Posts Tagged ‘Gender and Inequality’

Riding in a Streetcar Named (Feminist) Desire

Today I came across a very interesting post written by Lynette Long that I had to share.

She wrote an eye-opening piece about street signs. At first glance, the topic may sound like quite the bore, but she digs deeper and uncovers an all too familiar skeleton in the closet – gender inequality!

How many streets do you pass on any given day? Did you ever give them much thought aside from using them to steer you in the right direction to find your destination? I didn’t.

Sometimes the things we see all the time are the things we overlook.

In Lynette Long’s post, Name That Street, she mentions how “street signs are inexpensive, highly visible, and long lasting” ways of commemorating people who have shaped history. The problem she noticed is that most streets are named after men.

What about women? Why don’t we pay tribute to them also? Haven’t they shaped the community around them, too?

How do you feel about this? Does it hit a feminist nerve?

Step Aside, Beefcakes! Mancakes Are the Latest Hotcakes!

Haha, just saw this, and it was too good not to share! I read about this here if you want to read the original document. (I’ve spaced out the text to make it neater.)

Mancakes are selling like hotcakes in Toronto bakery

“Mancakes are the latest iteration of man-prefixed goodies, following in the footsteps of mantyhose and man purses.

Taking hold in North America, the so-called “manly cupcakes” eschew traditional vanilla and chocolate for such macho flavours as bacon, rum and coke, and beer, and are subverting the treats’ traditional girly image of pink frosting, icing sugar flowers and sprinkles.

In Toronto, For the Love of Cake has had such high demand for its mancakes that cake master Genevieve Griffin has doubled the bakery’s daily offerings. “It’s been a great way of getting guys interested in cupcakes,” she told the Montreal Gazette. But as David Arrick of Butch Bakery in New York has said, some 90 per cent of customers have been women buying for men.”

I think that it’s funny how cupcakes (cupcakes!) are making people more conscious of gender stereotypes. You could have people protesting on the street who completely get ignored, but cupcakes will stop onlookers in their tracks.

Genevieve’s quite clever. And I think it’s hilarious that David Arrick works at a place called Butch Bakery. Also, who the heck isn’t interested in cupcakes? Those people are just crazy! (Yep, I pass judgment. So judge me!)

What are you waiting for, men? Get out there. Get your stereotypically masculine cupcakes! (And please pick up one for me while you’re there!)

Featured Feminist: Lindsey Van (Ski-Jump Champion & Winter-Olympics Challenger)

Are you getting into the Winter Olympics? I haven’t been following every event (who has?), but I did manage to see quite a bit of speed skating and mogul skiing. (So far, Canada has 5 medals in total – 2 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze. Woo – go Canada!)

Now let’s get on with the latest Featured Feminist profile.

Lindsey Van

Birthday: November 27, 1984

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan (USA)

Claim to Fame: At the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2009, she captured gold for her performance in Liberec. She also secured 8 Continental Cup victories.

Why You Should Care: She’s one of the female skiers who’s actively fighting for gender equality within the sport.

Now, I don’t follow many professional skiers, but Lindsey Van is one I recently started paying special attention to. Why? According to Time:

“Lindsey Van holds the record — among both men and women — for the longest jump off of Whistler, B.C.’s normal ski jump, built for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.”

It’s impressive alone to hold a record, but to compete with both genders and still come out on top? Now that’s something to brag about. You’re the cream of the crop. And clearly she’s ambitious – at just 25 years old, she’s been ski jumping for 19 years! Crazy!

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the news, you’ve probably heard that although Lindsey Van is certainly a qualified skier, she wasn’t a ski-jump competitor in the Vancouver Winter Olympics. And neither was any other woman.

Start the feminist fire – things are gonna get hot!

The International Olympic Committee has kept ski jumping the sole Olympic sport that remains men-only despite numerous women ski jumpers petitioning since 1998.

I’m sure that you’re as curious as I was to learn exactly why women aren’t allowed to compete in ski jumping. There must be a logical reason, right? Wrong! There were lots of excuses, but the ‘funniest’ one I read was a 2005 statement made by Gian Franco Kasper (the FIS president and International Olympic Committee member) who thought that it “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.” Really? Sounds like someone’s been studying medical textbooks from the 1800s. I wonder how he explains how she kicked serious ass and held a record among both women and men.

Watch this MSNBC video to hear from Lindsey herself and other ski jumpers on this issue. You’ll get lots of additional background information on gender discrimination in ski jumping. It’s just 10 minutes and 43 seconds long, but it’s worth watching the whole thing.

Why I Consider Her a Feminist

She’s fighting for what’s right – gender equality. And that’s something to be commended, not condemned. If her skiing achievements don’t floor you, it’s her desire to not only see, but contribute to a change in the world. We can all be armchair feminists and point our fingers at what’s wrong and what needs to be changed, but if we never physically act upon it and voice our opinions, that change may never come about.

Passion is one of the qualities I always look for in my friends and people who I admire. She seems to have it in spades. In sports, there’s a disproportionate number of women compared to men, so it’s especially important to have a frontline woman challenging the status quo. It’s inspiring!

For a dramatic visual that really gets the message across, please check out this 57-second YouTube clip that illustrates how women have to really fight for their right to compete in sports that men already get to compete in:

But for those of you who don’t want to watch it, I’ll summarize its message. Women and men have been allowed to compete in Olympic Winter Games events at different times. Women are only approved to compete at a much-later date:

  • Speed Skating: Men (1924) & Women (1960)
  • Bobsled: Men (1924) & Women (2002)
  • Ski Jumping: Men (1924) & Women (2014?)

The clip ends by saying, “Let’s not just bridge the gap in 2014. Let’s jump over it.” Well said!

But like every strong woman, she has strong opinions. According to Wikipedia, “she alienated many supporters when she characterized the Canadian legal system as ‘weak’ and said the International Olympic Committee was ‘like the Taliban of the Olympics.'”

Whether or not you agree with her on either points shouldn’t make you lose sight of the bigger picture – she’s fighting for gender equality within the sport. That should take precedence. And that’s why I chose her for this Featured Feminist section.

I don’t choose people for this section because they are saints or say politically-correct things to the media. I don’t choose them because they always do the right thing. I choose them because they’re doing some good. Big difference. Everybody can fall, but not everyone can get back up.

Thank you, Lindsey Van, for putting women on the ski-jumping map. And thank you for putting yourself on the line for women’s rights all over the world!

It’s Glockoma, Bitch! Is Being Nice Really a Sign of Lacking Personality?

GlockomaI struggled to write and complete this blog entry because I was worried that it lacked focus and cohesion. Also, I couldn’t seem to convey a strong opinion on the chosen topic or even answer many of the questions I posed. But I’ve decided to post it anyway for what it’s worth. My thoughts may appear scattered and my prose may be clumsy, but it’s from the heart…and the middle finger. Sit up when you eat.

GlockomaEx-lovers subjecting each other to verbal lacerations that pack more bite than a provoked Pitt Bull. A gang member’s Stink Eye that tells you to back the fuck off or you’ll be missing some pearly whites and your wallet.

And then there’s the selfish bastard responsible for the largest investor fraud ever committed by a single person, along with the bruised prostitute who clings perilously to the thimble of self-esteem she has left.

Sometimes real life is so depressing that you find yourself automatically reaching for the whiskey and not noticing how god-awful it tastes. Then the bottle’s dry, and you thirst for happiness. But you’re left with a hangover.

The news is punctuated with so many stories of hatred and corruption that sometimes I think it really is a mad world. And as people, we are disgusting, taking enjoyment in digging up the dirt on others. Why do we do this? How is this adaptive? Why do we like airing out other people’s dirty laundry when we can’t even clean our own?

Hypocrisy is the new virus, and we are all infected.

Glockoma

Our society is drawn to negative sensation like moths to a flame – it’s like some strange addiction where we know the needle hurts, but we still need our fix.

We feast upon juicy gossip like the ridiculous Christian Bale outburst on set or the shockingly tragic way David Carradine died. Jon & Kate Plus 8 becoming Jon Minus Kate Plus 8. Susan Boyle’s hospitalization for exhaustion. Heidi Montag’s public breakdown on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! Honey, I could go on longer than the Energizer Bunny.

Is ‘Nice’ a Dish Best Served Cold?

GlockomaMy grade 7 teacher told the class to never use the word ‘nice’ ever again because it carries scant meaning. And when I think about it now, it’s true. Nice has become synonymous with mediocre. It’s not enough to be nice in the School of Hard Knocks. To graduate with honours, you have to make a statement that ends with exclamation marks. Stand out. Be heard. Be different.

Now it’s time to open up the can of worms…

The problem with nice people is that they’re so easily forgettable. And especially in the workplace, they’re the ones who are often overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated. You might even say that being nice is for chumps.

GlockomaNorth American culture socializes us to ignore and even belittle the shy, quiet one. If anything, we consider them ‘boring’. Well, why do we need people to be a marching band all the time, banging drums like a 2-year-old on kitchen pots? For one, people notice the rabble-rousers more than the church mice.

We can’t ignore the Janice Dickinsons and Simon Cowells of the world. They’re strongly opinionated, rarely apologetic, stubborn as mules, and overflowing with sarcasm. With nice people, you don’t get the snippy remarks, the funny put-downs, or the Shock Factor. You get Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book with a side order of humble pie.

Mean or obnoxious people have an undeniable sense of self-confidence, ooze personality, and fight to attain selfish goals without concern of whose toes they’ve stepped on. They don’t even care how often they have to lie through their coffee-stained teeth to get what they want.

Being an individualistic prick can easily be spun as being a leader, whereas shy violets are often perceived as losers. Yeah, it’s not fair, but the world isn’t fair, so if we don’t do something to bring about some balance, we’re just sucking on a lemon.

Gets Some Edjumacation

GlockomaGlockomaI read some snippets from this interesting book called Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel. Apparently as girls, we picked up some bad habits (such as smiling inappropriately and presenting statements in a question) that are now impeding our chances of upward mobility at work. Basically we need to say goodbye to the ‘Nice Girl’ standard and get into the role of Assertive Woman.

Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work by Deborah Tannen is another book I want to get my hands on. Among the many key issues outlined, Library Journal emphasizes how “women say ‘I’m sorry’ without actually apologizing and tend to use an indirect manner of speech. These styles make women appear less confident, competent, and professional. However, women who learn to speak like men are accused of being aggressive and unfeminine.”

Obviously tossing out all the Rules of Lady Etiquette isn’t right, either. I’m not suggesting we clip our toenails on the subway while screaming profanities at everyone within earshot. We need to learn not just when to speak up and stand up for ourselves, but more importantly how to do it effectively. And the men out there need to learn how to listen.

Singled Out for Being Alone: The One Who Doesn’t Board Noah’s Ark

GlockomaTurn on the radio at any time, and listen to five songs. Chances are that at least one was a mushy love song.

And if you’ve followed Mariah Carey’s musical career (like I have), you’ve come to the conclusion that she just can’t sing about anything besides love. (Think Vision of Love, Always Be My Baby, Dreamlover, I Stay in Love, etc.)

(Watch The Raveonette’s music video, That Great Love Sound, for a different albeit morbid/psychotic twist. They’re one of my favourites, and I really like what they’ve done in the video because it’s not what you would expect if you just heard the lyrics.)

We live in a society where walking hand-in-hand to board Noah’s Ark is considered The Right Path in Life. The increasing popularity of online dating services speaks volumes of how prevalent the love ideal is. “Find your match today!”, they say. Or, “The only thing you have to lose is your loneliness.”

The same thing I say about computers holds true for relationships – they’re only good when they work. But probably my favourite personal quotation I’ve come up with is this: “A good boyfriend is  like a good bra – supportive.”

Truth be told, love is wonderful, exciting, and all-consuming. Whenever I fall in love, I’m giddy 24/7, I can’t wipe the smile off my face, and I want to devote all my time helping that Special Someone.

But they don’t call it falling in love for nothing. Sometimes the fall is so hard and fast that we get emotional bruises – some of which we feel will never ever fade but that will just get bigger and more painful. And sometimes the scrapes leave behind scars that we pick at later on in life, only to have them bleed like brand-new injuries. (I think Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton convey this well in Crowd Surf off a Cliff. Sip some red wine with this one.)

Is One Really the Loneliest Number?

Glockoma

GlockomaLately I’ve been doing lots of thinking about the single life because I got out of a serious relationship a couple of days before Valentine’s Day this year and just in time to completely ruin my birthday celebration later that month. (But at least he didn’t dump me like a total dick such as the one Jon Lajoie parodies.)

He and I had been dating for over 2 years. And it was more fucking intense than being married because not only did we live together, but we worked together, too. We were practically like Siamese twins doing everything together. And we felt invincible against the glaring statistics telling us that couples who live together have lower chances of getting married.

Reality crashes down like a hailstorm of serrated daggers sometimes. Now we both live separately and alone, but we still work together (although that will change). We’re trying to salvage a friendship because we want to build bridges instead of walls, but the task is probably more overwhelming than either of us imagined.

I thought he was my soulmate. (Who else would find my insecurities charming?) But to keep my sanity, I have to retrain my brain into thinking of him as only a friend.

As a feminist, I believe that women don’t require men to be happy, but I find myself floundering in depression without the one man I truly loved, trusted, and admired. This dissonance concerns and confuses me. What should I do? How can I move on? What if I never find The One? Can I be happy as a single female?

The Balancing Act

GlockomaBeing single has also forced me to notice how differently single women are perceived compared to single men. And it’s not fair. But life’s not fair, and the sooner we all accept that, the sooner we can suck it up, and become stronger, smarter individuals.

Unfortunately, these are the common descriptions associated with single females versus single males:

Single Female

  • Lonely
  • Sad
  • Shy
  • Physically Unattractive

Single Male

  • Independent
  • Strong
  • Powerful
  • Confident

Why does the man come out on top? I believe that all 8 descriptions can apply to both genders. But in lots of research I’ve read while studying psychology in university, they seem to suggest that the woman often is perceived more negatively.

Married to the Mob

GlockomaGlockomaAs I’m in my late 20’s, I find myself thinking more and more about marriage. Yes, I pictured it all – I was going to wear a black-and-crimson dress, the reception decor would have a glam Old-Hollywood/gothic theme, the guest list would be very intimate, and the DJ would spin records on a vintage phonograph. There wouldn’t be white anywhere, except for maybe the walls or plates.

But now it’s back to the drawing board. Win, Lose, or Draw…

I jumped right into a serious relationship after I ended my previous one, so it has been a long time since I’ve experienced singledom.

My heart still stings. And my eyes still get fucking flooded with tears at the drop of a hat despite me trying to keep them at bay. Is this weakness? Is this cathartic? It’s been months since the break-up, yet my emotions are as strong as Day One.

The Sweet Hereafter

GlockomaNow that everything’s still raw, I’m confronting these issues:

  • Source of Happiness: Why do I rely so much on other people to make me happy?
  • Self-Exploration: What can I learn about myself now that I can’t ‘lean on’ someone?
  • Fighting Loneliness: What can I do to keep myself busy & foster positive thinking?
  • Future Relationships: How will I ever be able to trust someone again?
  • Time to Say Goodbye: If he cuts me completely out of his life, will I be able to cope?
  • Exciting Opportunities: How can I make the most of this time?

Here’s what I’ll be actively doing to get my life back on track:

  • Hanging out with friends more & making new ones
  • Working on my humourous office-politics book & eventually attempting to have it published
  • Hitting the gym to work off some steam
  • Pursing new hobbies to keep myself entertained & happy
  • Reducing my intake of booze – I am a hardcore tequila enthusiast, but I can’t continue to feed the flame & make my liver suffer

Hopefully if I make all these changes, in a few months’ time, I will start feeling happy and good about myself again.

Have you been through a bad break-up? How did you deal with it? Did you stoop really low before rising up? I’d love for you to share your stories with me.

Until next time, glock ’til you drop!

The F Word Isn’t a Gordon Ramsay TV Show. It’s Feminism & It’s Real Food for Thought

FeminismForget water-filtration systems, energy-saving light bulbs, and Hybrid cars. The greatest invention is language. And because we use it all the time, of course we take it for granted (much like everything else that’s important in our lives).

Well, the glock stops here.

If we think that we’re so smart, then it’s time we start acting like it and choose our words wisely because as you know, they might be our last. Let’s go out with a big bang, okay? R.I.P, damn chauvinism!

The Male Norm Is Abnormal

Did you know that English-grammar rules were first written in the 16th and 17th centuries? During this time, very few women could read and write, as they didn’t have the same educational opportunities as men.

Some women who were the exception had to use male pen names in order to get their books published! And to be ‘taken seriously’ by publishers and readers, a number of women resorted to using gender-neutral pseudonyms.

The English-grammar books were written by men and they were intended as study aids for boys from upper-class families. That being said, it should come as no surprise that the language contains a heavy male-centered worldview. But don’t worry, we can KO gender inequality with what we say and write.

Blow the Whistle & Order Around Pronouns at Boot Camp

FeminismI want you to actively look for this one – it shouldn’t be hard to find because there are loads of guilty parties. Keep your eyes peeled like a banana for the order of personal pronouns. More often than not, you’ll notice that people usually use “he or she” and “his or hers”.

FeminismMany times when you change the order and put the woman first, readers mention that it “sounds weird”. Why is that? Why must the man be mentioned first always? And why is putting the woman first so wrong? These are all good questions.

To this day, no one has been able to justify the male-first order to my satisfaction. And to my dismay, I’ve caught many Psychology Today articles following that traditional format despite their claims of forward-thinking.

Let’s stop perpetuating the myth that women are (what Simone de Beauvoir coined) “the second sex”.

You could bring more attention to the matter by simply using “she or he” and “hers and his” on occasion.

Or you could go another route and use “(s)he” for true equality. Of course, eliminating your usage of gender-identifying personal pronouns is also an option, but I find it cumbersome and cold at times.

Man, I Feel like a Woman!

FeminismSometimes I can’t believe that in this day and age, people still use “he” to refer to both females and males. Case in point, here’s an example: “To avoid getting slapped with a speeding ticket, a driver should stick to the posted speed limit or he might have to pay the fine.” The driver could just as easily be a woman.

As of today (April 26, 2009), if you hit up Wikipedia and scroll down to the chart, this is what you’ll see:

“He: Third person singular, masculine / gender-neutral third person singular

She: Third person singular, feminine”

How is “he” gender-neutral, but “she” is distinctly feminine and separate? Sniff sniff…I smell something, and it reeks of chauvinism trying to segregate women in a category that’s deemed of lesser importance.

Well, glock that!

I challenge you all to change the way you use personal pronouns every day. It’s a simple change that makes a huge difference in how we treat and define women as equals.

Everything great eventually comes to an end. But this is just the beginning…

The fruition of this feminist blog has been a long time coming. It’s now ready to be plucked from its branch and shared.

First and foremost, my goal is to stimulate healthy discourse and to motivate people to challenge the status quo. Second, I hope to connect the dots between ideologies of female empowerment and practical applications of feminist theory.  In an allergy-free nutshell, I want to build upon my current beliefs and to become inspired by others.

Everybody’s welcome here.

Inspired by the women’s movement? Know of some great books by feminist women and feminist men? You’ve got my undivided attention. Come join the hot debate on gender and inequality.

Together, we will define what is feminism.

As a woman living in what James Brown called ‘a man’s world’, I know how easy it is to let the chauvinist bullshit we digest on a daily basis eat away at our core like a corrosive chemical. That’s what happens when we internalize too much and don’t try hard enough to find solutions.

In this feminist blog, I’ll take a firm stance and voice my concerns about the traditionally-accepted patriarchy. Along the way, I’ll share proactive ways to counter negative influences on women. After all, nobody likes a chronic complainer who sits around all day pointing their cranky cane at everything left, right, and center.

I will tell it like I see it – no Little Miss Manners here. While I’m not one to run my mouth with profanity like diarrhea, on occasion, you will stumble across some swear words. If that offends you, clearly you’re reading the wrong blog.

I also won’t play you for a fool – my opinion isn’t the be-all, end-all. No pooping plastic here, Barbie. I trip over my words like I sometimes do my feet. But hopefully this personal (yet public) exploration into the realms of feminism will help me (and others) define what it means to be a modern woman dealing with modern dilemmas.

Let’s give them something to glock about!

Feminism

But before I pull the trigger of my e-glock and target reasons why the fabric of society could use a good washing, I feel it necessary to clearly outline what feminism is and what it isn’t. Seems like there is such a strong and widespread misunderstanding that it turns people off right from the get-go.

According to Dictionary.com:

Feminism

[femuh-niz-uhm] – noun

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.

Now, let’s be clear. There are many different sects of feminism just like how there are many different denominations for religion. Lumping everything under one umbrella is like squeezing that 14th clown into the Smart car – it stinks!

In my feminist blog, this is not the type of feminism I promote:

  • Man-hating
  • Choosing the woman over the man in every scenario

Finally, are all feminists lesbians with short gelled hair? No, but some are. Anyone (female, male, lesbian, gay, bi-curious, asexual, transgendered, hermaphrodite, Yankee fan, glue sniffer, etc.) can be proud to call themselves a feminist. It’s more a way of thinking than it is about appearances. And as we both know all too well, appearances are definitely deceiving.

With all of the above said, we can continue.

Welcome, dear reader! I hope you follow me as I put my personal stamp and sarcasm on social norms, pop culture, and everything else we take for granted. This is my feminist lens, and I hope it helps you see clearly.

Okay, I’m ready to glock!

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