Friday, January 25, 2008

Baby Soft and Sexy

I'm a sucker for nostalgia. My first perfume was Love's Baby Soft and I kept it in my yellow flowered ballerina jewellery box. At that age I was riding my bike to the Red Rooster around the corner for $0.05 candies, certainly not spending my allowance money on the glossies. But as dug up by Chimp Media [via Copyranter & Broadsheet], the ads for the (I can still smell it!) perfume were extremely disturbing. Thirty years later, young girls continue to be sexxed up for capitalistic ventures. Psst... I'm thinking about Bratz dolls.

For Every Girl

Greasy Grapes of Wrath

Sadly I was unable to attend this rally yesterday at City Hall, Rally for Homeless Women: Were You Safe Last Night?, but am encouraged to know that there is a mobilization of women's voices raised at City Hall. Calgary is a not a great place to live. Calgary is expensive, cruel, and saturated with white men making a lot of money. I recently looked up the sale price of a house I am familiar with on the outskirts of the city; a small, 1,300 sf bungalow without any landscaping: the price tag is sitting at $483K. As a renter, myself, always with a concern of lease termination in the back of my mind, I a) don't get paid enough to own property in Calgary and b) am not foolish enough to buy a place that is worth maybe half the asking value. With the apocalypse pouring down on places like Cleavland's low-income/sub prime mortgage target communities, I am willing to sit tight with a lease worry rather than a mortgage terror.

Women who live on the streets, however, can't even find an affordable lease to fret over. Greed greed greed for the rich and we see our poor getting poorer and landlords raising rents and making excuses for it. Affordable housing is torn down for condos and replacement residents are not constructed. The homeless shelters fill up quickly and are a risky place for a woman without a home:

The rally was organized by Christine Walsh, a professor of social work who interviewed homeless women across the city. She found the women did not feel safe in co-ed shelters where they had a higher chance of being harassed or assaulted.
. . .
"Women are at risk for violence when they occupy the streets, particularly if they're in the streets in the daylight, and particularly in the evening hours, and for homeless women, that's their life," Walsh said.
Homeless women must unite and rage against the city and its policies and corporation-favouring budgets.

Last night my partner and I attended a forum on the legality of free speech. It seems that everyone wants to be able to say whatever hateful things they want against groups of minorities, especially, and be protected by free speech laws. One of the panelists, though, pointed out a crucial problem: Middle and Upper Class people want to be able to say what we want when we want about who we want. But we don't want lower class, namely, homeless street people, to be able to hold out a hand and say, "please help." Bylaws and city regulations are putting tape over the mouths of the poor, demanding they not speak. These people have nothing left, not even the basic human right to ask for help. It's sickening, degrading, and wrong.

What can we do? We can use our right to free speech for the purpose it was intended: to enact social change and raise human consciousness about injustices. We can also slow down our busy lives to soften up, take some time, spend a moment on the sidewalk to pay attention; listen to individual stories and experiences and advocate. As always, in the words of Isabel Allende, "How can we not speak about war, poverty, and inequality when people who suffer from these afflictions don't have a voice to speak?"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Below the [black] Belt

A fifteen year old girl fought off an attacker in Japan by kicking him in the crotch. The headline reads, "Karate girl fights off knife-wielding attacker in Saitama" and I must admit that I was expecting to read of some serious ass-kicking. However; this is a great reminder that there are simple techniques to use in any self-defense, if you have basic skills or a black belt!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rest Peacefully.

I first read on Friday morning that a body had been found outside a Southeast church and that there were unconfirmed reports that it was a body of a woman. Immediately I thought of Tara Landgraff and Wendy Hewko, two women murdered in Calgary last summer; I thought, “oh godde, another murdered woman.” Arcelie Laogagan’s face was so badly beaten the police will not confirm her identity until a DNA test is completed. Her family believes it is her and is of course devastated.

A few recent attacks I’m reminded of:

On November 4, 2007 a woman was viciously attacked and sexually assaulted in the beltline. Police have not made an arrest.

There was another incident in November when a man followed a woman pushing a stroller from a C-Train platform who fought him off her after being pushed to the ground.

Saturday, November 24, 2007 a woman was followed from a C-Train platform onto the U of C campus and pushed her to the ground in an isolated area. Her cries for help were heard by a security guard and a professor (42 year old man was caught and charged with assault causing bodily harm)

On Tuesday, January 15, a repeat offender robbed a tanning salon and then dragged the woman to a nearby treed area, assaulting her. The man was caught and has been charged.

This past Sunday a woman was grabbed by an unknown man while walking home; she fought him off and he again tried to grab her outside her home and she managed to escape.

Calgary Transit says it will evaluate its safety measures and security on the C-Train line. It’s maddening that it takes a murder to initiate this, and although I appreciate the concerned reaction, it is going to take more than an evaluation; more than additional cameras or guards for women to be protected and have a sense of security. The problem isn’t a lack of surveillance, the problem is that these men feel that they can intimidate, harass, threaten, and physically violate women.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Anonymous "Oilman"

An anonymous doner has given $1,200,091.92 million, matching the Calgary Herald's Christmas Fund for 2007, which money is going to be "spread evenly between 14 Calgary social agencies that have programs focused on poverty and domestic violence reduction."
We need more of these people in our City. I'm relieved that he is keeping his charity anonymous, the way it should be. My regards and appreciation to this man.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Religious Experience

I love sex-reference church billboards; especially this one.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Third Orientation

The Globe and Mail has published findings of a study conducted over a 10 year period of 79 women. It concludes that bisexuality can be considered normal. What a find! The best part is that many of the participants described themselves as neither lesbian, hererosexual or bisexual; but rather, "unlabelled." Truly! Why do we need to put a name to something, especially something like sexuality that in the end, is none of anyone's business.

Here's one conclusion in the article that I can appreciate:

"The distinction between lesbian and bisexual women is not a rigid one," she said. "Like with most people, a lot seems to depend on who you happen to meet."
I agree with this statement. Love and sex are about connections and sparks. I have girlfriends who have met incredible women with whom they have had invaluable relationships with, including sexually, and those same women have had intense emotional and sexual relationships with men as well. It's about that golden thread; the way a person makes us feel and the way we make them feel. I think this study brings up some interesting statistics and dialogue-starting points about people's desire for a cut and dry labelling system. It is revealing to read the comments posted after the article; you can just smell the homophobia and sexism throughout.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Canned for Laughter

A Korean women, Moon Ji-ae, has been fired from her job as News anchor at Korean MBC after a suppressed chuckle at the end of a newscast.
Granted that it may have been inappropriate to have a laugh after an explosion story, but it looks to me that it didn't so much stem from the story than maybe a former inside joke or a camera person farting. Who knows why she laughed, but she certainly shouldn't have been fired. I think about the nonchalance that our newscasters switch from devastating reports of death and mayhem to "and now back to you, Jeff... three puppies competed in a game of water slide basketball, har har har..." and our desensitized minds switch gears and moods just as quickly.
(link via boingboing)

Cement Ceilings

From today's Globe and Mail:

As much as women may hammer against the glass ceiling, the number of them in top executive positions has fallen in Canada over the past year, a study finds.
. . . .
"This drop is disheartening and it indicates that Canada's corporate structure is still inherently unfriendly toward promoting women," says Jay Rosenzweig, managing partner at Toronto-based Rosenzweig.
Who says there's no place for a movement working and fighting for equality of the sexes?(via Justice is a Woman with a Sword)

The Buzz from the Bees

I'm admittedly a little late with this but here is a fascinating article from the International Herald Tribune by writer Louise Story about the juicy history of Burt's Bees, Burt's love affair with Roxanne Quimby and his chicken coop; the acquisition by corporate giant Clorox (in November last year) and the future of this gem of a skin care product.

I recently tried Burt's Bees chap stick this summer and found the tingly goodness worth the +$5.00 I paid. There's one line in the article, though, that has me tingling in a different way, and it can be found on page 3.

Burt's Bees is not perfect, Replogle acknowledges. The company obtains all of its beeswax from hives in Ethiopia, so shipping the ingredient across the Atlantic adds to carbon emissions.
What I know about human exploitation of resources in Ethiopia (i.e. COFFEE) by large corporations isn't pretty. I'm going to do some digging and perhaps this little bear will come out of the internets with some honey on her hands.

We Stand on Guard for Thee

The Star today reports on a sex slave ring bust in Toronto. I found it very interesting to compare the tone of today's article with the tone of the Calgary Sun's article on a similar story in December. The Star's story opens, "The women are young and beautiful, mostly from Eastern European countries, police say. . . . They travel here based on Internet promises of modelling jobs and a better life." The Sun, however, opens its article, "Cops busted an alleged trick pad last night -- across the street from a school -- where suspected illegal immigrants may have been working as sex slaves. " The Star goes on, ""They are controlled. They're very vulnerable," Ervick told reporters. "They are kept isolated from each other."" Although the Sun reports that police believe the women to be victims, the referenced quotations present a different bias in rhetoric, "The first goal is to determine the "status" of the women found in the home -- whether they are landed immigrants, illegally in Canada and how they ended up allegedly selling their bodies in a Calgary home, Renke said. If women are kept as sex slaves they are not selling their bodies! The captors, the pimps, they are the ones selling the women's bodies and profiting from rape. In Calgary, the seven women found in the "alleged" bawdy house along with a 45 year old man, have been charged with being found in a common bawdy house [CBC].

I cannot find any news reports following up on the story in Calgary. I was sad that there wasn't a greater sense of compassion in the reports of these women. The article claimed ignorance on a lot of the facts that have not yet been revealed in the media and perhaps never will...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Alberta's Own

Unrepentant old Hippie has a lovely rant regarding the despised Ezra Levant at his 'meeting with the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Babies Misbehavin'

This study claims that moms who are stressed (because they have jobs outside of the home) give their children asthma. I can't help but question the babies' behaviour. Maybe the babies are mean and uncooperative, perhaps they criticize mom without really understanding all the issues. Perhaps these are the babies that don't clean up after themselves, babies that won't wipe their own bum, do their laundry, throw food all over the highchair and floor; demand attention attention attention. Maybe, just maybe, the asthma is self induced by causing mom so much stress! Maybe it's the babies' faults for being such little brats!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Morgentaler Decision Turns 20

Here's an enjoyable interview with Dr. Henry Morgentaler on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada.

Prochoice Calgarians are celebrating this 20th anniversary on Monday, January 28. If you can come out, raise a glass and toast to choice on Monday evening, email to request details!

Who Can Afford to Volunteer?

Carole McGowan asks some tough questions and raises a lot of interesting issues surrounding poverty and women's volunteer work in Canada.

Via Rabble.

Because We Were Snubbed

Snubbed by mainstream blog awards. Accused of being "in a snit". What's a feminist blogger to do when she's all dressed up with no place to go?

Announcing the First Annual Canadian F-word Blog Awards!

More than Addiction

As I've posted before, I didn't last long on Facebook. I'm a tiny minority among friends, family and colleagues who is not using the network site; I realized it was a time waster after wasting too many valuable lunch hours and evenings searching for people I knew in days gone by and gasping that some would post photos of their child being born. Tom Hodgkinson of The Guardian reveals some very interesting and perhaps shocking facts about the men behind Facebook. Hodgkinson introduces us to the only three faces on the board of directors of Facebook.

1st Board Member Mark Zuckerberg, the poster boy who initially conceived Facebook

2nd Board Member Peter Thiel
Some highlights:

But Thiel is more than just a clever and avaricious capitalist. He is a futurist philosopher and neocon activist. A philosophy graduate from Stanford, in 1998 he co-wrote a book called The Diversity Myth, which is a detailed attack on liberalism and the multiculturalist ideology that dominated Stanford. He claimed that the "multiculture" led to a lessening of individual freedoms. While a student at Stanford, Thiel founded a rightwing journal, still up and running, called The Stanford Review - motto: Fiat Lux ("Let there be light"). Thiel is a member of TheVanguard.Org, an internet-based neoconservative pressure group that was set up to attack, a liberal pressure group that works on the web.
. . .
Thiel's philosophical mentor is one René Girard of Stanford University, proponent of a theory of human behaviour called mimetic desire. Girard reckons that people are essentially sheep-like and will copy one another without much reflection. The theory would also seem to be proved correct in the case of Thiel's virtual worlds: the desired object is irrelevant; all you need to know is that human beings will tend to move in flocks. Hence financial bubbles. Hence the enormous popularity of Facebook. Girard is a regular at Thiel's intellectual soirees. What you don't hear about in Thiel's philosophy, by the way, are old-fashioned real-world concepts such as art, beauty, love, pleasure and truth.

3rd Board Member Jim Breyer
Some highlights:
He is a partner in the venture capital firm Accel Partners, who put $12.7m into Facebook in April 2005. On the board of such US giants as Wal-Mart and Marvel Entertainment, he is also a former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Now these are the people who are really making things happen in America, because they invest in the new young talent, the Zuckerbergs and the like. Facebook's most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock's senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What's In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA. After 9/11, the US intelligence community became so excited by the possibilities of new technology and the innovations being made in the private sector, that in 1999 they set up their own venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel, which "identifies and partners with companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help deliver these solutions to the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community (IC) to further their missions".

The US defence department and the CIA love technology because it makes spying easier. "We need to find new ways to deter new adversaries," defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2003. "We need to make the leap into the information age, which is the critical foundation of our transformation efforts." In-Q-Tel's first chairman was Gilman Louie, who served on the board of the NVCA with Breyer. Another key figure in the In-Q-Tel team is Anita K Jones, former director of defence research and engineering for the US department of defence, and - with Breyer - board member of BBN Technologies. When she left the US department of defence, Senator Chuck Robb paid her the following tribute: "She brought the technology and operational military communities together to design detailed plans to sustain US dominance on the battlefield into the next century."

If these men's philosophies, agendas and ties aren't enough to kick the habit, consider this:
"Share" is Facebookspeak for "advertise". Sign up to Facebook and you become a free walking, talking advert for Blockbuster or Coke, extolling the virtues of these brands to your friends. We are seeing the commodification of human relationships, the extraction of capitalistic value from friendships.

Too right. Consider life before Facebook. Consider its value. Consider quitting; saying no to these rich neocon elites and picking up the phone to connect with an old friend. Look up a postal code and delight someone you care about with snail mail. There is more pleasure in a hand-addressed envelope than a Facebook gimmick gift can ever hope to offer.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Weighing in on Popularity

This study, as outlined in Newsweek, claims that popular girls are less likely to gain weight than their unpopular counterparts (popularity based on subjective judgement). And they claim that gaining less weight is the favourable outcome; and weight gain is the health alarm. Key subject here is adolescent girls. Painted thick with anti-obesity claims, this study does nothing to open dialogue about eating disorders and diet fanaticism in adolescent girls. On the contrary, it's supposedly better to be skinny and popular than fat and unpopular.

Here's the big flaws: a) the writer acknowledges that the girls in the study did their own weight reporting as opposed to a doctor's weigh in. We all know that girls and women never lie about their weight and household scales are never adjusted to personal taste or misalligned; b) I quote, "Both groups, on average, fell within ranges considered normal." If this study's data was normal, then how can it make conclusions about obesity?! Girls' weight gain while they are growing is what is normal; and c) "The researchers put the girls into two groups: the 4,264 who said they were on rung 5 or above, and the 182 who said they were on rung 4 or below. The weight gain link was based on those two groups." The self-described popular group had a 2,300% data surplus advantage in favour of minimal weight gain! Additionally, what was the control group? The study did not take into account metabolism rates, the quality of food being consumed, the amount of exercise done, instances of bulemia, binge eating, water intake, etc. This is a poor, useless study indeed and I give it a big F for failure.

Dating Tips for the Righteous

... or self righteous.

I found this little gem via Pharyngula today filled with advice for dating Christians. That is, advice to dating Christians. Because upon reading these tips I don't think anyone in their right mind would want to date a Christian!

First of all, growing up all Baptist n' shit I've heard these arguments. But they're worth a laugh and a trip down memory lane! Check this out!

A kiss begins to sexually stimulate a man instantly.
Is this healthy for the man to get sexually aroused time after time without sexual release? When men become sexually aroused a large amount of blood flows to the genitals. If ejaculation does not occur; the build up of blood can become painful. That just can't be a good thing for anyone! Ouch! :O)

Always a maddening excuse to blame the woman for his non-explosion. How come Christian men are so horny and Christian women are just the pupotrators interfering with men's God walks?
I gotta hand it to the Christian Life Advisor, though, as this tip catches my attention:
Include another couple

And now back to earth, here's a study that claims "[t]he percentage of teens who report solely positive benefits from not having sex declines precipitously with age".

"Microsoft don't scare me. I got God with me."


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tales of Passion

"How can one not speak about war, poverty, and inequality when people who suffer from these afflictions don't have a voice to speak?" -Isabel Allende
Allende's words have been my inspiration for years. I signature my emails with this quote, I've got it in my office where I can see these words everyday. I am thrilled to hear, via Objectify This, that Ms. Allende is speaking out and we can listen in.

Event Notification

Better to Reign in Hell Than Serve in Heaven

Two days ago when I heard that an Iraqi soldier had killed a couple of American soldiers, I wondered, "What really happened?" The New York Times reports:

The soldier who shot the Americans was tied to the insurgency, said Brig. Gen. Mutaa Habib al-Khazraji, a commander in the Iraqi Army’s Second Division in Mosul. During the firefight, he “seized the opportunity” and fired on the American soldiers, killing two of them, the general said in a telephone interview on Saturday, adding that the Iraqi “was an infiltrator.”

Turns out, as I read today, that the Iraqi soldiers weren't exactly comfortable with the American soldiers' abusing Iraqi women; pulling hair and beating up pregnant women is no way to gain favour and demonstrate freedom. An excerpt from Ali Al-Fadhily's (IPS News)article:
Kaissar is a professional soldier who revolted against the Americans when they dragged a woman by her hair in a brutal way," Col. Juboory said. "He is a tribal man, and an Arab with honor who would not accept such behavior. He killed his captain and sergeant knowing that he would be executed."

Others gave IPS a similar account. "I was there when the American captain and his soldiers raided a neighborhood and started shouting at women to tell them where some men they wanted were," a resident of Mosul, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS on phone. "The women told them they did not know, and their men did not do anything wrong, and started crying in fear."

The witness said the U.S. captain began to shout at his soldiers and the women, and his men then started to grab the women and pull them by their hair.

"The soldier we knew later to be Kaissar shouted at the Americans, 'No, no,' but the captain shouted back at the Iraqi soldier," the witness told IPS. "Then the Iraqi soldier shouted, 'Let go of the women, you sons of bitches,' and started shooting at them." The soldier, he said, then ran off.

The Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni organization, issued a statement saying the Iraqi soldier had shot the U.S. soldiers after he saw them beat up a pregnant woman.

"His blood rose and he asked the occupying soldiers to stop beating the woman," they said in the statement. "Their answer through the translator was: 'We will do what we want.' So he opened fire on them."

War is rape. The fight is not noble, is not protecting or helping women. This story reminds me to keep listening to the voices from Iraq, Afghanistan. Read the propaganda and ask yourself always, "what is the other side of the story?" The Iraqi man who took a stand against the occupiers in defense of Iraqi women, in a moment of fury of the soldiers' abuse and mistreatment and disregard for humanity, this man now suffers torture at the hands of the men he raged against. I laugh and I sigh that the rhetoric continues to convince North Americans that democracy and an occupation will 'free' Middle Eastern Women. Listen to the Iraqi voices:
Col. Juboory said Kaissar who had at first accepted collaboration with the U.S. forces "found the truth too bitter to put up with." The colonel said: "I worked with the Americans because being an army officer is my job, and also because I was convinced they would help Iraqis. But 11 months was enough for me to realize that starving to death is more honorable than serving the occupiers.

I do not support these wars.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Lilith Attack at The Star Dot Com!

I am pleased and proud to announce my discovery today that Lilith Attack has been named, on Antonia Zerbisias' Broadsides page of, an "Unruly Canadian Wom[a]n"

Well we all know that well-behaved women rarely make history! May 2008 be a year of much mischief, dissidence, and unruliness! Speak the truth, and RIOT DON'T DIET!!

The Media Makes Pregnant Teens have Babies!

Check out this terrific review by Kathy Pollitt of the Nation, on Juno.

I couldn't get over my sense that, hard as the movie worked to be a story about particular individuals, not a sermon, it was basically saying that for a high school junior to go through pregnancy and childbirth to give a baby to an infertile couple is both noble and cool, of a piece with loving indie rock and scorning cheerleaders; it's fetal fingernails versus boysenberry condoms. To its credit, the film doesn't demonize teen sex; still, a teen who saw this movie would definitely feel like a moral failure for choosing abortion. Do we really want young girls to feel like they have to play babysanta?

You can read the rest of the review here!