Bare Breasts: Objections and Replies

[I wrote this piece back in the early 90s when Gwen Jacobs did her thing (yay, Gwen!), but apparently it all still needs to be said. A couple years ago, I was ‘spoken to’ by a neighbour for taking my shirt off on a hot summer day when I was out kayaking. Most amusingly, I was ‘spoken to’ again when I did the same thing just last year, post-bilateral-mastectomy. Which brings to mind Twisty’s hilarious “Cover ’em up if you have ’em and even if you don’t” comment.]

In response to the moral outrage about women going shirtless in public, I offer the following. Read the rest of this entry »

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Developing Authority and Being a Parent

I’m wondering whether it’s just me or…whether most women who never become mothers simply never develop an authoritative manner.  Men have it from the get go: they are automatically thought, by themselves as well as by others, to be authorities, and early on, they develop both the habit of telling others what to do and the expectation that they’ll be listened to.

Women don’t.  (Unless they’re deluded.)   At least, not until they become a parent.  Only then do they gain some authority.  Only then do they start telling someone what to do and expecting to be listened to. 

Sure, the authority they now have extends only to their kid, but it leaks out.  As it does with men.  When you talk with authority in your house, to your wife or kids, you don’t suddenly ‘turn it off’ when you leave the house.  It’s an acquired manner, a way of carrying yourself, a way of presenting yourself that becomes part of yourself. 

I’ve never acquired that manner.  I’m not in the habit of telling anyone what to do.  I don’t expect to be listened to.  So, despite my breadth and depth of knowledge and skill, I don’t have any authority.


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Making Certain Words Illegal

Hate speech.  Libel.  Slander.  Threat.  Intimidation.  Blasphemy.

‘Making words illegal violates our freedom of speech!’  Of course it does.  But that freedom, like many others, isn’t absolute.  Our freedoms are limited freedoms.  They are limited by several things (Joel Feinberg identifies six liberty-limiting principles), one of which is the harm principle.  That is, when our action harms another person or society in general, it is limited.  It is illegal.

‘But speech isn’t an action.  I didn’t do anything.  I just said – ’  Saying is doing.  Words are speech acts.  They are acts of speech.  And anyway, if the result is the same, does the method really matter?

‘Yeah but the result isn’t the same.  Words can’t hurt you.’  Well, not physically, no.  But they can cause psychological injury.[1]  And there’s the heart of the matter: should we make causing psychological injury illegal?

Actually, that’s not the heart of the matter.  Yes, we should, and we do.  The crime of torture includes acts which inflict severe mental pain or suffering (CCC 269.1[1]).

The heart of the matter is Read the rest of this entry »

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More reasons not to celebrate being Canadian…

We’re barely in the top quarter when it comes to the gender gap in wages (we’re fourth worst).

We’re barely in the top quarter when it comes to the gender gap in health (it’s safer to be pregnant in Estonia than in Canada).

Speaking of which, Read the rest of this entry »

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Canada Day – Are you sure you want to celebrate?

Before you get all patriotic and fly your little Canadian flags in celebration of Canada Day and, presumably, of being Canadian, think about it. Are you really proud to be: Read the rest of this entry »

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Jass Richards on PTSD (from The Blasphemy Tour)

(excerpted from Jass Richards’ The Blasphemy Tour)

“We hope you’re enjoying Texas?” the show’s host said, after he introduced Dylan and Rev as his first guests of the day.

“Well, we’re a little puzzled by all the American flags. Outside on people’s houses and their lawns—we’ve even been seeing them sticking up in the middle of the forest, at people’s cabins presumably. What an eyesore.”

She didn’t notice the intake of breath.

“Well,” the host replied, “many people fly the flag because they have a son or daughter serving overseas.”

Rev hadn’t thought about that. She did now. Then said, “And why would they want to advertise such stupidity?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Air Bands and Power Point

I still remember the feeling I had when I saw my first air band performance. It was a sick kind of feeling.

I hadn’t known what an air band was. The announcement came over the p.a. at my school-for-the-day, and I dutifully shepherded the class to the gym. Then I watched, incredulous, as group after group of high school students came on stage and pretended to play their favourite songs. I mumbled a query to the teacher standing next to me. Apparently this air band stuff was quite big. Students spent weeks practising. They really wanted to get it right. ‘It’ being the appearance, the pretence. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Futility of Teaching Business Ethics or Why Our World Will End

There are four reasons why teaching ethics to business students is an exercise in futility.

1. The profit motive trumps everything. As long as this is the case, there’s no point in teaching students the intricacies of determining right and wrong. Whether something is morally acceptable or not is simply irrelevant to them. It might come into play when two options yield the same profit, but how often does that happen? And even so, other concerns are likely to be tie-breakers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Political Science – A Costly Misnomer

Science is the pursuit of knowledge according to the scientific method: hypotheses must be testable, and results must be verifiable by replication.  Obviously, the more quantifiable something is, the more accurate and precise its measurement can be, and the more accurate and precise something is, the more testable and verifiable it is – it’s hard to test and then verify an uncertain or vague something-or-other.  So the definition of science really comes down to quantification.  Well, that and matter – only material things can be quantified.

Political science is the study of government organization and political systems.  These things are not quantifiable.  It would seem, then, that political science should have been named political art. 

So?  Well, one, Read the rest of this entry »

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Take Her Seriously

I used to think that the problem with rape was that women weren’t being explicit – they weren’t actually saying no, partly because men weren’t actually asking.  Perhaps because there’s (still?) something shameful about sex that makes people reluctant to come right out and talk about it.  Or maybe that would destroy the romance.  Whatever.

I still think Read the rest of this entry »

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