26 September 2007

Harper at CFR

Before I get into this, does anybody out there subscribe to the PMO mailing list? Are you also not getting any messages from them lately? **Update** Never mind, just received two of them this morning. Good job, old chap, on the surplus!**

Luckily, I do still receive the podcasts (yes, I listen to the Prime Minister on my iPod...Bush's weekly radio address too), and the latest release is Harper's speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York this week. It is a great speech, delivered in front of a highly intelligent audience, and the Q&A that followed the speech is equally impressive. For those who don't know, the CFR is the body that publishes the most influential political science journal in the United States, that being Foreign Affairs. So the questions they ask are top-notch IR/poli sci stuff, and they result in serious responses from a serious prime minister. It is a far cry from the usual sham that goes on when he is interviewed by the Canadian mainstream media.

In the early minutes of the speech, Harper spoke of the need to promote democracy in the world, as well as open markets, the rule of law, and political pluralism. A more democratic world will be a more secure world, in which people are more free to pursue their dreams without fear of repression from their government. To hear Harper talking about this is very welcome to me. His section on Afghanistan was inspiring while remaining pragmatic. He understands that all the social, political, and economic progress in Afghanistan will arise out of a secure state, and that further progress in Afghanistan will bolster the security of the state. When people have a stake in a brighter future, they will be more willing to defend it. At this time, Afghanistan cannot do so on its own, and Canada has a responsibility to help, and it is fulfilling that. I hope that when decision time comes next April, Canadians of all political stripes will look at the accomplishments we have made there and helped the Afghan people achieve, and realize that we cannot walk away from that prematurely.

To conclude, it would be fantastic if Harper spoke with such clarity and conviction when making speeches for domestic consumption. However, he can only give amazing responses to relevant questions, and that is something the Canadian media need to realize. The political theatre environment of Canadian domestic politics today doesn't exactly encourage the type of speech that Harper gave at the CFR. It's all about the soundbite, who can "get" who the most often and the hardest. To date, Afghanistan has not been treated with the seriousness it deserves. Opposition politicians talk about how Afghanistan wasn't among Harper's "five priorities" in the last election, or that because the work is hard we should come home, or any number of asinine things that are said with an eye on the next SES poll. When conducting foreign policy, domestic politicking should not have a place at the table. Doing what is right and in the country's national interest should be first and foremost among considerations as to what actions, if any, the state should take. Promoting democracy, in the Americas, in Afghanistan, and all over the world is in the Canadian interest, and the political wrangling of leftist opposition parties undermines that pursuit.

23 September 2007

Habs Win! Habs Win! **now with video!**

**Update** Video!

Tomas Plekanec scores his third goal of the game during a 2-man advantage

Chris Higgins on a penalty shot. This guy is going to be a huge star!

4-3 over Boston! Tomas Plekanec had a natural hat trick, and Chris Higgins scored the other marker for the Habs. I'd forgotten that Chuck Kobasew is a Bruin now, so it was cool to see at least one Kelowna Rockets alumni tonight (Josh Gorges wasn't in the line-up for Montreal). Jaroslav Halak looked good in goal, Ryan O'Byrne had a short fight and was solid defensively all night long, and there were a lot of Habs fans in the audience. It was a great time. Pics? You betcha!

Jaroslav Halak warming up.

6'5" Ryan O'Byrne.

Chris Higgins and Andrei Kostitsyn

Chris Higgins -- note the A!

Ceremonial opening face-off featuring CF personnel recently returned from Afghanistan

Jaroslav Halak minding the net

Michael Ryder in action

Capital G and Michael Ryder

Great save by Halak!

Habs Win!

Tasha got the game puck!!!

I got to hold the game puck!

Carey Price signing autographs

Chris Higgins signing

Michael Ryder signing Capital G!!!

Me and my multi-signed jersey: Mike Komisarek, J.P. Cote, Ryan O'Byrne, Bryan Smolinski, Ben Maxwell, Chris Higgins, Kyle Chipchura, and assistant coach (and member of the 1993 Stanley Cup Champions!) Kirk Muller. I also got Ryder to sign the base of his action figure. Very cool of him to do two things for me.

All in all, a fantastic night. Really looking forward to seeing them again on April 5th against Toronto. As always, GO HABS GO!!!

I Don't Need Your Civil War

It isn't often that I feel motivated to comment on the status of my former political party. However, the last week has been absolutely disastrous for the Liberals, and it would be remiss of me to not comment on it.
The situation is now being described as a civil war by none other than Sheila Copps. I had the opportunity to meet Miss Copps in 2003 and I very nearly ended up supporting her for the Liberal leadership that year. I bring this up because it is evidence that I respect her opinion and her insights. There were a couple of policy disagreements between us that ultimtaely led in me backing the greatest footnote in Canadian political history, but that in no way limits my respect for her. When she says that the old rivalries are resurfacing with new faces, I believe her. She knows many more people in higher places than I ever did in the Party, so her words should be taken seriously.
So it is the case that in September 2007 the Liberal Party of Canada is still engaged in the same internecine struggles that were damaging it in the period of 2002-2004. Rumours abound of plots to overthrow Stephane Dion's leadership, many of those plots focusing on Michael Ignatieff, but some also fingerpointing at Bob Rae. It is not entirely surprising that the impetus for all of this is a poor performance in 3 Quebec by-elections. Dion is a Quebec man, and it was believed that his long experience with the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio and his self-proclaimed championing of a cause important to many Quebeckers--the environment--would help rebound sagging fortunes in the province. It turns out that the opposite has proven true. Dion hasn't established his credibility on the environmental file, having been criticized by former Cabinet colleagues who noted his lackadaisacal attitude when he was Environment Minister, and it turns out that many people in Quebec don't really appreciate his handling of Quebec-Ottawa relations. Plus he had a terrible organizational approach to the three elections, losing a long-standing Liberal stronghold and garnering a popular vote in the teens over the 3 ridings.
Cue the plotting. Ignatieff came out of the Montreal Convention as the runner-up to Dion. He was unable to grow his support from his initial 30% range on the first ballot to win the leadership, and I personally doubt that he'll be willing to stick around in Canadian politics as an opposition party critic for a long time when he knows that he could go back to any university and be the head of its political science department. Those hallways are less cutthroat than politics--Canadian and/or Liberal--and I would not be surprised if he regularly hears offers from institutions looking to add his formidable talents to their university. So it's either aim for coup or go back to academia for him. By all accounts, it seems he's going to try the coup first.
However, all of this neglects to look at the biggest problem the Liberal Party faces today. It is not that it's the same cast of stale characters or even the lack of a serious policy platform. It is criminal that they haven't held a policy convention since February 2005, that they don't articulate a consistent set of policies that liberals can rally around, sure. The biggest problem with the Liberal Party today is that it is called the Liberal Party. The brand is broken, toxic even. Back when Paul Martin became the party leader, the membership ranks boasted over half a million. Today it is a fraction of that. I don't know the numbers, but there are no pronouncements of mega-majorities or standing-proud local organizations looking to sign up every human soul in sight (living or dead, eh Joe Volpe?), so it is safe to assume that people have tuned out the Liberals. The absence of a message helps, but the lingering hostility over sponsorship, the fighting, the Martinites, and so much more takes precedence. Back in 2003 there was some hope for Liberals to make breakthroughs in areas that they had been shut out of since the days of Trudeau. Those are long gone, and they're now on the defensive even in bastions like Toronto and Montreal. Announce that you're a Liberal in some places and people may hiss and bear pitchforks.
What can they do? Rebuild, top to bottom. Make concrete steps to differentiate themselves from the Liberal brand of the recent past. Transforming one's image is difficult but it can be done--look at Stephen, formerly "Scary," Harper and his continued success as Prime Minister. Drop the arrogance, drop the "blame the voters" mentality, don't accuse people who disagree with you of lacking a "social conscience," don't formulate talking points around George W. Bush. Talk about your vision, talk about liberal values, compassion, humanity, a "role of pride and influence in the world," things that people can support. If they don't, these civil wars will be without end, and every leader will spend an inordinate amount of time looking over his shoulder to find out who is plotting to put a knife between his shoulder blades.

22 September 2007

Meet the Habs Goalie of the Future

The media guide has it wrong. His name is actually Hairy Price.

21 September 2007

Take Back the Night Halifax

Next Friday, September 28th, there will be a Take Back the Night March organized by the Dalhousie Women's Centre. Women and male allies will be meeting at 7pm at Victoria Park, across from the Public Gardens, at the intersection of Spring Garden Rd. and South Park St.

All those who support a woman's right to walk alone at any time in any place free from the threat of violence and intimidation are welcome to attend, and I encourage people to get in touch with the Dalhousie Women's Centre to find out how they can participate in the organization of the March. Their website is: http://www.dalwomenscentre.ca/

18 September 2007

Why The White Ribbon Campaign Exists

Every so often someone will ask me why I'm a feminist--some of the more nefarious folks will ask why I'm a "gender traitor"--I saw the video below today via Feministing. It is truly horrible to watch the manner in which this man treats his wife, how he manipulates her in every way, and how he turned her children against her. It is this case, and the countless undocumented others just like it, that make me a feminist. This is the reason that I am proud to be part of the White Ribbon Campaign.

It contains graphic language and violence, so watch at your own discretion. I would also suggest avoiding the comments in the thread, as the usual band of misogynists on YouTube have appeared.

15 September 2007

Last Game of the NHL Season

This past April, the Habs and the Leafs squared off, with a berth in the playoffs on the line. If Montreal won the game, they were in. If Toronto won, and New Jersey beat the Islanders the next day, Toronto would be in the playoffs. Sadly, Toronto won.

That was last year.

This year, the two teams play each other again in the final game of the regular season. But this year is different.

One, it's in Montreal.

Two, I'm going to be there!

12 September 2007

PM Harper's Australian Parliament Speech

This morning I listened to the PM's address to the Australian Parliament. Unlike certain Liberal bloggers, I didn't go into hysterics over any part of it. Rather, I feel that if Harper were to deliver addresses like this one to Canadian audiences, he'd be in majority territory in no time. He spoke of Afghanistan, and Canada's hard work there, in terms that outline the broad strategic objectives, giving the audience a clear impression of why we're there and what we hope to accomplish. This dialogue is often absent in the day-to-day discourse of Canadian political theatre. Yes, it was a special speech to a foreign parliament, and one can always expect a lot of high-minded platitudes about shared interests and values in these speeches, but it is these types of speeches that inspire and move people. One good way to shake the public out of its apathy is to inspire them.

09 September 2007

Sunday Night Quick Hits

  • The press around Brian Mulroney's upcoming memoirs, including the CTV special tonight, has given me a new sense of respect for the former PM. Unfortunately, despite all my studies in Canadian political science and political history, I've never gotten a real lesson on his era, and I'm too young to remember what Canadian life was like under his leadership. Obviously I live with the GST and NAFTA, but I've never fully known why he is so hated by so many people. He is to liberals what Pierre Trudeau is to conservatives: a man to be loathed for all eternity for undermining their vision of Canada. Also, my respect for Trudeau has been consistently diminishing for some time now, and this past week hasn't helped my perception of him much.
  • In two weeks I'll be seeing the Montreal Canadiens in action for the first time since 2003. Really looking forward to it, even if it's just pre-season hockey. At least I'll get a look at Carey Price before he (hopefully) makes the team.
  • Roger Federer is simply too good.
  • The number of rapes on Canadian university campuses during the first week of school is deeply disturbing and highlights the prevalence of male violence against women. So prevalent is it that first-year students aren't even surprised by it anymore. From the TorStar today: Jenevieve Narbay, 18, and Victoria Goutsouliak, 18, both in their first year at York, said they're not surprised by the attacks. "It's such a big university and it's happened here before," Goutsouliak said. "We've become desensitized to it."
  • As always I encourage people from the Maritime region to get involved with the White Ribbon Campaign - Halifax. I've got some promotional materials and would appreciate some help with distributing them and setting up a larger-scale organization. All email inquiries can be sent to: whiteribbonhfx@eastlink.ca
  • Make sure to pay attention to the Petraeus Report tomorrow. Its impact on the American direction in Iraq will be huge, and likely to shape policy for the next few months, possibly resulting in drawdown of American forces there.

07 September 2007

Manufacturing Interest in Stripping

Human trafficking. Murder. Rape. Assault. Drug addiction. Coercion. Intimidation. Degradation. These are but some of the most severe traumas women endure when they are entangled in prostitution. It is the oldest form of male violence against women, and because it has proven to be so enduring, many assume that it is inevitable, something that will always be a part of society. Fatalism and acceptance of the unacceptable are two of the mitigating factors in the struggle to end male violence against women.

Many of those traumas apply also to women who work as strippers. Many young women are abducted and forcibly relocated to work in this segment of the "sex industry." Many will end up becoming prostituted women. Many will experience the same forms of male violence that prostituted women do. They have to endure endless vile comments from male patrons of strip clubs, people who don't regard them as human beings telling them the things they would like to do to these young women and then throwing a five-dollar bill at them. Many of these men claim that strippers hold a "power" over them that "makes" them give up their money, but how many of them have a conscience about the terrible things they say or even do to these young women? Further, how ludicrous do those claims of "power" sound to a woman that is naked and vulnerable in an audience of drunk, aggressive men who are all fully clothed and already demonstrating a contempt for her humanity, her life, her existence? What does it say about men that they relish these temples of misogyny and the opportunity to go leer at a bunch of naked teenagers with their friends?

Further, what does it say when that behaviour carries on outside the walls of the strip club? We know what the men themselves say: they say that women could/should be strippers, too. They portray this as a "compliment," as if a woman's highest calling is to take her clothes off for male approval and gaze. A woman in a dress shirt can have a future either as a business executive or a stripper. Which does the male prefer, the former or the latter? When there's a sense of entitlement, that any woman should be available to him at any time for his pleasure, obviously he would prefer her to be standing up on a stage and denied her agency and have her feel completely vulnerable. After all, if she's in a boardroom delivering the quarterly report, she's unavailable.

Could this be the motivation behind the campaign to glamorize stripping? I would suggest yes. By shoving the ugly realities under the rug and hiding them from view, men have created a false impression of what stripping truly entails. Look at music videos or television shows that feature trips to the strip club: they never feature the comments from drunken dishevelled men, they never show the women breaking down into tears after realizing the loss of their dignity, the backstage drug use, the rapes in the alley behind the club, they only show everybody having a wonderful time--the happy hooker myth. Anybody that's ever read commentaries from women who have been involved in stripping know the truth, and that's what causes so much frustration surrounding the ignorance of the great majority of the population.

It is this ignorance that fuels marketing stripping to white, middle-class women. I am not a class warrior, by any stretch of anybody's imagination, but this is so obvious in its attempt and so potentially harmful in its purpose that one would have to be blind to not notice some simple facts. Wealthy, educated, privileged women don't take off their clothes for strangers. Poor, uneducated, hungry, lower-class, and quite often women of colour, do. Yet the established beauty standard is a white blond woman. It is no wonder that men are seeking to enhance the scope of women pushed into the sexploitation class. They read Playboy and then wonder why they don't see that at their local strip club, and demand it. Hence Playboy being mass-marketed and sold in the Wish Book next to kids' stuff. Hence Carmen Electra and her Strip-Aerobics videos. Hence stripper poles you can install in your own bedroom.

The "democratization" of prostitution has made it something to be desired by a woman with recourse to education and a decent wage-paying job. It is no doubt insulting and humiliating for many women who are utterly trapped in the prostitution industry to know that university graduates "want" to take their clothes off in front of an audience (or, in some cases, would, "if only [they] had the body")--not because they fear losing out on money, but because these middle-class women think it's something fun, sexy, and empowering to do. For women trapped in prostitution, it is not a fantasy or some facade, it is a vicious, hurtful, and trauma-inducing existence. I have heard far too many women who should know better say that they would love to go and strip. They can have their illusion, go out, drop their attire, and them go home. For far too many women, that simple escapism is not an option. The "fantasy" of the middle-class wannabe-stripper is the perpetuation of the ongoing humiliation and oppression of the real woman who has to take off her clothes to make the 20 bucks she needs to survive for another miserable week.

I do not blame women for this failure of empathy, this enthusiasm to live out a male fantasy, this twisted sense of what is "empowering," this bizarre desire to attain all the illusory glamour of stripping while avoiding the far-too-painful reality. The daily onslaught of images, movies, words, and and any other medium is overwhelming, and emanates largely from the men that control them. It is taken as natural for men to hire a stripper or two for a bachelor party, for a group of guys to spend their Friday evening at the strip club, and there's not a consistent prevailing message from the media that says that these activities result in harm to women. They're presented as glorious, fun, wonderful, and of course, empowering, with no mainstream media outlets raising a red flag or serious opposition. It is also, of course, male demand for women to be readily available to them that fuels this prostitution. Demand is not created by supply. The simple existence of a woman does not create the demand for her to be naked; it is the male demand for women to be naked that creates the existence of strippers and prostituted women.

So, in the end, it comes down to a need for men to adjust their attitudes and demand change. Individual men can influence those around them by telling them about the harm caused by stripping and prostitution. Those men who believe that they have a right to have sex with any woman, or that women should become strippers, are not beyond redemption, but they must be confronted on their misogyny or else their practice will continue unabated.

06 September 2007

A Revived Agenda?

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his intention to prorogue Parliament until mid-October. In addition to the Opposition's blathering that "several important bills will die" on the Order Paper, this gives the PM the opportunity to present a new Speech From the Throne and commence a new drive towards the next election--be it in October 2009 or sooner.
This is a very intelligent move on Harper's part. For the last several months of the 1st session under his stewardship, it appeared as though the government had no future plans beyond moving to complete its five-point program announced in the election campagin. Parliament drifted and sputtered towards the summer recess, and the Liberals were able to make some hay out of a government that was presenting no plan on Afghanistan, interprovincial relations, or any other issue that threatened to derail Harper. Much of this hay is of the cheap variety, and not likely to remain vital in an actual campaign, but it did ding--somewhat--Harper's image as being firmly in control of the situation.
With a new Speech From the Throne, Harper will be permitted to introduce a revised and current agenda for the government. It will almost certainly include Afghanistan as a major plank of the government's policy agenda. With Peter Mackay now at the helm at DND and with Maxime Bernier heading up Foreign Affairs, there is a renewed opportunity to make a clear, strong, and articulate case for Canada remaining in Afghanistan beyond the current mission in Kandahar's deadline of February 2009. The Opposition has been able to batter Harper over Afghanistan all summer, insisting upon more debates, serving notice to NATO regarding our intentions, and getting Canadian Forces personnel out of the most dangerous region of Afghanistan and letting our allies share more of the burden instead of remaining comfortably in their bases when night falls. I have severe doubts that Harper will be able to achieve the "consensus" that he seeks from Parliament to extend Canada's participation in Afghanistan's reconstruction and stabilization, but he may be able to eke out a different type of mission there in a more pacified region. What the consequences will be Kandahar and a potential Taliban resurgence there, we'll have to make sure to ask of our parliamentarians who want Canada out of that country.
Beyond Afghanistan, there's a lot of room to maneuver on a number of issues that matter to Canadians. No party has yet been able to claim a legitimate monopoly on the environmental file. Looking at health care in the 21st century has been less central to political discourse than it was throughout the 1990s. Post-secondary education is a political football that can be kicked around to attract younger voters. The economy is in good shape, will there be a push to further bolster Canada's international standing by signing some new free trade pacts? Perhaps a beginning of a campaign to get Canada back on the UN Security Council? Will there be some real initiative and imagination demonstrated regarding new international organizations, the push for gender equality to make up for the horrible public relations fiasco early in Harper's term, and raising Canadians' standard of living?
Of course, presenting a Speech From the Throne also gives the Opposition the opportunity to bring down the government and force an election. I can't see that being in the interests of any of the three parties, the Canadian people, or the government. Dion has shown some bluster and hinted that he may try to pull the plug--why I don't know, since he's even faltering on the only pillar of his "three pillars" strategy. If the government showed signs of a lack of direction, the Liberals, Bloc, and NDP have been even worse. They've been highly critical of whatever offerings the government has made, sure, but they've not offered up a single alternative that has captured the imaginations of Canadians (a truly daunting task!) to shift public opinion in their court.
One thing is for sure: with the return of Parliament return also the talk shows, the pundits, the op-eds, and of course the speculation of an upcoming election. As a political junkie, this is my lifeblood, and I'm very happy to see that the forthcoming session offers considerable opportunity for all parties to make a significant mark.

02 September 2007

"Gray Rape" Theory = Bunk

A number of venues around the Internet have commented on an article in the latest issue of Cosmo magazine that puts forward the idea of "gray rape," which are supposedly situations in which the existence of consent can be contested and thus women are not entirely sure whether or not their rape was, in fact, a rape at all. Feministing and a poster at the White Ribbon Campaign blog are but two excellent places to visit that thoroughly expose this concept as ridiculous and hurtful.

Longtime readers will recall a list that I posted last year that very accurately points out the various scenarios that are rapes. Due to the severe importance of this topic, I will re-post that list in full:

A lot has been said about how to prevent rape. Women should learn self-defense. Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark. Women shouldn't have long hair and women shouldn't wear short skirts. Women shouldn't leave drinks unattended. Hell, they shouldn't dare to get drunk at all. Instead of that bullshit, how about:
If a woman is drunk, don't rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her.
If a woman is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don't rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don't rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don't rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don't rape her.If you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her.
If your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that he's not your friend.
If your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an unconscious woman upstairs and it's your turn, don't rape her, call the police and tell the guy he's a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it's not okay to rape someone.
Don't tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x.
Don't imply that it's in any way her fault.
Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl.
Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.

I've taken the liberty to bold out some of the extra-key ones here, just to emphasize how much garbage is the idea that there is a "gray zone" separating consensual sex and rape. I would also like to point out that the situation provided always concludes with "don't rape her" and not "don't have sex with her." There's a reason for that. When any one or more of this set of circumstances arises, consent is not given. Indeed, in the second scenario that I bolded, consent is actually withdrawn. The Cosmo article points out exactly that type of scenario and the story of a confused woman the morning after who was not sure whether or not she was raped, and makes no effort to affirm that she was indeed raped.

This all begins with the assumption by some men that women's default position on consent is "yes." For many of these men, this assumption arises from their consumption of pornography, in which women are portrayed as always willing, always submissive, always desirous of doing whatever vile act men may wish to perpetrate upon them. The inability to rationalize that not all women want to have sex with all men at any time, and more specifically, that any individual woman does not want to have sex with any individual man is an insidious failure on the part of many men that will often result in them raping a woman. The need to impose and imprint in men's minds the reality, that consent is not automatic and not default, that it is only when a woman says "yes"--the first time!--in an environment in which she has a legitimate ability to make a truly free choice, is sex consensual. Anything less than that standard should be perceived and portrayed as rape, because that is what it is. Pestering a drunk girl for two hours to have sex, and receving her ultimate concession, is still rape, because: a) she is intoxicated and her ability to rationalize and make her own judgment called is limited, and b) consent was withheld for 119 minutes, only being given after being worn down and in combination with a). That, by any sensible standard, should be viewed as rape.

Thus, not only is "yes" assumed to be the default position for all women, so too does a single "yes" override any number of "no's." This, to any reasonable person, is not logical, and should not be indicative of legitimate consent. Allow me to go to an extreme scenario: if I'm being held captive in a dark room, imprisoned and subjected to mental and psychological abuse, and I've said no to the question "Can we cut your arm off?" 149 times, does my relenting to this trauma on the 150th posing of the question truly mean that I consent to having my arm cut off? I should surely think not. That is not a gray area, is it?

In sum, Cosmo, as it does in so many other fields of women's lives, truly has failed women with this article. It leaves them with a considerable impression that there are some scenarios where their "no" doesn't count and that their failure to say "no" doesn't count as withholding consent. It is perpetuating an illegitimate and unjust status quo in which rape is not only tolerated in our culture, but accepted. For a magazine that purports to "empower" women, Cosmo's "gray rape" theory is yet another imposition of male-dominated harmful ideology that prevents women from reaching their maximum potential while giving men an out card from accepting responsibility for their causal role in rape.

01 September 2007

Patting Themselves on the Back...

...for doing exactly what they're supposed to do and living up to the minimum standard of behaviour. That is the sentiment I get when I read this story about a Senator funding a $10,000 award for the "most honourable MP." There was, I'm sure, a time when MPs would have found the notion of handing out cash on the grounds of doing your job with a modicum of decency and civility, with only the public good in mind, to be something bizarre. Harry Truman would have scoffed at the idea of somebody wanting to line his pockets because he did his best to serve his country--and make no mistake, Senator Harry Truman would have won that award in the US every year.
However, in this era of gutter politics, one of their own has decided to reward the least-scuzzy politician. Nothing beats a friendly pat on the back from the unelected portion of the old boys' club, after all. If there was a behaviour report card for MPs, we would demand that everybody earned an A. With this purely arbitrary system, the one that at least strives to receive a B in a sea of Cs, Ds, and Fs (because let's face it, they'll be content to do the bare minimum) will be hailed as some sort of angelic presence in Ottawa, one that everybody should strive to be. There should be no need for a stupid reward such as this.