My Girlfriend. (#yesALLwomen)

My girlfriend, is really worked up about this #yesALLwomen thing.  She’s been writing about it.  She’s been talking about it to me and anyone who will listen.  She’s been bringing up painful memories.  She cries.

It makes me uncomfortable when she cries.  It makes me upset when she tells me about the times she’s been sexually assaulted.  It makes me scared and angry that she’s scared that if she keeps talking about this, men will get angry.  It makes me so sad, that I can hear it in her voice that she’s worried that I will get sick of her talking about this and I will leave her.

But I won’t leave her.  And I won’t tell her to shut up.  I won’t tell her “most men are good”, because that would invalidate her experiences, experiences I can’t imagine dealing with.  She’s weathered several sexual assaults, had dozens of close calls.  Endures harassment every day.  She’s in the trenches while I’m in the theatre watching a war reenactment.  She has PTSD from the horrific shit that has happened to her.  She has to mentally prepare herself to be touched or she flinches away.

She knows that by speaking out about this that more and more “good men” are going to get angry with her, and some of those men may try to shut her up.  Violently.  But she also knows that if she shuts up, she’s still not safe.  So she keeps talking.  She’s brave.

She’s amazing.  She’s brilliant, and compassionate, and self-sacrificing and beautiful.  She’s geeky in all the best ways, she wears a Tardis dress that I bought for her like it’s high fashion from the streets of Paris.  She writes so much better than I do.  She’s a rising star; people say they could see her writing laws in DC some day.

And when she curls up in my arms she tells me she feels safe.  She is.

I may not know much, I may not have gotten many things right in my life, I know that in my arms she’ll always be safe.  No matter what she does,  no matter how bad I feel, no matter how frustrated, or annoyed, or tired, or poor I am, she’ll always be safe in my arms.  That doesn’t feel like a big deal to me, but apparently it’s a big deal to her.

I worry, that not enough women in the world feel safe in the arms of their boyfriends, husbands, or lovers.  I worry that men don’t like to hear that and will tell the woman saying it to shut up.

And worst of all, I worry that they will.

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How I Became a Male Feminist

ImageI’ve claimed the title “feminist” for almost 2 years now, but it’s a topic I don’t speak or write about enough. I was not always a feminist, but was the result of many revelations I’ve had and decisions I’ve made.  Today, on International Women’s Day, I think it’s appropriate to try and share some of those steps with you.

The first of those steps was several years ago with a song by a Canadian folk-singer named Sarah McLachlan.  It had originally been written as a rape fantasy to her by a deranged fan.  When she published the song on one of her albums, he tried to sue her.  The song is called Possession, it’s both beautiful and haunting and it’s one of my favourite pieces of music.

It was no secret to me that Mrs. McLachlan was a feminist even back in the late 90s.  That younger me didn’t have much respect for feminists.  I believed the movement to be composed entirely of lesbians and the sexually repressed.  What did women have to complain about?  They could vote, they could go to work as I could, and had all the same freedoms as me.

When I heard the story behind Possession, I began to understand.  This woman, this Feminist did actually have something to complain about, but she wasn’t complaining.  She didn’t hide and play the victim, she turned that horrible letter and made a beautiful song.  I admired that.

Other revelations came to me.  The phrase “culture of rape” started to crop up here and there.  I distinctly remember in the movie Ted when Mark Wahlberg’s character, standing on a street satirically says to his girlfriend; “I’m ok, if I get raped it’s my own fault for what I’m wearing.”  (He was wearing slacks and a jacket.  Not that it matters.  Ever.)

Even in my own circles I began to see incidences of rape culture.  When women who played the sorts of games I played spoke out about mistreatment and abuse by other gamers were shamed and marginalized with no repercussions.  The YouTube comments were a toxic sludge of filthy language towards such women.

I like to believe that most everyone considers their actions to be morally justified.  That they’re not bad people, just doing what they know.  But when I read those comments I wondered, “How can these people consider themselves to be good? How do they rationalize their behaviour when they looked their mothers, wives and daughters in the eye?”

I decided then that I didn’t ever want to be that kind of man.

I started to read more about sexual assaults of all kinds, from football teams passing around an incoherent teenager while sexually abusing her and filming it – to rape being used as voter-suppression in Somalia.   From the exceedingly grey area of taking a drunk girl home from the bar and not really knowing what happened afterwards, to the quiet shame and internal conflict that even men can feel at being raped by a woman.

I started to re-examine conventions that seemed to be good and proper.  When a very respectable gentleman said, “There’s no reason for a man to use physical force on a woman, ever.”  I answered, that while I discourage violence towards anyone, I could certainly see reasons why a man would need to use force against a woman.  When asked what that could possibly be?  I responded, “If an enraged woman was violently abusing a child.  That’s a reason.”  I honestly believed (then and now) that it was a disservice to women to claim that they weren’t capable of the sort of heinous actions that would warrant a physical response.

I found myself silently disagreeing with fathers who would speak proudly about how they would “put the fear of God” in their daughters’ boyfriends, as if that was going to ensure that her purity would remain intact and prevent her from being stung by heartbreak.  I decided that I would rather raise my daughter to choose the right man and if I didn’t trust her enough to do that then it would be my failure.

Some of the hardest parts of my new outlook were where I examined my own behaviours and found that I wasn’t always as upstanding as I’d hoped.  I have been slapped. Twice.  And while there was a playful tone that helped whitewash the reasons why, I came to realize that lines had been crossed and I resolved not to cross them again.  I know I still have work to do on that front, but it’s good work and I’m happy do do it.

So today I’m acknowledging my feminism along with great people like Sheryl Sandberg, Sarah McLachlan and Malala Yousafzai.  I don’t hate my gender or believe sex is wrong – as female feminists are often accused of.  I don’t believe that men are meant to be subservient to women, or that we are obsolete.

Instead, I stand for strong, confident, independent women all across the world standing shoulder to shoulder with men. No defined roles or gender-based codes of behaviour.  I stand against sexual slavery, spousal abuse, wage inequality, gender bias/privilege, rape and the cultural norms that condone it.

That’s the way my parents raised me, it will be at the core of the woman I fall in love with, and it’s how we will raise our sons and daughters.

Maybe by doing so, we’ll make the world a little bit better.

 

Happy International Women’s Day 2014.

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The Boys

The Boys

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What’s Not on Fox Today – Sunday Edition 07.29.12

Mitt Romney isn’t making any friends in the UK right now.  

Some international grudge matches to watch for in the Olympics.  US vs China… eeeteresting…

A “secret” website is selling weapons to anyone who wants them.  This is something to watch as far as internet civil liberties are concerned.

And last but not least… Mitt Romney is visiting Israel and if this article is true then I sure hope the American’s won’t be voting him in.  I’m going to be verifying this article’s sources for a few hours.

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What’s Not On Fox Today

I’m trying a new thing where I consolidate the news stories I found interesting here.  I try to keep it just to things I wouldn’t find “on the news” but are still relevant in my mind.  Hopefully I get better at making them seem interesting, but for now, here’s the first instalment.

The USA is smuggling guns into Somalia.  

An Old Canadian News Article Detailing the “Possession” Stalking of Sarah McLachlan.

Technical Drawings for various modern firearms.  As an added note: you can 3D Print them too.

Minecraft is still updating.

Saving Lives: There’s an App for That.

Hoards of Ancient Gold are still being found today.  

Canada’s contribution to the Webb Telescope.

Smart discussion about Corporate Political Opinions. 

Canada’s political rhetoric on Gun Violence.

I wonder if the anti-leak policies potentially effecting the press even matters at this point?  It’s pretty obvious that the only real news is coming from independent bloggers and by the point that they get press passes, they’ve likely been bought already.

Optimistic assessments for Renewable Energy.  I’d love to get in on some of this.

 

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To Those Who Unconditionally Oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project

In light of the recent announcement from the BC Premier’s office regarding the pending approval of the Enbridge pipeline and the seeming universal backlash over it, I’d like to address those who are unconditionally opposed to it.

Allow us to pretend for a minute that you get what you want. The pipeline is not approved to go through BC, the BC environment is saved from the inevitable bitumen spills and the BC coastline remains pristine for future generations. A win for all the world to be sure.

Since the pipeline is denied the Canadian economy stops. BC and Alberta develop unemployment rates higher than Ontario overnight. Unemployment rates in Ontario and the Maritimes go up because Fort Macmurry employs tens of thousands of workers flying them in from as far as Nova Scotia. Fort Mac isn’t the only place to stop though, all the liquid natural gas production in Northern BC is put on hold as well because all that growth was based on a pipeline heading to worthwhile asian markets that would pay 3 times the North American rate. Overall this oil industry slowdown would amount to a minimum of 1 Million Canadians losing their jobs. The ripple effect of that carrying into their families and the commercial businesses they support amounting to an immediate hole of 50 Billion Dollars pulled from the Canadian Economy. How did I get that number? A low end oil industry wage pays $50,000 per year. 1 million people losing that amounts to 50 Billion. That’s at a minimum.

That’s still survivable, after all the GDP of Canada is 1.7 Trillion, 50 Billion is barely a drop in that bucket. So now we get to our international reputation. It becomes better because we are polluting less and saving our pristine environment which might make up for that KYOTO fiasco. Except oddly that’s not what happens at all.

China, which has been investing heavily in Canadian oil and gas reserves is suddenly demanding it’s money back. The companies that took that money have borrow it from the banks to pay back China, except the banks are struggling because a million home owners are defaulting on their mortgages and can’t cover those debts, they petition the government for a “bail out” like Spain and Greece. The international investment community gets wind of that and the Canadian stock market crashes bankrupting everyone’s grandmothers as their pensions become worthless. Meanwhile China still needs that oil. It can’t rely on Middle Eastern oil reserves indefinitely because the United States deliberately destabilizes that region and while Russian reserves are good they don’t lessen the need to diversify as 10,000 new automobiles hit the Chinese roads every day. Energy is a country’s life blood and when you start losing blood you do something about that. War becomes more likely. China is a nuclear power, they start exercising that power. But long before that, they’d begin putting economic pressure on the USA to pressure Canada into getting that pipeline through.

Any one of these consequences would be enough of an arm twist to turn any politician from a tree hugging, granola munching, hippie into Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney is pro-pipeline, so he stops listening to all his granola munching hippie friends and green lights it right. Fucking. Now. Probably with less oversight than before because he LEARNED HIS LESSON. (And probably had his life threatened by both the Canadians who lost their jobs, and the Chinese corporations who want their ROI.)

This is the reality we live in. That pipeline is going through. Are there issues with it? Absolutely. Should we address the the issue of what port it is being pumped-to? Probably would be a start. Should we leverage our environmental concerns for a big royalty cheque that we can bank on to pay for the inevitable oil spills? We better.

So please, everyone who is environmentally conscious. I continue to fight, but fight with a bit of understanding that you can’t stop this but you CAN direct it. Do that.

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Drones: Killing Folks For Cheap

Pretty much all of us are aware that militaries are using drones now, and I’m pretty sure we have an idea about how they work.  What I was pretty ignorant about until lately was the implications of widespread drone usage.  Those implications surprised me and so I’m endeavouring to be one of what I believe to be a very small number of westerners to spread a bit of awareness on the subject.

Drones come in a lot of shapes and sizes and can mean a lot of things, but in this context I’m talking about using unmanned vehicles to do military strikes.  There are of course drones used for non-violent purposes like surveillance and bomb disarming by the military but today I’m talking about armed drones.

Armed drones are not generally remote-control vehicles with guns and bombs.  Remote control vehicles can be subject to security risks like signal jamming and even more dangerously signal piracy (not an official term, but meaning the potential for someone with a bigger/closer antenna along with the encryption codes and probably a few other security breaking measures – taking over the drone and sending it after a different target).  No, remote control isn’t used as much as we’d hope.  Usually these drones are autonomous.  They have a program with parameters and they execute those parameters without any human steering the controls.

I hope the humanitarian implications of that are obvious.  There’s going to be civilian casualties from that sort of delivery system, that’s a given.  However, while every innocent life lost is a tragedy; war is war and innocent lives have and will continue to be lost with or without drones.  And while there are some fairly questionable things a certain military power is doing to insulate it’s self from the legal backlash of using such an imprecise method of killing, I don’t think that’s particularly game changing.  There are some far more Pandora-inspiring aspects to drones.

Drones re-write the resource requirement book in regards to modern warfare.

Let me explain.
Wars used-to cost more than money.  They also require public support, and by extension; people willing to potentially sacrifice their lives.  That was the true resource.  It was more than just the wages of a soldier, it was the indoctrination, the training, the goodwill required to take a young man just beginning his productive existence as an adult and potentially send him to his death.   All that costs costs a huge amount, and that’s just a soldier.  With a suicide bomber the resources for finding a viable candidate and indoctrinating them is quite high as well which makes suicide bombers a very coveted military asset.  Drones make suicide bombers obsolete.
My point is, human resources are limited.  Money, comparatively speaking, is not.

The implication here is that right now the United States is conducting the lion’s share their war against Al Qaeda without having to worry about that fickle goodwill of the American people by using drones.  No one cares about wars that are happening as long as their sons and friends aren’t dying.  There might be deaths, but those deaths are somewhere else and there are always more pressing concerns in the here and now.

But that’s a good thing, right?  More (literal) bang for the buck!  Sure, until it comes back the other way.  Drones are cheap for EVERYONE and makes payback just a little bit more accessible.

That’s problem with drones.  They’re just one aspect of Pandora’s big-ol box that’s being opened in warfare these days.  Drones can be made out of parts that could potentially be bought at Radio Shack.  The programming can be potentially stolen, imitated, and altered and the methods of detecting and stopping the construction and deployment of destructive drones becomes more of a logistical implausibility with each passing day.

We North Americans haven’t seen any widespread armed conflict on our shores in a very long while, but this is just one of the reasons why I believe this good fortune could be ending in the relatively near future.

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