Snowmobiles Rule – Only in Canada. Pity.

Snowmobilers are often presented as enjoying the natural beauty of the North.  Oh please.  Not at the speeds they drive.  Not while their exhaust pipes spew fumes into our air.  And their engines roar at a volume that must be endured by everyone within five miles.  And their tossed beer cans litter the forest until someone comes by and picks up after them.

What snowmobiling is all about adolescent males going VROOM VROOM.

Which means that our government has handed over thousands of miles of crown land to a bunch of young men to use as their personal racetrack.  How fair is that?  And did they ask us first?

When a friend of mine contacted the MNR to ask about putting up signs at each end of a short trail through crown land that snowmobilers are using as a short cut to get to their trail and, in the process, making it dangerous (not to mention extremely unpleasant because of the fumes and the noise) for the rest of us to use (for walking and cross-country skiing), she was told No, they can’t put up signs prohibiting snowmobilers from using it because everyone has access to crown land.  Right.  Then why do the signs on the snowmobile club trails say ‘No Trespassing – You must have a permit to use this trail’?

Why has the government done this?  Because they’re adolescent males themselves.  Who still want to go VROOM VROOM.

And because local businesses asked them to, because they want to make money from the snowmobilers.

Snowmobilers are a minority.  Local business owners are a minority.  Why do they get to determine policy and practice?  Policy and practice that affects other people?

When snowmobilers (and ATVers and dirtbikers – essentially, all motorized ‘recreational’ vehicles) use crown land the way they want, no one else can use it the way they want.  Consider the trails, mentioned above, unsafe and unpleasant now for hikers and skiers.  Consider the lake we all live on.  In winter (and in summer too – jetskis, another motorized recreational vehicle), our properties may as well be backing on, well, a racetrack.  (So much for sitting outside and – well, so much for sitting outside.  Not to mention canoeing or kayaking.)  Consider all the backroads we live on, the ones without sidewalks.  It’s nice that we can hear a snowmobile coming from miles away so we have time to get off the road, but it’s not enough to get off to the side (assuming that’s not where we already are), because that’s where the snowmobiles drive.  It’s not even enough to get off the road and up onto the snowbank, because they like to ride the banks.  You have to climb up and over the snowbanks to be safe.  In some countries, pedestrians have the right of way.  In Canada, gas-guzzling, fume-spewing, noise-farting, male-driven snowmobiles do.

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Being Josh

[Another old one, but it still applies...]

It’s Monday night basketball, an all-comers pick-up game, supposed to be fun and a good sweat. But week after week I steel myself against the anger, the frustration of not knowing how to correct the problem, and the despair of not being able to even begin to do just that. Eventually it happens: this time it’s Josh who yells at me to switch, to guard the new grade niner who’s just come onto the court to sub for the guy who’d been guarding Josh and Josh would guard the guy I’d been guarding.

I am distracted, as always, by the insult, the unwarranted assumption that I’m always the worst player there (even worse than the new grade niners) (although I’m thirty-five and played basketball throughout high school), and by the faulty logic that weak offensive players* are weak defensive players and should therefore guard other weak offensive players.

Nevertheless, I manage to focus on yet another problematic aspect of the shouted order: that it was an order, and it was given with the full expectation of compliance. How is it, I thus have occasion to wonder yet again, that a kid, a 17-year-old less than half my age, believes he can tell me what to do, believes he knows better than me? The answer is simple: he’s male. And I’m female. If I were a man over twice his age, he’d keep his thoughts to himself. And if he were a girl, he wouldn’t even have such thoughts.

When Chodorow wrote “Being and Doing”, a ground-breaking analysis of sexism in terms of passivity (of being, of women) and activity (of doing, of men), she got it right – but she also got it wrong. Josh is so easy in his authority over me simply because he’s male, simply because he is male. He hasn’t had to do anything to gain that authority, or the respect I feel myself giving him just before I catch myself acting like Pavlov’s dog. The confidence, the assurance, the arrogance that he must have to even think he can just tell me what to do – he has it just because he’s male. And he probably started developing it as soon as he realized he was indeed male: I’ve heard 5-year-old boys speak with the same kind of authority.

Women, on the other hand, have to do – we have to earn respect, we don’t just get it automatically. And I’m not sure we ever achieve any authority, no matter what we do.

And of course it’s not just respect and authority men feel entitled to just because they’re men: they also feel entitled to money (pay, and higher pay) and power (supervisory positions). In short, they feel entitled to dominance, just because of who, of what, they are (not because of what they do).

* I concede on this point, especially when I’m playing with people who are taller than me, who play with a slightly larger ball than I learned to play with, and who, most importantly, recognize only a hotshotting inside kind of game.

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Why do you read the paper every day?

Why do you read the paper (or listen to/watch the news) every day?  Certainly not for an objective account of events.  Because surely you’re aware of editorial bias – what gets in (or not), where it goes, and how much space it gets there.  And reporter bias – who gets interviewed, what gets asked (or not), and what gets put at the beginning of the piece.

And how it’s said.  To describe an incident with complete objectivity is to give a phenomenological account.  And anyone who’s taken Phenomenology 101 knows how difficult that is.  Even to say “There is a brown house” is to have made an assumption, is to have imposed your subjectivity.  You can’t see the house.  From your perspective, standing in front of it, all you see is one, or maybe two walls.  You assume there’s a third and a fourth.  Your subjectivity fills in the gaps.  All the time.

It gets worse.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Aren’t Women Funny?

Well, they are, of course.  It’s just that many men don’t find them funny.  Which is why many stand-up clubs (those managed by men) (that is, almost all of them) actually have a rule: only so many stand-ups on any given night can be women.  Too many and they kill the night.

But, of course, that’s so only in clubs where most of the audience is male.  Because, as I’ve said, men don’t find women funny.  Partly, this could be because men find farts and burps funny.  (Except, of course, when women fart and burp.  For some reason, they find that horrifying.)

The other mainstay of comedy (for both sexes) is ‘(heterosexual) relationship humour’ – so men laugh at the caricatures of women presented by men (and women laugh at the caricatures of men presented by women).

But my guess is that Read the rest of this entry »

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The Provocation Defence – Condoning Testosterone Tantrums (and other masculinities)

According to the Canadian Criminal Code (and probably a lot of other criminal codes), murder can be reduced to manslaughter if the person was provoked.  Provocation is defined as “a wrongful act or an insult that is of such a nature as to be sufficient to deprive an ordinary person of the power of self-control is provocation for the purposes of this section if the accused acted on it on the sudden and before there was time for his passion to cool” (CCC 232.(2)).

It is unfortunate that “an ordinary person” is used as the standard for judgment rather than “a reasonable person”.  The ordinary person, in my experience, is not particularly reasonable.  The ordinary person is a walking mess of unacknowledged emotions and unexamined opinions, most of which are decidedly unreasonable.

Furthermore, Read the rest of this entry »

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Testicular Battery and Tranquilizer Guns (what the world needs now is)

Given the relative vulnerability of men to sexual assault (all it takes to disable them is a swift forceful kick, or, at closer quarters, a good grab, pull, twist – almost anything, really) (whereas women have to be partially undressed and then immobilized), it’s surprising that we hear far more often about rape than – well, we don’t even have a special name for it.  Testicular battery?

Since most women are physically capable of such an assault, the reason must be some psychological social inhibition.  And, of course, this is so.  Girls are not permitted, encouraged, or taught to fight; boys are.  All three.  Women are socialized to see men as their protectors, not their enemies.  Men are – well, this is the interesting bit: men used to be socialized to see women as in need of protection, and so would never dream of raping them (well, okay, they’d dream of it – perhaps often and in technicolor – but there was a strong social stigma against assaulting the fair sex: boys were shamed if they ever hit a girl, and if you ever hit your wife, let alone another woman, well what kind of man are you?), but feminism got rid of such patronizing chivalry.

And rightly so.  Unfortunately, it has yet to make its replacement, self-defence, as commonplace.

There’s another problem.  We’re afraid that if we hurt them, they’ll come back (when they can walk again) and kill us.  Which is why women’s self-defence should include a small tranquilizer gun.

(‘Course they might still come back and kill us.  After all, to be decommissioned by a woman!  It would be a new kind of honor killing…)

Which means the best solution may be to just kill him first.

(And given the very real possibility that your rapist is HIV+, since he’s apparently not monogamous and/or in the habit of using a condom, it may not just be rape, but murder—in which case you’re justified in doing just that.)

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Dolly (what’s in a name – for cloning)

Wilmut’s team named the sheep cloned from a single adult cell “Dolly” because that cell had come from a mammary gland.  I’m tempted, on that basis alone, to cast my vote against human cloning.  I mean, if that kind of short-sightedness or immaturity is going to be running things, they’re bound to go horribly wrong.

Did they really not foresee that “Dolly” would become headline news?  Or did they not even recognize how juvenile they were being?  Mammaries = women = mammaries.  We are not seen as people, or perhaps colleagues, certainly never as bosses.  Really, need I go on?  This is all so old.  And yet, grown men, brilliant men, on the cutting edge of science, who become headline news, are apparently still forcing farts at the dinner table and snickering about it.

So, cloning?  I don’t think so.  Not until the other half of the species grows up.

(Then again, since cloning means we finally don’t need them at all, not even to maintain the species, let’s go for it.)  (Could it be they never thought of that either – that cloning makes males totally redundant?)

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Have you noticed the way the weather is being reported lately?

Have you noticed the way the weather is being reported lately?  Climate change, specifically global warming, as evidenced by the dramatic increase in severe storms and the decrease in polar ice…they’re making it entertaining.  Entertaining, for gawdsake.

Commentators refer to “extreme storms” — making them sound all exciting and daring, like “extreme sports”.

Another opens with “this week’s wildest weather” as if we’re on a fun safari.

And there’s a video called “Force of Nature – Uncut”.  Again, exciting entertainment.

“Will any records be broken?” the commentator asks, the phrasing suggesting that, like athletic competitions, breaking a record will be a good thing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Surrogacy – Why Not?

Sure, women should be allowed to be surrogates.  We all do work with our bodies, some of us also include our minds in the deal (some of us are allowed to include our minds in the deal), so why not?  As long as they get paid for service rendered.

Being a surrogate is sort of like being an athlete.  You have to be and stay physically healthy, for the duration: you have to eat and drink the right stuff, and not eat or drink the wrong stuff; you have to get the right amount of physical activity.  And so on.  It’s important.  Use during pregnancy of illegal drugs (such as crack cocaine and heroin) as well as legal drugs (such as alcohol and nicotine) can cause, in the newborn, excruciating pain, vomiting, inability to sleep, reluctance to feed, diarrhoea leading to shock and death, severe anaemia, growth retardation, mental retardation, central nervous system abnormalities, and malformations of the kidneys, intestines, head and spinal cord (Madam Justice Proudfoot, “Judgement Respecting Female Infant ‘D.J.”; Michelle Oberman, “Sex, Drugs, Pregnancy, and the Law: Rethinking the Problems of Pregnant Women who use Drugs”).  Refusal of fetal therapy techniques (such as surgery, blood infusions, and vitamin regimens) can result in respiratory distress, and various genetic disorders and defects such as spina bifida and hydrocephalus (Deborah Mathieu, Preventing Prenatal Harm: Should the State Intervene?)

To be an elite surrogate, Read the rest of this entry »

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The Right to Life – a given?

What if the right to life was a natural, inalienable human right to age 18, but after that it was an acquired, alienable right?  So you had to deserve it somehow, you had to deserve to be alive.  And you could lose it, by doing any of a number of things…

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