16 August 2010

Protection of Nova Scotia's Agricultural Land Petition

Sign this petition to keep developers from taking all our good arrable land so we can grow local food!

Protection of Nova Scotia's Agricultural Land Petition

02 July 2010

06 June 2010

It's for my self-esteem

I sometimes have arguments disagreements with friends over feminism. Some of them don't think it's necessary anymore. We've achieved equality, so what's the point?

It's hard to argue with a female auto mechanic. Even from the standpoint of 50 or 60 years, that's a huge stride right there. She never reported any kind of harassment, nor did she really experience any nay-sayers in her training. I'm sure she fully recognizes that feminism is what allowed her to get her education and job with relative ease, but it seems like her appreciation stops there. She doesn't understand why I think that activism based on feminism is still necessary; I don't understand why she doesn't. We usually agree to disagree.

But today I was scrolling through some of the blogs I aggregate and I noticed the large number have recent posts about body image, beauty ideals, and the like.

Globally, sexism and oppression rooted in gender is a huge problem still. I work on this actively through my human rights efforts with Amnesty International, and by calling it where I see it. But where I think it makes a tangible difference to me on a personal level is being able to look at myself in the mirror and not hate myself.

If I were to believe current portrayals of beauty, I have virtually nothing to offer from an aesthetic standpoint. I have large thighs and a bit of a gut. My nose has a pronounced bump, the skin under my chin is a bit loose, and one eye is bigger than the other. My butt sags and I have cellulite anywhere you care to go looking for it.

But I don't hate myself. And it's because I take to heart the messages about everyone being different. Usually. Often when I see skinny models in magazines or actresses on TV, I see how skinny and unhealthy they look. I can only imagine what some of them had to go through to get where they are, and it makes me sad.

And I believe that feminism can change that. Not only do I see the change when I look at the students I teach and how they react to images in popular media, but I also look at my group of friends and see how vastly diverse and inspiring their beauty is. They aren't boxed in. They might have their moments of insecurity, but they still have the confidence to be themselves through it all.

Feminism can do that. It can tear down hurtful ideals, and open up new ways of thinking, as can any discussion of differing viewpoints.

But for me, feminism give me something rooted in history on which to base my feelings. The triumphs (birth control, women in the workforce, equitable divorce and property laws) are reasons to have pride. I, in turn, can have pride in my accomplishments; in who I am; in how I live.

Feminism allows me to be happy with myself. It's the kind of belief I wish more people could feel, because it makes me happier, with no real effort. Just knowing is enough. It's my choice to fight for it and be vocal about it, but anyone can enjoy it. Women can enjoy being who they are, loving who they want, and working at what makes them happy. How wouldn't that make you feel better?

Why does the negative work?

This is much more helpful.

30 May 2010

19 April 2010

Misleading the misled

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing*. While out and about this afternoon, I heard a news piece on CBC Radio One that caught my attention. I couldn't find the piece on the CBC website, but ABC News had the quote I was looking for from Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano:

We cannot put a glass dome over our country. We cannot guarantee there will not be another attack. No one can. But we are a strong and resilient country. And we can resolve that even a successful attack will not defeat our way of life.

Why do politicians in the US insist on making it sound like the only threat the US faces is from within? Is this how they get away with ignoring critical social justice issues domestically?

A glass dome over the US would not have prevented the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It was bombed by a US citizen, born and bred there (we share a birthday...), and his ideas did not originate with any particular religious ideology, Muslim or otherwise. He was, however, an angry man who never seemed remorseful for his actions. He was a controversial figure from the time of his arrest until his execution, three months to the day before the incidents of 11 September 2001.

In fact, before that fateful day when the USA turned its sights on the Middle East with swift and brutal intensity, most of the worst violence in the country was home-grown: the standoff of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas (which also shares today's anniversary); the shootings at Columbine High School (anniversary tomorrow); and on and on.

The US isn't alone in its violence and social problems. They aren't even alone in changing the context of past events. Personally, I'm more worried about how Canada fixes itself than how it might deal with other countries; and I say this as an active and dedicated member of Amnesty International.

Quite frankly, I believe that the US would have more success with reducing violence and creating domestic security if they focused more on how to take care of themselves while using diplomacy and foreign aid to stabilize the international community. Probably easier said than done, but it still seems like less work than the current strategy.

18 April 2010

What do you know?

Like a lot of other bloggers, I'm a fan of Jay Smooth, and will re-post almost anything he does:

Like a lot of bloggers, I also agree with what he says. He's not necessarily the smartest man on the planet, but he certainly knows what he's talking about. He has this ability to tell the truth while being respectful, and blunt, and he has a great, almost lyrical, approach to language.

What I like about this particular video is that he's right. People who know nothing about politics would better serve themselves if they didn't pretend that their disdain was in any way related to understanding how the system works.

I love politics. I follow it to the capacity that my brain can handle. I'm active in the process, and I spend a significant amount of time thinking about what I believe and why. When I talk about politics with other people (and I tend to choose carefully who I talk to), I clearly speak within my realm of experience, and sometimes I just don't know the answer. I certainly have lots of opinions, but they're based on engagement with the system.

When people open their mouths and express a sense of discontent or cynicism with politics, without having any idea what individuals do within a political system, then they're contributing to making the system worse, because not only are they not engaging in changing it, but they're spending time passing off ignorance as knowledge to people who haven't had the opportunity to learn for or decide for themselves. And the cycle starts again.

11 April 2010

Writer's Block

All that not writing I've done has rendered me a little useless as far as writing goes. I'm having a hard time finding inspiration. When I think I have an idea, it fizzles. It's really frustrating. Moreover, it's really putting a cramp in my "blogging more often" plan.

05 April 2010

Twitter killed my blog

I still love blogging. I think about it frequently. It kept me awake for an extra 40 minutes in bed last night, thinking about how I could incorporate more blogging into my schedule. Honestly, if they would let me access this platform from my school, I'd be all over it with much more frequency. Unfortunately, I am relegated to my downtime (not-at-work time) which, in actuality, is my semi-conscious time. There's a reason why my blogging increases exponentially in the summer. At the end of a school day, I'm usually done thinking. It's how I keep my sanity (and why so many of my jokes end up being of the "that's what she said" variety).

Twitter, on the other hand, has become simple. It's so easy to post a 140-character thought... without thinking. But I'm kind of sad at how it really deteriorates the quality of what I want to say. I also, I find myself bouncing back and forth between completely irrelevant updates (à la Facebook), and repeating other people's information. But I can't seem to break myself of the overly-simple habit of pulling out my BlackBerry between classes and throwing up something quick and "witty".

So, I'm going to spend some time rethinking how I construct my thoughts and how I can resurrect this with some regularity. And how I can integrate the two media better.

Suggestions welcome.

21 March 2010

Rape prevention

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don't put drugs in people's drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON'T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don't pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don't communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don't forget: you can't have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone "on accident" you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

By Ariel @ feministing.com

06 February 2010

New Semester

I have lots of things I'd like to blog about, but between finishing the first semester, and starting the new one, my spare time is a little scarce.

I wish someone would pay me to blog....