Tag Archives: misogyny

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L’ecole Polytechnique: 25 Years After

25 years. Wow.

I’d just turned 16. I grew up as the last generation to be bombarded with cigarette advertising everywhere, when Virginia Slims still sold us the idea that women’s liberation was Mission: Accomplished. We’d come a long way, baby.

But then December 6th came. An angry man had a murdering rampage, killing 14 sharp, ambitious, promising young women, all engineers at L’ecole Polytechnique.

It blew my mind. I was young, death didn’t have the same impact as it does now because I was still innocent and hadn’t encountered much loss. And I didn’t really get why women trying to be engineers was such a radical concept to a backwards murderer like Lepine.

What I did understand was that these women were killed because they wanted to play at the big boy’s table. I understood this was a crime motivated out of resentment, pettiness, and jealousy.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve understood that petty misogyny that drives hateful men like Lepine.

I’ve gone from not wanting to be identified as a feminist when I was young to now being of the “goddamned right I’m a feminist, and why the hell aren’t you?” persuasion.

Something Must Have Caused This

Back then, I thought this terrible rampage was a backlash from women’s lib. The old cause/effect argument. “Women are changing things, men are reacting to change.” Simple.

It seemed then there were only two ways things would go. One, awareness would increase that violence against women wasn’t some Hollywood plot point, but rather a real social ill needing remedying. Or two, we were just getting started and an era of blowback was yet to come.

I didn’t take option two that seriously. We couldn’t be just starting an era of blowback… could we?

Maybe we could. 25 years later, we’re still seeing crimes against women happening because men feel entitled to attention from women, or they feel entitled to career advancement over women, or all kinds of other situations prefaced by the phrase “men feel entitled.”

Marc Lepine killed 14 women because he felt he was entitled to attend an engineering school, and that women had no right to occupy his space in the program. He didn’t make the cut, and instead of taking it to mean he had to work harder, he chose to believe women were accepted as a quota, that they hadn’t earned their space.

He felt entitled. Angry. Bitter. Vengeful.

And He Wasn’t Alone Then — Or Now

I look on the internet today and I see a lot of angry, bitter, vengeful entitlement making the rounds. Usually middle-aged white guys who are bitter they’re not more important at their jobs, or wealthier. They see women being smart or successful as further threatening their status quo, and they hurl insults about how ugly the women are (as if women are only trophies), cut them down professionally, and lob rape threats.

God help us if these anonymous, spiteful men ever screw up the resolve to grab a gun and let their bullets do the talking.

Misogynists are everywhere. You hear them defending those accused of serial rape — like Cosby and Ghomeshi. They spew ridiculous defenses, usually about how maligned men are, and the accusations by “spiteful” women are a conspiracy to destroy lives, et cetera.

There are GamerGaters verbally attacking female journalists because they don’t like their opinion, threatening them with rape, and worse.

There’s the infamous, ongoing brogrammer culture in Silicon Valley, celebrity serial misogynists who never get reined in. We even had a mass killer in California who blamed women for not sleeping with him.

A Flickering Light in the Tunnel

Despite all these recent reminders of just how big this struggle is, there are signs, I think, of women saying “enough is enough.” They’re exposing misogyny online in Italy and France. Just this week, a pair of Indian women went viral for beating up men harassing them on a bus. Women coming forward against beloved celebrities like Ghomeshi and Cosby are actually being believed.

There are signs.

But still I sit here today, aware that a quarter of a century has passed and we have so far to go.

In 2006, the first time I blogged about this day, I wrote:

“I think there’s good to be found in remembering what was lost that day, especially in proximity to Christmas, a time of joy and rebirth. I try to remember that in the smoke of that gunfire was borne a new kind of feminism. I like to think some part of me is a product of that day.

It’s the only way any of it can ever make sense.”

And five years ago, I wrote this remembrance of L’ecole Polytechnique, about how far we still had to go with the feminist struggle.

And here we are, 25 years on, still fighting an uphill battle as a new generation vacillates between accepting gender equality and railing against it.

Let’s Hear it For the Boys

But “feminism” is still a dirty word. There are those who still deludedly think it’s a female-supremacy movement. (No, but equal pay would be nice.)

These days, the only time feminism gets good press is when a man comes out and speaks up about why feminism is important, like Terry Crews did recently, which is going viral as I write.

And yet, I saw someone snarking “Oh, [Crews is] just saying what all these smart women said before him.”

But isn’t that what we fought for? Isn’t it in the benefit of all women that guys start identifying with why feminism is important? Isn’t it a bold new day when guys like Crews are standing up to say “If you’re silent, you’re a part of the problem”?

It’s helpful to the cause when guys like Crews explain to other men that it’s not about female supremacy, but rather just leveling the playing field. If they understand that, they might be able to accept that change is needed.

Mediocrity & Misogyny

Marc Lepine didn’t get that change was a long time coming. Instead of understanding that women should be in the engineering program, he felt they were stealing his opportunity. But he just wasn’t good enough to compete in a crowded arena.

Mediocrity, perhaps, is the greatest enemy of gender advancement. Men like Lepine don’t make the cut and then, instead of thinking “Well, hey, I’ll work harder and get in next time,” they blame the bitch who stole their spot.

It’s sadly ironic, but the only way feminism wins is when more men identify themselves as supporters of the feminist cause, when more men like Crews keep saying that silence means you endorse the status quo.

When I was a kid, I thought women would be truly equal by the time I was 30. Now I’m 41 and hope an era of change is upon us and maybe I’ll see a different world for women by the time I’m 60.

Maybe.

q-with-jian-ghomeshi

CBC’s cult of denial: Heads should roll for ignoring Ghomeshi improprieties

I’ve struck again with another new piece. This time I’ve got stronger opinions about the CBC, thanks to emerging details.

_______________________________________

I can’t quite identify what’s bubbling inside me. What is this feeling? Betrayal? Anger? Disappointment? All of the above?

Yesterday, I clenched my jaw and fumed as I listened to former Q chase producer Roberto Veri tell CanadaLand’s Jesse Brown about the time he watched Jian Ghomeshi dry-hump a Q staffer. He told Brown, “I FB messengered her to tell her that I was sorry that I didn’t do anything, that I saw it first of all because I turned my head away when he went up behind her. She was leaning over her desk between the corridor of the executive producer’s office and her desk. So she was leaned over contrary to where she sat. And she’s bending over working on some papers. And he came up behind her, grabbed her by the waist and humped her four or five times. He drove his pelvis into her buttocks and a big smile on his face. So I looked over at that and just sort of put my head down again. I didn’t know what the nature of the relationship was or if she was okay.”

Judging by the news flow, it’s safe to say we’re moving past the “if Ghomeshi did it” phase, because the conjecture amassing is staggering. Are all these people out there with an ax to grind? How could they all be lying? It seems like the new questions need to be who at the CBC knew, and for how long?

To Continue Reading, Please Visit The Vancouver Observer

The Museum of Penis

This morning Urban Gypsy, aka Tess, posted this ever-so-brief diatribe against The Museum of Sex and its fucking moronic public relations campaign featuring the ads found at this link. Thanks, Tess!

245_sexmuseum2Where to start? Well, I guess it’s official, I’m unlikely to ever, ever be interested in the Museum of Sex if it’s going to be this misogynistic before I even put foot in the door. I mean, if there was a woman anywhere on this creative team, I’ll eat my bra. And it has an underwire!

But let’s go to the big issues first, shall we?

Bad sex is better than good sex with yourself? Is it, really?

Last bad sex I had, in August, outraged me, because it was casual, something I don’t typically do, and over in an instant. My thinking was, “If I’m going to risk STDs and whatever else you’re risking by sleeping with a casual partner, then a) it better be GOOD fucking, and b) it better last a long time. I mean, I better be SPENT after taking that chance.”

It’s the old adage, anything worth doing is worth doing well. I think that adage needs an asterisk from here on out, and a perma-footnote that reads especially sex. Continue reading

Putting My Foot Down On You, Dr. Scholl

I’m interviewing at an ad agency or two tomorrow. No, I won’t be doing any of the ad copy work or anything, more of a save-the-sanity support office worker, since I excel at that. But advertising is something I’ve always been very, very interested in.

Remember the movie Crazy People, from years back? Daryll Hannah and Dudley Moore? “Jaguar: For men who like handjobs from beautiful women.” Or, “Volvo: They’re boxy, but they’re safe.”

It was a comedy about truth in advertising that emerges when an ad-copy writer has a breakdown and is sent to an insane asylum. He decides to stop lying to the public and tells the truth. He enlists the help of his fellow nuthausers and they reinvent advertising. (My favourite was the Sony one, where the shortness of Japanese assembly-line folks meant better quality control as they were hovered closer to the microchip boards than the tall, gangly American counterparts who were so tall they couldn’t see the fine melds and such. Heh.)

Every year, I go and I see the film of The World’s Best Commercials for that year. I love good advertising.

But I fucking hate bad ads.

Case in point: Dr. Scholl’s for Her.

There’s this new open-toe gel shoe pad made for stilettos and the like, by Dr. Scholl’s. For some fucking reason, there’s this chick in a skin-tight micro tube dress, wearing strapless stilettos (that magically stay on) as her legs dangle off one side of a bareback horse, and she lies back over the hump of this horse, prostrated.

Because I do that in my stilettos every fucking day. And other things I do in my stiletto, apparently, include walking my dog on a reinforcing dike in the ocean, playing tennis, and more.

Who the fuck is this ad for? Who’s the guy smoking crack who seems to think THIS is what’s gonna sell these shoe pads to a woman?

How about having a real situation? Oh, I don’t know… maybe an intelligent woman with spring in her step as she delivers a brilliant closing statement in a law court case? Maybe you have a group of men, all sweating and nervous, desperately awaiting a job interview in a crowded, awkward office, as this sexy chick who holds all their fates in her hands strides towards them, with a I-Own-Your-Ass, And-You-Know-You-Want-Mine look on her face?

I’m surprised they didn’t just get to the point and have some chick in clear pumps spinning her way down a pole, since apparently we’re all just whores who use our bodies for advancement in life.

How about we move the fuck away from more of this objectifying, lame-ass look at chicks today, and into the realm where women really are becoming powerbrokers? Remember, sexy and smart don’t have to be oil and water.

They’re only oil and water because the media doesn’t want us to forget that it’s our asses that count, not the grey matter in our heads.

I, for one, will never, ever buy another Dr. Scholl’s product. This ad pisses me off THAT much. I’m sick and tired of seeing women whose bodies you can bounce quarters of, with brains the size of the quarter, as being the ideal that I’m supposed to somehow strive for.

My ass is copious. As is my intellect. How about selling to me, you assholes?

(If you’re looking for an update on my employment woes, I’ve been keeping that shit over on the other blog. It’s been one hell of a week for me, emotionally, and keeping it together’s one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever faced. I’m scared as hell, but I’m proud as hell of how I’ve been dealing. I’ll be glad when it’s over. I hope that’s soon. I’ve earned the reprieve. If I know anything, I know that.)

Hey, Where’s OUR Smut?

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and instead of being on my ass at home or out in the world, I’m at the office. Not “the” office, really, since I’m just helping stop the Christmas bleeding for the goodly folk who owned my ass for five years, but still, here I am.

Last night was the annual Christmas party for their staff, which entails copious alcohol and fabulous food. Last night? Oysters, lobster. Precisely what to give an undersexed sex writer: An aphrodisiac. I so thank you for the added frustrations.

Add to that, I spent the night with a gay man. My best friend, GayBoy, and I crashed at his loverman’s pad after too much drinking.

I laid there on the Ikea couch, staring at the citylight pouring through the horizontal blinds, the lines of light playing on the cieling, and thought about earlier in the night…

My recent endeavours writing about smut has become a popular conversational topic among people I’m catching up with, and last night was no different. Sex became the evening’s topic, and naturally, when I was out on the sidewalk with some of the boys, talking, they proceeded to let me know about the men’s washroom in the oyster bar.

“The Centipede” became the most-talked-about piece of art — a black & white abstract close-up of a woman’s vagina. It turns out there were more than a half-dozen or so close-ups of vaginas in all their assorted beauty (eye/beholder) adorning the men’s washroom’s walls.

And in the ladies’ room? Pictures of squid. Oysters. Other seafood.

So, this begs the question: Where is our equality, huh?

Not that I’m saying I really needed any additional sexual frustration last night, but I’m a little baffled how a supposedly upscale place in one of the posher neighbourhoods in downtown Vancouver gets away with seafood in one washroom, and nicely done porn in the other?

It’s an interesting statement about men, particularly the autographed, framed photo of a porn star / stripper named Portia, inscribed, presumably, to the owner of the establishment. It read, “Shaz — I’m sorry to hear about your upcoming wedding. I was so looking forwards to riding your hard cock.”

Naturally, the boys insisted they play guard and keep the coast clear long enough for me to go and soak in the ambiance of the boys’ room. It was great for a laugh, and goes to show how divided the sexes are still. To each their own.

The guys I was with, one gay, one whipped, and one probably bi- (any guy who can belt out an Ethel Merman impression about a credit card has no goddamned right claiming to be heterosexual), all claimed they found the “art” a little disconcerting.

Either way, I could care less. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. Yeah, maybe it objectifies women, but you show me one fucking thing that doesn’t, honey, and you got better eyes than me. Fodder for dialogue, that’s all.

Now, I see nothing really wrong here, but what do you all think about it? Does it make an interesting statement about the sexes today?