musculature is generally more elastic, rendering it less prone to injury? And that women seem to have a better developed survival instinct? We duck. We run the fuck the other way. And we don’t make insupportable claims about our opponent’s sexual preferences or those of her parents.

Share

The Gender of Business

Business is male. Make no mistake. Everything about it smacks of the male mentality.

First, the obsession with competition. You have to be #1, you have to outcompete your competition. So hierarchy, rank, is everything. As is an adversarial attitude. It doesn’t have to be that way. Business could be a huge network of co-operative ventures, each seeking to better the whole. But no, we have to be better than, stronger than, faster than – Read the rest of this entry »

Share

An Open Letter to Summer People Everywhere

This is not “a recreational paradise” or “a summer playground”. This is our neighbourhood.

Those labels are marketing ploys used by real estate agents and business owners eager to make money on sales. They do not speak for us. We live here; they do not.

Many of us have lived here for five, ten, twenty years. Half of us are retired; half of us still work. We live here because we want to live on a lake in a forest. We love to look out at the water and see the sun sparkle, the moonlight shimmer. We love to hear the birds and see the squirrels at our feeders; we stand in awe when we see the occasional moose or bobcat. We sit out in the evening and look up at the starry sky. We open our windows at night to hear the loons as we fall asleep. We love the peace and quiet; we bask in the solitude.

So when you ‘summer people’ come here on the weekends and do whatever the hell you want, of course we consider it an invasion. And of course we want our neighbourhood back.

When you come here, you’re not leaving the city and driving to a place where you can ‘let loose’ – you’re simply leaving your own neighbourhood and entering ours.

When we have asked, politely, that you not drive so fast in your pick-ups, we were told we don’t own the road. (And to prove it, you sped up as you passed us, spraying gravel in our faces.)

When we have asked, politely, that you not come so close to us on your seadoos, you have screamed at us “You don’t own the fucking lake!”

True enough. But this is not a public campground: it is not empty before you arrive, it does not exist solely for your pleasure, it is not empty when you leave. Did you really think no one lives here?

Right. Okay. Read the rest of this entry »

Share

Permitting Abortion and Prohibiting Prenatal Harm

I think abortion should be allowed. And I think prenatal harm (especially that caused by ingesting various legal and illegal substances while pregnant) should not be allowed. Some accuse me of hypocrisy or, more accurately, maintaining a contradictory position: either women have the right to control what happens to their bodies or they don’t. No problem. Women, and men, have that right except when it causes harm to someone else: I can move my arms any way I want except straight into your face.

Ah, you may jump up and down, you said ‘someone else!’ So the fetus is a person! That’s why you’re saying prenatal harm is wrong! So that makes abortion wrong too! You can’t have it both ways!

Yes I can. The fetus can be a person and it may still be okay to abort. Killing in self-defence is permissible; killing in mercy is permissible. So if the pregnancy or birth poses a risk to me, I can kill the fetus. Or if the fetus is discovered to have some awful excruciatingly painful genetic disease, I can kill it. (I should kill it.)

Not only Read the rest of this entry »

Share