Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is America ready for a Woman President?

This Sex and the City spoof has the answer...

Monday, October 29, 2007

In the news: Argentina's First Lady is elected as President

Next December, former lawyer Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will make the transition from being Argentina's First Lady to being the country's first female President since Isabel Peron.

Aged 54, Ms. Fernandez defeated her opponent, Elisa Carrio, also a lawyer, by 10%.

Although there is quite a buzz in the media right now about female heads of state all over the world, it's always disappointing to notice that the media can't seem to be able to resist commenting about their appearance, style and behaviour instead of their personal background, beliefs and ideas.

This is really fucked up...

... not to mention incredibly disturbing.

What more is there to say? Besides the fact that it's hateful and creepy? That it makes you want to kill the guy in the picture, the genius who came up with this brilliant concept, and every person on this earth who considers this funny and/or socially harmless?

More about creepy commercial uses of dismemberments of the female body here and here.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Bouchard-Taylor Commission on Accommodation Practices: When racism and misogyny go hand in hand...

It's no secret that the Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d'accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles (aka la Commission Bouchard-Taylor) is nothing but a gross, useless and costly farce, which, instead of fostering genuine and thorough consultation of the Québec population and meaningful debate, serves as a soap box on which xenophobic urbanites and hateful small-town folks alike can bash "immigrants" and "foreigners" (i.e. those among us who are not White, Catholic and French-speaking) in total impunity.

I must acknowledge that, hopefully, a few reasonable people have also taken the stand, either to denounce the ridiculousness of it all, the incompetence and arrogance of the Commissioners, and the ignorance and hypocrisy underlying extremist point of views, or to express their support for a liberal, secular, egalitarian, feminist and culturally inclusive society.

On the other hand, I was quite surprised by the number of people who took the stand to say that they missed the good old days when the Catholic Church effectively ruled la Belle Province. In other words, those people only want a secular state as long as other religions are concerned; and if it were up to them, they would reinstate Catholicism as Québec's official religion.

For instance, Jean Tremblay, mayor of Saguenay, went to the Commission to read out a mémoire in which he argued that the Québec government should consult the Catholic Church before making any decision having to do with "moral matters", and that abortion is murder and should be legally considered as such.

(Subsequently, Mayor Tremblay was publicly criticized by city councillors for presenting his personal opinion as the official position of the municipal council. Many citizens also asked for his resignation, because of his extreme religious views.)

Another trend among the intervenors at the Commission was to blame - uh hum... guess who's to blame again? - Québec women for the so-called "accommodation problems". Basically, the reasoning is as follows:
  • Québec women selfishly work and have a life of their own instead of making babies by the dozen;
  • Québec's birthrate has plummeted for the few past decades;
  • Québec has allegedly been welcoming more immigrants lately to compensate for the gap that this lower birthrate has created in the workforce;
  • immigrants are more noticeable these days because there are much more of them than before;
  • since immigrants, who are not necessarily White, Catholic and French-speaking, have formed new minority communities all over Québec, the Québecois majority naturally feels threatened by them (not to mention ripped of its oppressed minority victim ideology);
  • thus, if Québec women had more babies of their own, that is, good, Catholic, White and French-speaking babies, we would not need that many immigrants around.
Consequently, many people have suggested before the Commission - on national TV - that the Québec government implement new measures in order to boost the birthrate of its Québécois citizens.

If you've thought of tax credits for new families, better parental leave policies, or a better and cheap daycare and education system, you're wrong.

The good answer was: strip everybody of their right to vote. Then redistribute it only to Québecois who have married an procreated. (Oh, and the more babies you have, the more votes you get to cast...)

Seriously. I'm not making this up. Watch the Commission's tour and see for yourself.

Or not. It gets really depressing with time...

Why the US need to change the legal definition of "consent" to sexual activity

The Georgia Supreme Court recently declared that a sentence of 10 years' imprisonment for sexual assault on a child was unconstitutional, as it was so harsh as to amount to "cruel and unusual punishment".

This case has received more than its share of publicity over the past few months.

The accused in this case was Genarlow Wilson, aged 17 at the time of the events. Mr. Wilson and a few of (adult) friends of his were having a New Year's Eve party in a motel room. They had invited over a number of underaged girls, including the victim, who was then 15 years old. It was reported that the lot had consumed more than their fair share of booze and drugs.

The girls were then sollicited to perform various sex acts on many of the young men present, while their buddies would film the scene. A video showed Mr. Wilson receiving oral sex from the 15 year old girl, so there was no debate about whether or not the sexual activity happened . (Oh, and apparently, the accused subsequently bragged about what had happened at the party at school.)

The video also showed Mr. Wilson having sex on a bathroom floor with another girl, who looked sleepy and was visibly seriously intoxicated at the time. On the video, she did not ask Mr. Wilson to stop (but then again, the video didn't show any verbal interaction between the two.) The 17 year-old girl, who had waken up naked and confused the next morning, immediately reported the events to the police, and claimed that she had been raped.

Eventually, Mr. Wilson was charged with aggravated child molestation, found guilty and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. Now, the big debate in the media was about the fact that this offence, in its legal definition, did not take into account the fact that the 15 year-old victim was "consenting", that the victim and the accused were so close in age, that it was "just" a fellatio, and that the accused was a promising athlete and a "good boy".

(The State of Georgia, subsequent to the outcome of this case, changed the formulation of the offence so as to take the victim's "consent" into account.)

I have a few issues with the media treatment of this case, and with the recent quashing of Mr. Wilson's sentence.

First, I would just like to clarify that, although I agree with the Conservatives' proposition that the age of consent to sexual contact with adults be raised from 14 to 16, I also think it's stupid to seek to criminalize sexual contacts among (consenting) teenagers. Let's face it: when you're 16, horny and a just typically rebellious, you're gonna have sex if you want to, whether your parents, the local clergyman, your teachers or the law say otherwise.

However, sexual contacts, even among teenagers, must always be consensual.

Secondly, some people seem to be labouring under the delusion that when there's no penetration, when it's "just" a fellatio, it's really not that bad, and the situation should not give rise to criminal charges. Well, if that's your opinion, you're wrong. If you can't understand why having some drunken guy's cock shoved down your throat is morally wrong enough to be criminalized, then quit reading now.

Thirdly, it's no secret that most American jurisdictions have fucked-up definitions of what constitutes "consent" to sexual activity. While the notion of "consent" colloquially refers to something that a person genuinely wants, or to a free and enlightened decision (such as in health or contractual matters, for instance), "consent" to sexual activity in most American criminal statutes (as well as under the old, i.e. pre-1985, version of our own Criminal Code) is equated to passivity, lack of resistance, and the absence of the use (additional) physical force or the threat thereof.

This way of thinking is stupid and unrealistic. Basically, it means that unless you're beaten or threatened and you attempt to (physically) resist the assault, you will be deemed to have consented to having sex inflicted upon you. It completely disregards the fact that, as in this case, a person will not protest or resist because she is smaller than her assailants, outnumbered, confined, scared, or intoxicated. In situations such as those involved in the Wilson case, most females would not be foolish enough to think they can simply walk away or refuse to perform the acts, so that most criminally-inclined males would not have to resort to additional physical violence anyways.

St. Maria Goretti might have become a saint for choosing the opposite route, but most women do not envy her fate.

(Why to I keep saying "additional" physical violence? Um... It might have to do with the fact that having someone madly thrust inside you against your will is already violent and painful enough in and of itself.)

In my opinion, even if Mr. Wilson had been charged under the new version of the offence and that the victim's consent had been part of the equation, he might as well have been found guilty anyways, because it's very likely that the young woman's consent was viciated by the coercitive nature of the circustances.

Finally, even if the prosecution had not been able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Wilson's 15 year-old victim had given her free and enlightened consent, he and his buddies should still have been convicted for production, distribution and possession of child pornography.

I say 10 years' imprisonment was not too harsh. It sounds just right to me.

Super cute irrelevant picture of the day

Monday, October 22, 2007

Feminist activism on screen

Apparently, there's this new film coming out soon South of the border, called Itty Bitty Titty Committee, about a group of teenaged lesbian feminist activists.

It sounds quite fun and interesting, compared to your average teen movie. However, I can't find any information its eventual release date in Canada...

What every girl should know...

Sing along and laugh...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Masculinism 101

Go read this hilarious (but to-the-point) FAQ about "men's rights activism", i.e. the delusion that White, Christian, males are an endangered species in North America.

Feminism 101 (Wacky Conservative Edition)

A few fun facts about feminism, brought to you by the good editors at Conservapedia:

Did you know?

"Feminism is originally an acknowledged medical condition where men take on female physical characteristics."

Distinguishing feminism as it is nowadays from its Suffragette debuts:

"This was at a time when neither men nor women could vote unless they owned property."

Paraphrasing the famous phrase "pornography is the theory, rape is the practice":

"Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice."

And last but not least, my all-time favourite:

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."


Conservapedia was created as a response to Wikipedia which was apparently criticized in conservative circles for its "liberal" bias, which is evidence by such horrific practices as:
  • Featuring an entry on Richard Dawkins;
  • Featuring entries on legal cases favourable to gay rights;
  • Featuring "nearly irrelevant information", such as the fact that the president of Harvard University had to resign because of his comments on the abilities of women at math and science;
  • "Supporting" abortion and gun control;
  • Featuring articles about punk music;
  • "Promoting" suicide (the "pro-life" folks at Conservapedia assure us that they don't have a single entry on this "depravity";
  • Criticizing Fox News;
  • "Wikpedia's (sic) entry on liberal former Vice President Al Gore contains no mention of the drug charges against his son" (don't be fooled: this is absolutely relevant);
  • A survey of Wikipedia editors show that they identify as liberal six times more than the average American public;
  • Not giving Jesus any credit for the Renaissance;
  • Featuring pictures of naked people or body partws;
  • Using British (or Canadian, for that matter!) idioms and spellings...


Just to give you a glimpse of how outrageously liberal Wikipedia is, let's compare both Websites' entries on "women."

Conservapedia's article about women starts as follows: "Women are the female of the human species, with the biological role of bearing offspring (pregnancy and childbirth)."

It later (i.e. almost immediately) goes on to say that: "relatively few women have had impact on history as leaders in diverse fields". So, get it? Women are baby-making machines. They should not be distracted from their biological function by unnatural activities, such as, well, anything that has to do with public life.

Wikipedia, on the other hand, simply states, as an introduction, that "A woman is a female human." Simple, accurate, and it doesn't make you sound like your having a vagina makes you some kind of animal, sub-human form of life.


I fully acknowledge that Wikipedia is an easily corruptible source of information. But at least it's not complete bullshit nor borderline hate-speech.


Hilarious video mocking "sexy" Halloween costumes for women...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Just the right amount of freedom

Have you heard the shocking news?

Cecilia Sarkozy is rumoured to be about to divorce her husband and President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.

But what signs are there of the imminent break up?

Well, apparently, she did not attend an official barbeque at the Bushes while she was vacationing in the U.S. AND she is apparently not planning to follow her husband to Morrocco next week. See?

You know, when a woman does not sheepishly follow her husband around like she's his lap dog, it's got to be because she wants to selfishly dump him like an old rag.

Not say, because she has a life of her own, and maybe she just doesn't care that much about politics and grilling steaks with George W. and Laura.


A reporter from Radio-Canada commented these "events" on this morning's news report, and noted that Ms. Sarkozy acted with a great deal of freedom, but that this "freedom" was not always approved of.

I think this reporter unwittingly made a very interesting point: the freedom enjoyed by women today is, to a certain extent, illusory, in the sense that our degree of freedom, and the matters in which this amount of freedom can be exercized still depends on the approval of our patriarchical society.

A woman is not completely free to have a life of her own and to attend to her own affairs if her husband's career is deemed to be more valuable than hers. On the other hand, women are "free" to become porn stars, or to "choose" to stay at home with the children instead of sending them to daycare...

One step forward, one step back...

On the one hand, a post on the omnipresence in pornography of degrading and violent behaviour.

On the other hand, a case digest titled "degrading and rude behaviour not necessarily sexual harassment."


So, if a judge says to a female defence lawyer, in open court, that she has a "nice butt", does that constitute sexual harassment? Or is it just "degrading and rude behaviour"?


On a related topic, here is an article discussing recent sexual harassment cases in the U.S. and arguing that the fact that the complainants won in those cases is attributable to a "change of climate" in the workplace, in that corporate milieus in the U.S. are becoming increasingly less tolerant towards such behaviour.

The article also includes a list of things you can do if you are sexually harassed in a professional setting.

This is a fine and thorough list, but when you're confronted with someone who physically threatens you, who touches you without your consent, who makes you feel like you're there for his personal (sexual) enjoyment, and when this person is a position of authority or power vis-à-vis you, such that you might lose your job or get dragged in the mud for complaining about the unwanted behaviour, it begs the question: to report or not to report?

As with many other things, it is easier said than done. Not that women lack reasons to come forward. But still... Having to balance the shame, embarrassment and personal risk to one's reputation, with the guilt that the perpetrator might strike again, and prey on another victim, is an unbearable exercise.


"See, I don't know what to do.

"I keep having fantasies about leaving her dictaphone under the pillow. Or following her when she goes to work.

"I've been lying about where I'm going, just in case I can bump into her..."

What would you do it was the case? What if your weren't sure it was so? Would you risk everything you have, everything you have become, for the (potentially remote) possibility that someone you don't know might suffer the same fate?


In a class discussion on the difficulties created by our legal system that deterred women from reporting sexual assault (among others, the fact that in many circumstances, evidence of a complainant's sexual history will be considered relevant in court, which allows for the victim to be cross-examined on her past sexual behaviour), one of my professors (an older man) boldly stated that reporting sexual assault did not depend on such legal hurdles, but rather on a victim's individual bravery.

He then went on to say that people in Iraq had gone out to vote, even though they were risking their lives in the process. He said that if the Iraqi people who had chosen to vote could be so brave, then why wouldn't sexual assault victims be able to come forward. After all, it is not, he said, as if their lives were at risk.

When I heard that comment, my heart sank. I felt as if he had just called one in four women in the classroom cowards.

Reporting is an individual decision. Not reporting is not an act of cowardice, but rather an attempt at self-preservation.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"The heart and stomach of a King..."

A new film on the life of Queen Elizabeth I, called Elizabeth: The Golden Age, was released today theaters today. Starring Cate Blanchett as the Virgin Queen, this "sequel" to the 1998 Elizabeth (with Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes) focuses on the struggles of the Queen with continental political powers (namely, Spain) and with her adversarial cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots.

Although the critics were disappointing so far (namely because of the numerous and egregious historical inaccuracies of the script), it is apparently as visually breathtaking as the first movie.

Even though this new movie will probably not be as accurate and beautifully rendered as the HBO mini-series on the same topic featuring Helen Mirren in the title role, I am definitely going to see it, just because Queen Elizabeth is such a fascinating historical figure - not to mention a savvy ruler and a groundbreaking woman.


I have just finished a great book titled Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens, by Jane Dunn. This book is a thoroughly researched and beautifully written comparative biography of Queen Elizabeth I and her cousin and contemporary, Mary, Queen of Scots. The lives of the two Queens are compared from the (politcal) circumstances of their birth, through their childhood, education and accession to the throne, up to their deadly rivalry and Mary's demise.

Among the main themes of this book, two strike me as being of a particular interest for the feminist reader. First, the author dissects at length Elizabeth's obstinate refusal to marry, and her desire to "keep her options open" by remaining single (which is quite an unusual feat for a 16th century woman and monarch).

Secondly, Dunn attribute the political success of Elizabeth and the political failures of Mary to gender expectations: while Mary was raised as a quiet and loveable princess at the French court, Elizabeth's childhood and education were more masculine, in the sense that she was raised primarily as an intellectual, almost asexual, person, and was taught from a very early age that political survival depends on such "manly" virtues as rationality, courage and occasional ruthlessness. Dunn also details Elizabeth's eagerness to show that a woman could be a dispassionate, just and successful monarch, and her lifelong struggle to show her court, her people, her enemies and the whole world, that, although she was physically a woman, she was, above all, a Queen.

Queen Elizabeth I, in her coronation robes

It's too late when you're dead...

A recent StatsCan study reports that "[t]he slaying of a spouse is often the first time authorities are notified of a domestic violence problem in a home".

Because domestic abusers are just "nice guys" after all, right?

This is so depressing... *sigh*

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How porn (and fashion) feeds paedophilic double standards

One of the sexist double standard I hate the most has to do with the practice of shaving one's pubic hair.

The porn, fashion and cosmetic surgery industries like to pretend that it's something natural, that all normal, reasonable and self-conscious women do. Women are constantly bombarded with images of hairless, child-like women.

We are told that having a hairy pubic area is abnormal and ugly. That a hairy vagina is unattractive to men, that it looks old and "unfresh".

The subtitle to these messages is clear, however. Adult, grown-up, full-fledge women are expected to look, as far as their genitals are concerned, as prepubescent girls.

In short, this "trend" is no less than the acceptation by our society of paedophilic sexual preferences, and the assertion that it is acceptable for men to be sexually attracted by the physical features of female children.


When it comes to men, however, this reality is not denied at all.

For instance, when the media reported that the infamous recidivist paedophile Peter Whitmore had forced one of his last victims, a 14 year-old boy, to shave his pubic hair, they did not deny that Whitmore's purpose was to make his victim look younger, like a prepubescent child.

Nobody had the nerves to suggest that the gesture was not paedophilic in itself, but that it was just a way for a non-paedophilic, garden-variety, relapse sexual offender to make his victim look more attractive, or "cleaner" to him.


Why then is it so hard to acknowledge that the same practice is as unhealthy when it comes to women?

You say you prefer women who are well "groomed" down there? I say fuck you, you paedophile.


"But is it a surprise that men who never thought they would do so end up using child pornography? 'Teen porn' Web sites, videos, and magazines abound, showcasing 'barely legal' young women, fully shaved of pubic hair, cavorting in schoolgirl outfits and pigtails. Many of the sites and films are voyeuristic, featuring peepholes intol girls' locker rooms and showers, slumber parties and schoolhouse toilet stalls. In sex scenes, these 'girls' are typically depicted having sex with much older men. And that's assuming the 'teens' are actually eighteen or nineteen years old.


"The supply exists to serve the demand. There's an illicit, voyeuristic pleasure to the enterprise. There is also a tinge of revenge.


"The gazer longs for what he could not have long ago and what he certainly cannot have - at least, legally - today. These girls may not actually be underage, and therefore no 'harm' was done to an actual child in creating the pornographic image. But the desire for a child and the desire for a childlike woman blur and overlap."

[Emphasis added]

- Pamela Paul, Pornified: How Pornography is Damaging our Lives, our Relationships, and our Families (New York: Owl Books, 2006), at 198-199.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


In 2006, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals answered 'no' to the question "If a female consents to sex initially, and, during the course of the sex act to which she consented, for whatever reason, she changes her mind, and the man continues until climax, does the result constitute rape?"

The incident at issue involved an 18 year-old woman who was taken by car, at night, to a secluded location by two vague male acquaintances (both aged 16 at the time). She was first raped by the other accused Wilson (who was eventually found guilty of rape) on the back seat of the car. The accused in this case, Baby, then asked his friend "Will you let me hit it?", referring to the young woman. He then told the victim that he "wouldn't want to rape her." (Baby admitted to making both utterances.) The victim then said "yes" to sexual intercourse with him, on the condition that he pull out if it hurt her (logically: upon her saying so).

Baby then proceeded to vaginally penetrating the woman, thrusting inside her. She then said 'no' and told him to stop, because it hurt. It was admitted in this case, that, at this point, the accused continued thrusting inside her for 10 seconds before he ejaculated and pulled out.

Although Baby was convicted of rape at trial and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, his conviction was overturned by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. The appeal judgment not only rejected the prosecution's argument that the circumstances (e.g. the victim having been raped for a first time moments before, the secluded location, the victim being outnumbered by her assailants, her subjective fear, Baby's veiled threat of additional physical violence) in themselves were coercitive enough to nullify the woman's "consent."

Relying on the Battle case, it went on to say that, when it comes to rape, common law tells us that it's really about the vindication of the loss of a woman's value, as a chattel, to her legal owner, that is to say, her father or husband.

(Uh hum... 'Rings a bell, anyone?)

Thus, the fact that a woman withdraws her consent to sexual intercourse once it has started is irrelevant to whether or not the intercourse amounts to rape, because beyond the initial penetration, once the woman has been deflowered, there is nothing more to lose, and therefore nothing to be further punished.

Pretty depressing, eh?

The good news is that this Middle-Ages ruling has been heard on appeal last week.

Let's just hope that the Court of Appeals will yield to 21st century concepts (such as "women are people too and have their say on the terms and conditions under which they engage in sexual activity") and restore Baby's conviction and sentence.

On the other hand, I'm disappointed that the prosecution's argument seems limited to the assertion that the intercourse constituted rape because "[y]ou clearly have the element of force, you have the resistance by the victim, the victim was quite clear that it was hurting, that she wanted him to stop."

By raising this argument, the prosecution emphasizes the importance of physical coercion and legitimize the requirement that the victim attempted to resist the rape, as legal markers for the victim's lack of consent, rather than focusing on what really matters in sexual assault cases, i.e. the victim's actual, subjective feelings towards the sexual activity.

Sexual assault, as defined under Maryland law, and as acknowledged by the prosecution's argument, is not about punishing the accused's disregard for another person's subjective preference about whether or not she wants to have sex. When the law defines a woman's consent to sexual activity as something else than her own subjective state of mind, for instance, by defining "consent" as lack of "adequate" (read: from a male point of view) resistance, or as passivity or submission, it obviously does not give a damn about whether or not the woman being penetrated is actually willing or not.

In that context, it does not even make sense to be talking about a woman's withdrawing her consent.

What I would have appreciated from the prosecution in the current Baby appeal is a genuine argument to the effect that women, as human beings, deserve the right to decide of the conditions under which they will engage in any type of sexual activity. Men do. (Obviously.) The right to the legal recognition of women's sexual agency is nothing short of a fundamental equality requirement.

For such recognition to be possible, the laws of Maryland must be amended so as to make the legality of sexual acts absolutely conditional to both partners' subjective consent. Therefore, the definition of "consent" as the absence of extrinsic physical violence, lack of sufficient physical resistance, submission, or passivity must be thrown out, and replaced by a notion of "actual consent", which consists of one's own subjective feelings.


The Baltimore Sun published an article about the Baby appeal. It's not really informative for those who are not already familiar with the case, given that it considerably distorts the facts of the case.

What is most disturbing though are the comments to the article. They reveal a shocking resistance to the idea that a woman has the right to withdraw her consent to sexual activity, and that doing so does not make her a whore or a liar, nor does it strip her of her rights to vindicate the attempt on her bodily integrity. They also provide a thorough - and disheartening - summary of rape myths and prejudices about women who file complains for sexual assault. (Including the suggestion that the victim is the one who should have been prosecuted for rape, given that she had "lure" two underaged males into sex.)

"Either you want it or you don't. If there is a question mark, say no up front. Or wait. After penetration, unless under violent circumstances, it is just not valid. Bad performance is not rapeor 3/4 of the population would be in jail. And not the providence of 16 year olds. Strangers, sex and liquor are a very poor combination."

"It is asking alot to even think of accusing someone of rape when you let him enter your body and get within five seconds of climax. By the way they should accuse her of raping him because he was 16 and she was 18."

"Anyone who says yes during sex is in a position where they must consent until it is over. Anyone who says yes then no has less sexual credibility. Those with little to no sexual credibility should be barred from the right to file rape charges period. There are real rapes, the West Virginia torture, a woman who is jumped and kidnapped by three men, and similar such situations where the real rapists need to be thrown into prison so that they themselves can be punished severly. Any case however involving a person who cannot make up their mind should automatically be thrown out because whats to stop them from filing a charge of rape over the decision that it was simply bad sex. Real rapes only in the courtroom, no drunks who said yes at one point during the intercourse and no one who engages in other such acts should be given the right to file charges. Rather they need to punish the accusors who go between yes and no during sex with perjury as they are filing false charges for something they allowed to happen."


Many people who commented the Baltimore Sun's article seem to share the view that once a man has penetrated a woman, especially if he is approaching climax, loses his capacity to acknowledge her demands that he stops and to pull out immediately. Such people also seem think that a delay of 10 seconds between the moment when a woman, who is being penetrated, says "no, stop, it hurts" and the moment when the man actually pulls out, is actually quite reasonable, and can be easily justified by the handy "getting-near-climax-has-become-unresponsive-jelly-of-lust-can't-hear-you-until-I-get-off" theory.

But it's not only retrograde, misogynistc jerks who adhere to this view. I have had a serious - and quite awkward - discussion about this issue (as it arises in a sexual assault context) with one of my professors, a brilliant mind and a kind man, who sincerely seem to think that sometimes, even 10 seconds are not enough.

In all fairness, being a woman, I obviously don't have a first hand experience of this, but I remain extremely sceptical about the "I-can't-hear-you-I'm-gonna-come" excuse.

What is certain though is that 10 seconds can seem like a lifetime in certain circumstances. Those who have been raped or sexually assaulted very well know this. (For those who have been lucky enough to have never experienced such a situation, here's a thought: paper sheets, an unknown OB-GYN and a metallic, cold speculum.)

10 seconds of unwanted sex certainly qualifies as full-fledged sexual assault.


Since the mid-80's, Canada has - in theory, as least - left the Middle-Ages of sexual assault legislation by (1) replacing the gendered offence of "rape" with the neutral one of "sexual assault", and (2) ditching the unrealistic "objective" notion of "consent" (which was similar, under the common law, to the notion of "consent" as it applies in Maryland) with a subjective view of consent that corresponds to the person's subjective state of mind at the relevant time.

Moreover, the Criminal Code now explicitly provides that there is no consent when someone's, having validly given it earlier on, chooses to withdraw it (s. 273.1(2)(e)).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Picture of the Day

Not the good kind of retro...

There's the good kind of retro (e.g. kitten heels, polka dots, cupcakes), and then there's the bad kind of retro.

Like, for instance, asking your girlfriend's father's permission to marry her.

Feministing gathered a couple of interesting pieces on what is apparently a (creepy) trend, including this gem, which explains the seven steps of asking a man for permission to buy/marry his daughter. (The editors highlight that "[a]sking [a father] permission to marry his daughter demonstrates your respect for her family and their feelings". It's quite telling that they don't mention the daughter's own feelings and preferences at all - not to mention the fact that women are not considered as chattels anymore...)

Here's another article by Ellie Levenson on the same topic, where she describes her surprise that her self-proclaimed feminist friends not only decide to tie the knot, but give in to retrograde practices such as having their hand asked in marriage.

"But I thought you didn't believe in marriage?" - I have spluttered, "Well, at least he didn't ask your dad for his permission!" In each case, I have expected my friends to laugh along, before being shocked by the mumbled admission that, yes, their boyfriend did ask their father, and, worse, they were very pleased he had.

*sigh* I acknowledge that, under certain circumstances and with certain people, it may sound like a sweet and tactful thing to do. However, it remains that this tradition is really about discussing an eventual exchange of wealth between two families, not about love and sincere family connections.

I really liked the conclusion of Levenson's article:

My dad is lovely. He is a kind, intelligent man, and I am sure we have the same outlook on most things. But the idea that he would have any say whatsoever in my major life decisions distresses me. I rang him for permission to quote him in this article. This aside, we couldn't remember me asking him permission for anything since I was about 14. "I would refuse permission to any bloke who is wimpish enough to feel he has to ask me," he says. "And if he took any notice of me I'd think even worse of him."

Now, that is a sweet thing to do!

Monday, October 8, 2007

The WTF highlight of the day

A European DVD rental company recently went under fire because a publicity campaign that involved a hoax "rent-a-wife" service, complete with disgusting TV ads (see below) and fake webpage.

The website was disabled following a court order, but the ads are still running on the Internet, from what I gather.

Just as if it wasn't already bad enough that some people seem to find the idea sex trafficking - and slavery in general - funny, you turn around and find - in your owbn backyard - the actual thing.

Rent-A-Wife Home Services is a Toronto-based compangy that offers cleaning, home repairs, decoration and "hospitality" services.

Honestly, I first thought it was a joke, or some kind of sarcastic hoax. But it's not. It's every bit of the contrary.

But, you'll wonder, just because one pretends to rent actual human beings for housework purposes and refers to its employees as "wives" is not necessarily a misogynistc insult, is it?

Hey, just hold your horses if you think that Rent-A-Wife is antifeminist. First of all, it's employees are gender-mixed; second, conjugal services are not supplied. This organization wants you to know that the whole point of the name is to legitimize work traditionally done by women in the home.

Uh hum... Let's see... So because you employ people of both genders and do not offer sexual services to clients for cash somehow prevents you from being considered sexist. Well, why not? It's not as if, say, the law obligated you to do the former and abstain from the latter, right?

And you've really got to love the "retrograde, patriarchical practices are acceptable and even post-feminist when women 'reappropriate' it" junk reasoning...

Then and Now...

Many of us - including myself - don't remember living in a world where abortion was outlawed.

Those days, when once you got pregnant, no matter in what circumstances you may have found yourself, you had to go through the hard path of forced pregnancy, labour, birthing and motherhood, were not that far behind us. In fact, for Canadian women, this dark period only dates back to before January 28th, 1988.

For those of us who were born - or, for some, conceived - before that date, it means that our mothers never had the choice to give birth to us. We are a generation of people to whom, when we were teenagers and yelled at our moms that we have never asked to be born, they could have fairly replied that they, too, have never ask to get pregnant and become a mother.

But still, how come is it that many women - and men! - of our generation don't seem to care much about the protection of reproductive rights, and despite the recent rise of the political (i.e. religious) right are not willing to show much interest - let alone support - in the defense of Canadian women's constitutional freedom to choose and right to sexual liberty?


On January 28th, 2008, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada. If you want to share ideas about what to do, or just get in touch with other people who want to mark this special day, please go to 28janvier2008 or write to


In the mean time, please check out the CBC/SRC archives where you'll find audio and video clips from the 80's on the dangers of illegal, back-alley abortions in Canada (remember Canada, "le plus meilleur pays du monde"?), Dr. Henry Morgentaler's work in helping women in need and challenging Canada's abortion laws and anti-choice violence in Canada.

And if you find yourself in Montréal on October 26th, go see Four months, three weeks, 2 days, a film about a young woman trying to obtain an illegal abortion in 1987 Romania. This film won the Palme d'Or at the 2007 Festival du film de Cannes.

(Here's the trailer.)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Uteri can be cute!

And cuddly. And fashionable.

Well, that's what some people seem to think. I might not actually want to wear some of that stuff, but I certainly acknowledge the effort to make our wombs more loveable.

Knitted womb (pattern by Knitty)

Uteri stuffed toys

Check out this link for more - cute!- uteri-related fashion...
Some people, on the other hand, apparently hate our guts - literally. Or they at least seem to think that "uterus" is a dirty word... *sigh*