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    The first rule of focus groups or research groups is quite simply this.  If you say yes to one, then you shall forever be on the call list of every research company that has ever existed.  And they do call quite often.  Extrapolating from the frequency that I receive offers, people who are willing to participate in studies and opinion groups are few and far between.

The call I received was from a company doing research on for the federal government of Canada.  I thought to myself, woo-whee, the Feds want to know my opinion?  How could I say no to that (well that and the included honourarium)?   We were not told the details of what the discussion was going to be about beforehand.  It turned out to be a rather mundane discussion on the tax system in Canada and what our opinions and thoughts were on it, along with other issues such as debt, sources of debt, and how well off we defined ourselves vis a vis other generations.

Fascinating (ish) stuff.  What tweaked my interest was my fellow attendee’s lack of knowledge about Canadian fiscal and tax policy.  Like the fact that Canada’s corporate tax rate is miserly 15%, among the lowest, if not the lowest in the G7.  People seemed genuinely surprised when I suggested that we should be raising that tax rate significantly and that in the past the tax rate had been significantly higher (around 40% in the 60’s) .

Similar experiences when mentioning terms like neo-liberal (a la Nafta and the TPP) economic policy and trickle-down economics.  None of the other people in my research cohort used terminology and concepts that named the economic features we were talking about.  There was a good deal of, “oh I agree with what he said,” but none articulated the theoretical features or aspects of the features we were talking about.

The notion of ‘progressive taxation’ seemed to throw a few of my peers for a slight loop, even thought the Canadian tax system is nominally progressive in nature.   I boggled inwardly at that, but we all got on the same page eventually when it came to nailing down the concept.

I’m worried though, I am by stretch of the imagination an economist or policy-wonk, but the amount of time spent getting people up to speed on basic economic features and concepts made me take pause.  I get the feeling that many people just don’t have the time or the inclination to get the basic facts necessary to have an informed opinion on key features of our tax system and economics in general.  Taxes affect everyone in society and not having a base level of knowledge about them and how government policy can change the way taxes work, seems like a glaring oversight in one’s life education.

Ignorance aside, 7 out of the 8 of us present agreed with the legalization of marijuana in Canada so the Feds will at least have positive affirmation that making pot legal makes most of us happy (representative samply-speaking).

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    “Taylor Swift’s firm testimony in a civil trial this week involving a former radio host who allegedly groped her is sending a strong message to women who might experience similar forms of sexual harassment and assault: Don’t diminish the act.

“It provides a useful template for her fans, for younger girls who might experience these forms of harassment and be intimidated out of saying anything because their voice is consistently discredited,” said Karen Tongson, a professor who specializes in gender studies and pop culture at the University of Southern California.”

Constantly being discredited.  Welcome to the world of being female in society.  It’s the little details like the aforementioned that they don’t list in the Growing Up Female set of instructions.

Will Ms.Swift’s actions make a difference?  There is certainly a large mountain to climb in Canada on the issue of sexual harassment.

    “According to 2014 Statistics Canada data, 83 per cent of incidents involving sexual assault — including unwanted touching — were not reported to police. The most common reason provided by victims for not reporting the crime was that it was considered minor and not worth the bother to come forward.”

Yeah.  The violation of women’s boundaries in 2017, in Canada is still a thing.  I think perhaps our PM, before making any more “year” plus declaration statements – ala balanced cabinet – we should tackle the systematic lack of respect for the boundaries and bodies of women first.

     “The Canadian Women’s Foundation told CBC in a statement that Swift’s refusal to accept blame is “particularly important, as that often happens when seeking justice through the court system.”

Why is this important?  Because we still blame the victim for getting assaulted and harassed in our society and our institutions still reflect this patriarchal value.

Good on ya Ms.Swift for fighting the good fight and showing us what we’re up against in the battle for a female liberation in our society.

 

[Source:cbc.ca]

 

Bill C-16 is problematic for women.  Go read the entirety of Megan Murphy’s article on the Feminist Current, I’ve excerpted a key bit here though. :)

Bill C-16 passed at the Senate on Thursday. Under this new Canadian legislation, which follows similar laws in a number of Western countries, a person can determine their gender or sex via self-declaration at any time and for any reason. It’s considered a human rights violation to question it. No criteria, physical markers, or tests have been identified to determine trans status. As an inherently individualistic idea, gender identity isn’t tethered to any external reality and is therefore considered immune from qualification or broader critical analysis.

If an individual’s identity doesn’t impinge on anyone, it’s easy to accept it at face value. But when an individual transitions into a group of people who face different challenges, questions will naturally arise about whether opportunities reserved for those who are marginalized in their own right will be inevitably claimed by these new members, once again making it more difficult for the original members to get ahead. Already, we’ve seen a handful of examples of males who transitioned later in life showered with praise and handed awards reserved for women, who have spent their entire lives enduring patriarchy as females.

Remarkably, troubling philosophical questions remain unaddressed. If gender identities are determined on an individual basis with no parameters around what they mean, it follows that there can be as many genders as there are human beings. If each individual has a purely self-determined identity, then, by definition, these inherently unique identities can’t be shared with anyone else. No one person can experience another person’s thoughts or feelings to verify that they are thinking or feeling the same things. How can males, or anyone for that matter, know that they feel like a woman? Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept the tautology that a woman is a person who identifies as a woman, the logical conclusion is that “woman” can mean anything and therefore means nothing.

And yet women exist.

Despite a lack of clarification and broad consensus on this, women are vilified simply for asking questions. We’re expected to abandon all prior experiences and notions of ourselves, most especially those that relate to our female embodiment and the oppression that stems from it. Sex-based protections have been effectively dissolved. When it comes to female-only facilities, human rights law is clear: a male who claims the identity of “female” or “woman” can’t be turned away. If a woman has concerns or is in a vulnerable position, her options are to somehow get over it or leave. What this tells women and girls who are survivors of male violence is that females’ right to refuge and privacy away from males is negotiable and that they come last. This is an insidious form of grooming that tells women and girls that they are hysterical for recognizing the epidemic of discrimination and violence directed at them and that they must prioritize the feelings of others over their own sense of self-preservation.

Though frequently twisted, the argument here isn’t that trans people in particular pose a threat. The issue is that as long as gender identity rests on self-declaration, it is impossible — and illegal — for females to distinguish between males who simply wish to live as transgender women and other males. This is an unwarranted burden to place on women and girls, who shouldn’t be obligated to have or divulge a history of trauma in order to justify maintaining independent spaces (not that it makes a difference when they do anyway).

Laws based on personally subjective, indescribable feelings are bad news, not only Canadian women, but the rest of society as well.

 

Canadian bill C-16 passed.

“The bill updates the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression.” The legislation also makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression. It would also extend hate speech laws to include the two terms, and make it a hate crime to target someone for being transgender.

Critically, the bill also amends the sentencing principles section of the code so that a person’s gender identity or expression can be considered an aggravating circumstance by a judge during sentencing.”

As with much of queer politics, defining terms is pretty much up to who you happen to ask, or what day it is, or really how you feel about it at the time.  So, let’s grab some terms from some lazy searches on google.  These two categories are now included in the the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code.

Wikipedia – Gender identity – is one’s personal experience of one’s own gender.[1] Gender identity can correlate with assigned sex at birth, or can differ from it completely.

    “Merriam Webster Gender expression:  The physical and behavioral manifestations of one’s gender identity People vary greatly in the extent to which they hold and convey gendered thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Gender expression refers to the way people convey their gender through mannerisms, behaviors, or expressions. — Robert C. Eklund and Gershon Tenenbaum (editors), Encyclopedia of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2014 For most people, … gender expression occurs so naturally it’s unnoticeable. Except when gender expression doesn’t match traditional notions of the gender assigned at birth. — Will Dean, The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, California), 12 June 2015″

   Perhaps we should try one more source.   Another definition of gender identity this time from Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who introduced the legislation –

“Gender identity is a person’s internal or individual experience of their gender. It is a deeply felt experience of being a man, a woman, or being somewhere along the gender spectrum. Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. It is an external or outward presentation through aspects such as dress, hair, makeup, body language, or voice.”

Luckily I also found a feminist response as well – Meghan Murphy responds

     “But these statements show a deep misunderstanding of what gender is and how it works. Gender is a product of patriarchy. Ideas around masculinity and femininity exist to naturalize men’s domination and women’s subordination. In the past, women were said to be too irrational, emotional, sensitive, and weak to engage in politics and public life. Men were (and often still are) said to be inherently violent, which meant things like marital rape and domestic abuse were accepted as unavoidable facts of life. “Boys will be boys,” is the old saying that continues to be applied to excuse the predatory, violent, or otherwise sexist behaviour of males.

    The feminist movement began back in the late 1800s in protest of these ideas, and continues today on that basis. The idea that gender is something internal, innate, or chosen — expressed through superficial and stereotypical means like hairstyles, clothing, or body language — is deeply regressive.

    Beyond misguided language there is the fact that we are very quickly pushing through legislation that conflicts with already established rights and protections for women and girls.

    Women’s spaces — including homeless shelters, transition houses, washrooms, and change rooms — exist to offer women protection from men. It isn’t men who fear that women might enter their locker rooms and flash, harass, assault, abuse, photograph, or kill them… This reality is often left unaddressed in conversations around gender identity. This reality is sex-based, not identity-based. Men cannot identify their way out of the oppressor class so easily, neither can women simply choose to identify their way out of vulnerability to male violence.”

So here we be – enshrining more patriarchal norms into our laws – big surprise right?  This legislation potentially represents a large step backwards for women.

“As unpopular as this fact has become, a man or boy who wishes to identify as a woman or girl, perhaps taking on stereotypically feminine body language, hairstyles, and clothing, is still male. He still has male sex organs, which means girls and women will continue to see him as a threat and feel uncomfortable with his presence in, say, change rooms. Is it now the responsibility of women and girls to leave their own spaces if they feel unsafe? Are teenage girls obligated to overcome material reality lest they be accused of bigotry? Is the onus on women to suddenly forget everything they know and have experienced with regard to sexual violence, sexual harassment, and the male gaze simply because one individual wishes to have access to the female change room? Because one boy claims he “feels like a girl on the inside?” And what does that mean, anyway?”

So which is more important male gender feelings or female safety?  I would like to advocate here for gender neutral washrooms/changing area as the beginning of a compromise in this area.  We still live in a patriarchy and sex segregated facilities are still necessary for the protection and safety of females in our society.  The choice whether to co-mingle with men in washrooms or change rooms should be up to all those involved.

   “We live in a time when women and girls are killed every day, across the globe, by men. Things like rape, domestic abuse, and the murder of Indigenous women and girls in Canada are still not considered hate crimes. Yet we have managed to push through legislation that may very well equate “misgendering” to hate speech.

    Women are protected under the human rights code on the basis that we are, as a group, discriminated against on account of our biology. Employers still choose not to hire women based on the assumption that they will become pregnant. Women are still fighting to have access to women-only spaces (including washrooms and locker rooms) in male-dominated workplaces like fire departments, in order to escape sexual harassment and assault.”

I have serious misgivings about this legislation.  The concerns raised by radical feminists such as Meghan Murphy, have mostly been brushed aside, unsurprisingly as her concerns focus on the female experience in society and how this legislation is going to impact females (thanks again patriarchy).

Critical analysis and more debate is necessary on contentious topics such as the now passed bill C-16 – I hope more discussions can be had and that so we can ensure the safety and security of females in our society.

 

 

 

 

   The politics of gender identity hurt women.

And now sadly, I have to qualify what I mean when I write the word ‘woman’ because males, with subjective, indescribable feelings have decided that they are also women.  So, ‘women’ defined here and in reality refers to adult human females.

Obvious female erasure aside, let’s move on to the news item itself.  To summarize – two women have been forced to leave a Woman’s Shelter because a man who calls himself a woman resides there.

Up is not down, dry is not wet, and for goodness sake men are not women.  Understand that strong feelings cannot and do not change the biological facts and features of our species.

“Two women are raising concerns about the latest person to move into a Kelowna homeless shelter for women.

“He wants to become a woman, I mean that is his choice but when a man comes into a women’s shelter who still has a penis and genitals he has more rights than we do.” Tracey said.

Tracey is upset that she was made to share a room with a transgender individual, a man transitioning to become a woman.

“They told me, sorry if a person identifies themselves with female, then we have to go with that.” Tracey said.”

Listen to Tracy speaking the truth to power.  Men have more rights than women, even in a woman’s shelter, because what a male believes is more important than the safety of actual women.

If you wish to respect reality you can no more identify as a woman as you could identify as a member of different race, or as different physical age.  If you happen to have just a casual relationship with reality, it is most definitely your problem, and others should not have to respect your personal fantasy life.

Yet here we be, males being prioritized in a Woman’s Shelter.  Orwellian notions and alternative facts are the new truth – so say we all!

“Another client named Blaine was also staying at the shelter. She recently fled from an abusive relationship and says she’s uncomfortable with a transgender person staying at women’s only facility.

“Some women have had bad experiences with men so they are fleeing men and now we have a man living there,” Blaine said.”

The root problem male violence, never seems to get any air time.  We, as a society continue to dance around the very real problems of male socialization and male violence and prefer to, as always, give short shrift to women and the life defining problems they face while living in a patriarchal society.

“The shelter is run by the NOW Canada Society. While the organization declined an interview on the matter, it did issue the following statement to Global News.

“NOW Canada cannot speak to specific cases. It is against the law to discriminate against transgender individuals. NOW Canada and other shelters in Kelowna welcome people without regard to age, race, religion and gender identity.”

Are you feeling the equality?  Basking in the wonderful egalitarian outcomes where unsurprisingly, the questionably superfluous needs of males, are prioritized over the physical safety of women?

I’m not.  I’m seeing patriarchy and misogyny in action.  I’m seeing men’s rights activism in action, I’m seeing the damage done to women because we as a society have uncritically accepted the nebulous notion that ‘gender identity’ is somehow more real that physical, biological fact.

“On Thursday morning, both Blaine and Tracey were asked to leave the shelter for good after speaking to the media and breaking the confidentiality agreement designed to protect the safety of all the clients. But now they say their safety has been compromised after being tossed out on the street.

“Hopefully we will stay safe,” Blaine said.”

Yes.  Hopefully indeed, while the male, in a female only space remains safe and sound.  The important class of people is protected, sorry ladies, you are just not welcome in a Woman’s Shelter anymore.

[Source:Global News]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sunnyways    It would be nice if our political class would make the effort to look like they give a damn about breaking their promises to the electorate.  Assigning inexperienced junior ministers to such an important issue, combined with a milquetoast online survey  is setting up the entire process for failure.  And of course, surprise of surprises, the process did not work.

Similarly – here take this ironing board, 3 pennies and a stick of gum – now go make the speedboat of your dreams…   If you aren’t MacGuyver, and clearly the political hacks assigned to this half-dug latrine were not, unspectacular results happen.

“In the lead-up to the 2015 election, Trudeau pledged that a Liberal government would ensure a new electoral system was in place for the next federal vote.

The Liberals regularly repeated that promise through their first 15 months in office, but on Wednesday the government announced electoral reform was no longer a priority.”

See?  The gift of unspecularity is graced on the Canadian electorate.

“In the House, Trudeau said reform might produce “an augmentation of extremist voices in the House,” a potential result that is sometimes associated with proportional representation.

The Liberal cabinet is said to have been overwhelmingly opposed to proportional representation, which aims to allot seats in the legislature in proportion to the national popular vote. Ministers, the source says, believed Canada was better served with broader “big tent” parties.

The source added the ministers were concerned that proportional representation could open the door to smaller regional or fringe parties in the House of Commons, including the alt-right, a loosely defined political movement that includes white nationalists and white supremacists.

The spectre of such a party holding the balance of power in Parliament is said to have been raised.”

This excuse is the offspring of what happens when two lame ducks come together in unctuous union.   The alt-right holding the balance of power in Canada?  It would have been more convincing if you has said that if we had PR the ghost of Brian Mulroney (yes, he’s still alive, but ethereal BM is much more scary) would appear in Canadian’s bedroom closets and read his memoirs to them.  Now that is some chilling shit right there.  *shiver*.

Give us a frack’n break Liberals.  :/

“Beyond the government’s lament that no “consensus” on the issue of electoral reform had been achieved, the prime minister’s comments in the House suggested a concern about the risk of moving forward.

“It would be irresponsible for us to do something that harms Canada’s stability,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

“The fact of the matter is that I am not going to do something that is wrong for Canadians just to tick off a box on an electoral platform,” he later added. “That is not the kind of prime minister I will be.”

During question period on Friday, NDP democratic reform critic Nathan Cullen responded to Liberal concerns about fringe or alt-right parties. 

“In their desperate attempt to justify their betrayal on electoral reform, Liberals are reaching for any excuse, however ridiculous or absurd,” Cullen said.”

I see you have no problem in harming the political future of the Liberal Party in Canada.  JT, you just shat the bed of credibilty with your base, the swing voters, and the ABC crowd.  Those poor bright clear eyed liberal youth just experienced why you shouldn’t trust your political leaders.

Maybe now all you young pups can just back the fuck down a bit and take this bitter pill to heart and start to understand the older generation and their cynicism when it comes to politics.

Nah, probably not, Mr.Sunny-Ways won’t stop the reefer train so he’ll still get your vote.  I hear the Ganja dulls the senses – makes you less likely to hear the tortured screams of our Democracy that just got drug out behind the woodshed for a good beating.

“Donald Trump got elected on first-past-the-post with no problem. A fair voting system is the actual antidote to such campaigns like his…. Proportional representation elects more women, more diverse parliaments and forces parties to work together and bring a country like Canada together.”

Cullen alleged that the Liberals abandoned electoral reform “not because it was a threat to Canadian unity, but because it was a threat to the Liberal party.”

Always good to keep one’s political priorities straight.  :/

 

[Source: CBC]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book-banning campaign by Gays Against Gentrification (GAG) is demanding the Vancouver Woman’s Library (VWL) remove and ban over twenty feminist books from their collection. These works — written by renowned women authors who have a long history of engaging in critical analysis against the oppression of women as class — focus on female exploitation, male supremacy, violence against women, reproductive freedom, lesbian identity and women’s health. As a matter of principle and in defense of freedom of speech and thought, no library should ever ban any books under any circumstance – especially ones written by and for women at the VWL. As authoritarianism takes deeper root throughout the world, it is more important than ever that any attempt to silence women in their struggle for liberation is resisted by all, at every moment. We urge VWL to keep these books on their shelves.

Source: Petition: Protect Feminist Books at Vancouver Women’s Library

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