Friday, November 30, 2007

Indoctrination from the crib!

La Presse, on how to pick an appropriate Christmas present for a girl aged 0 to 4 years old:

Les fillettes apprécient en général les items féminins et empruntés à la mode pour adultes, comme le boléro, le poncho, la jupe paysanne et la minijupe plissée. La collection Oiseaux d'amour de Souris Mini propose des vêtements chics et coquets tels que des jupes de laine bouillie, la blouse-boléro et son pantalon à frisons assortis. Les fillettes adoreront aussi les collants et les accessoires.

I'm sure girls as young as this really do prefer "feminine grown-up fashion." Yeah, right. I'm sure they do.

(As opposed to, say, capitalism and patriarchy.)



I guess I just never really understood the social pressure to clearly identify the gender of infants and very young children, by dressing them up in stereotyped uniforms.

Baby boy in a baby blue outfit with boats and cars... Baby girl in a light pink ensemble with lace/fur/frizzy stuff, with kittens, shoes, little purses and whatnot...

Is it just easier for people to interact with other human beings who are so categorized and identified, when there are clear assumptions about how people who belong to a given category are expected to behave?

If, at that age, it's impossible to tell apart a boy from a girl, but for the way they're dress or the length of their hair, why bother dressing them differently? The only plausible answer to this question is: so as to make sure that people will treat them differently.

Different "but equal," of course.


Click here to read a very good post by a feminist mother-to-be, who's trying to sort this all out.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ode to creepy men in lingerie stores

Let's face it: our collective lingerie/pyjama shopping experience would not be complete without them...


A man was paying his purchase, a pink peignoir, and asked the (female) clerk to gift wrap it. He then notice a Christmas lingerie catalogue on the counter, and asked the clerk that she put one inside the folded garnment. (Quite a classy way to drop a hint, don't you think?)

A really interesting thing is that the man made the following lapsus: he asked for a calendar instead of a catalogue.

(At this point, you start to see a clearer picture of the type of man in question.)

He then went on rambling about the Christmas decorations in the store, pointing how appropriate it was to decorate a lingerie store with "plein de belles boules." He also found wise to add: "moi j'aime ben ça, des petites boules."

Then, nodding towards a table covered with panties, the man said to the clerk: "There are a lot of things in here that would suit you well."

She kind of smiled back at him, with a noticeably annoyed look in her eyes.



Lingerie saleswoman #1 to lingerie saleswoman #2: "I used to work at La Senza on Ste-Catherine, but I couldn't stand the drunken men who would come into the store just to touch the clothes and the mannequins, and harass the female personnel."

(I find it really sad to think that we live a society where some men seem incapable to distinguish between an underwear store and a sex shop/strip club/porn booth.)

Violent Porn: Now in a Lingerie Store Near You

The British lingerie retailer Agent Provocateur has recently opened a store in Vancouver, and is apparently planning to open new locations in Toronto and Montréal.
Well, this can only mean one thing, ladies: Get your torches and pitchforks ready.

But what, you might be wondering is so wrong about Agent Provocateur? Or is it just me, you know, the no-fun anti-sex, ever-frustrated feminist?

If you don't know the company yet, let's just say that it sells very expensive (i.e. between $140 and $160 for bras, and between $70 and $90 for thongs and panties) "exotic" lingerie. And by "exotic", we're talking porn/escort services-grade underwear.

Like, for instance, bras with no cups that expose the breasts, nipple pasties and tassles, and the like.

You know, the kind of delicate and impossibly uncomfortable stuff that are not made to be worn all day by real women, and that are solely designed to be put on shortly before coming into the bedroom, only to be removed and thrown on the floor by one's drooling partner seconds after.


(Side note: Do men really know the difference anyway between average female underwear and the really expensive kind? That is, when they're not buying it as "presents" for their girlfriends?)


I know, I know... Isn't that just precisely what the business of any lingerie retailer consists of?

Maybe it is, although it's not my personal opinion. But in any case, what differentiates Agent Provocateur from other lingerie brands is its absolutely disgusting attitude towards women.

First, it uses porn as a form of publicity. If you go on their website (at your own risks - it might trigger very upsetting feelings), the first thing you'll see is three naked females bathing together and lascively posing for the camera. If you enter the website and actually check out the products, you'll notice that they can't just show you the picture of a bra, or even the picture of a fashion model wearing said bra. No, Ma'am. Every single product is displayed via pictures of models shot in soft porn postures or attitudes.

As a woman, I find the suggestion that I can't distinguish between bona fide lingerie advertisements and gratuituous online porn incredibly insulting.

The further you go, the worst it gets. The misogyny is extreme, and its everywhere. On the website, you'll find shoes that will suit you from the "boardroom to the bedroom" (seriously: WTF?!?) and, in the "jewellery" section, you'll find that the only proposed item is a metallic dog collar, complete with a fancy leash and matching (optional) handcuffs. There's even a blindfold with the phrase "Treat me like the whore that I am" written across it.

Classy, I know.


As a matter of fact, violent sex and sexual domination/submission seem to be a recurrent theme in the Agent Provocateur imagery. The website namely features "Adventures", i.e. pornographic stories illustrated by pictures and videos, in which L.A. debutantes and 1920's French maids are confined, exploited (in terms of the work they do and in terms of the sex acts they have to perform), disciplined and "taught" to "enjoy" sex.

Yuck. (And this is just a mild one, from the few that I've seen. Yet, it sends a chill down my spine.)

My point is not to make an argument against "rough" sex, certain types of fantasies or erotic scenarios, or even S&M practices.

I just don't like sexual violence against women and the sexual exploitation of women being used in a pornographic manner as part of an advertisement.

Even though there's not a hint of penetration of any kind, and that Agent Provocateur's pornographic advertisements are - mostly - confined to (fake*) lesbian sex, it's not just "soft" porn to me. It's violent and degrading porn, where women are humiliated, hurt, thrown to the ground, and whipped like beasts.

To a certain extent, I can tolerate the ambient sexism and misogyny of our culture, for the simple reason that otherwise, I'd probably shoot myself. But I can't tolerate the mere suggestion that violence against women generally is acceptable, and that sexual violence in particular can be branded as sexy for base mercantile purposes, turned into incredibly violent and degrading - yet easily available - porn and marketed towards women as "luxury" or "empowerment."

For these reasons, I will boycott the Agent Provocateur brand, and will protest by all means (legally) available to me the opening of a Montréal location.


* Fake as in "not just some guy's wacky patriarchical, sexist, androcentric view of lesbian sex..."

"Reasonable Accommodation: A Feminist Response"

A statement from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia University, challenging the moral legitimacy of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission:

As anti-racist, anti-colonial, feminists in Québec, we have serious misgivings about the Commission de Consultation sur les pratiques d'accommodement reliées aux différences culturelles. The Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec (CSF) has proposed that the Québec Charter be changed so as to accord the right of gender equality relative priority over the right to religious expression and to ban the wearing of "ostentatious" religious symbols in public institutions by public employees. Our concern is that the Commission and the CSF's subsequent intervention pave the way for legislation that will restrict rather than enhance the rights of women. We invite you to join us in questioning the exclusionary structure of the Commission, the assumptions it supports, and the negative impact it is likely to have on women's lives.

So, why call into question the legitimacy and the effects of the Commission?

1. because although we see the urgent need for dialogue about racism and sexism in Québec society, we object to how this consultation process has been undertaken. Listening to people "air out" their racism is not conducive to promoting critical reflection and dialogue, but instead creates a climate of fear-mongering and moral panic. Furthermore, in asking whether or not "difference" and "minorities" should be accommodated the commission assumes and perpetuates "commonsense" racist understandings of some "cultures" as homogeneous, backward and inferior. In addition, the Commission's reliance on the notion of "reason" must also be critically examined. Historically, white men have been positioned as the exclusive bearers of reason, and the Commission runs the risk of reproducing this in a context of ongoing social inequality.

2. because the design of the Commission and the language of "accommodation" assumes and perpetuates a system of power whereby western "hosts" act as gatekeepers for non-western "guests." A better consultative process would start with the recognition that Canada is a white-settler state, and that its history is one of colonial and patriarchal violence against Indigenous people.

3. because the public debates that the Commission has sparked construct certain ethno-cultural communities as perpetual outsiders and as threats to Québec identity rather than as integral to it. Concerns about ethno-cultural others as socially regressive obscure the everyday homophobia, sexism and racism that pervade Québec society.

4. because the ways that the Commission has been represented in mainstream English media promotes the idea that racism is a feature exclusive to Québec society and is not a problem -- or is less of a problem -- in the rest of Canada.

5. because the preoccupation with veiled women serves to deflect from the sexism and racism that has historically pervaded Québec and Canadian society. As feminists, we must challenge our complicity with the state's violence against women both in its colonial relations with Indigenous people and in its use of the figure of the veiled woman as an alibi for imperialist war and occupation in Afghanistan.

6. because appeals to secularism as a guarantor of gender equality effectively function to promote Christian culture as the norm and to scapegoat Muslims as inherently sexist, erasing secular forms of sexism.

7. because although it is still underway, the Commission has already prompted the proposal of laws that could restrict, regulate, and otherwise impede the lives of immigrant and racialized people in Québec.

8. because regulating women's public religious expression is gender discrimination insofar as it takes away women's freedom and inhibits their civic participation.

9. because the CSF is failing to meet its mandate of "defending the interests of women." The CSF would better serve the interests of women in Québec by focusing on the conditions of poverty, violence, criminalization and racism that many of us face, and not on what women wear.

Signed: The Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, November 2007


Please go to the Institute's website (above) to read the full version of the statement.

To personally endorse this statement, kindly write to:


For another view on the matter, please go to Little Miss Brightside's blog.

Former Chief Justice of Canada dies

(The late Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, C.J.C.)

The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, died last Saturday.

The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, formerly a justice and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, passed away in Ottawa on November 24, 2007 after a prolonged illness. Born in Montreal, Quebec, Chief Justice Lamer served in the Royal Canadian Artillery and in the Canadian Intelligence Corps. In 1956, he graduated in law from the Université de Montréal. The following year, he was called to the Bar of Quebec. He practised law at the firm of Cutler, Lamer, Bellemare and Associates and was a full professor in the Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal. In 1969, Chief Justice Lamer was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court. In 1978, he was elevated to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1980, Antonio Lamer was named the 16th Chief Justice of Canada in 1990. He retired from the Court in 2000.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, on behalf of the members of the Supreme Court of Canada, mourned Chief Justice Lamer's passing, "Antonio Lamer was an eminent jurist, and a fierce defender of the independence of the judiciary. He served as a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and as Chief Justice of Canada during an important period of Canadian history. He was a forceful advocate for the rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. His decisions left an indelible mark on both the law and Canadian society. His presence and passion for the law will be sorely missed. Members and employees of the Court extend their deepest condolences to Chief Justice Lamer's wife, the Honourable Danièle Tremblay-Lamer, and his family."

Former Chief Justice Antonio Lamer will lie in repose in the Grand Hall of the Supreme Court of Canada on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the public to pay their respects.

A religious ceremony will be held at the Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral in Montreal on Friday, November 30, 2007 at 1:00 p.m. The family will receive visitors from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 29, 2007, and from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, November 30, 2007, at the Centre funéraire Côte-des-Neiges, 4525 Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges, in Montreal.

A private memorial ceremony by invitation only will be held at the Supreme Court of Canada on Monday, December 3, 2007 at 3:00 p.m.


One of my all-time favourite quotes from Lamer C.J.C.:

"[I]n my view the issue of mistaken belief in consent should also be submitted to the jury in all cases where the accused testifies attrial that the complainant consented. The accused's testimony that the complainant consented must be taken to mean that he believed that the complainant consented."

[Emphasis added.]

R. v. Bulmer, [1987] 1 S.C.R. 782, at par. 24.


For more information on Lamer C.J.C.'s life and legacy:

- Official SCC bio;
- Wikipedia bio.

Meanwhile, in France...

A recent French study showed that only 8% of victims of domestic violence eventually complain to the authorities.

In reaction to this finding, French lawmakers enacted new measures to curb domestic violence and encourage women to report it to the police.

But guess what? They're totally useless...

As a matter of fact, some genius came up with this great idea: when a woman report an incident of domestic violence to the police, the perpetrator is given the choice between being prosecuted before a criminal court, or attending 10 hours of conjugal therapy.

*rolls eyes in disbelief*

There's no way such measures can curb domestic violence, when it doesn't even address its genuine roots, and when it's being dismissed as a conjugal and private matter...

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

Yesterday, November 25th, marked the beginning of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. During this period, organizations and individuals are encouraged to speak up against gender violence, to reflect on the causes of this problem and to propose solutions.

A 16 Days "action kit" is available online here. You can also wear the traditional white ribbon as a sign of support for this cause, and as a sign of remembrance for the victims of the École Polytechnique massacre.

Le Ministère de la Condition féminine du Québec has also launched a publicity campaign about domestic violence, in order to remind people that acts of violence, even where they occur within a relationship, are still criminal acts.

(Click here to watch the video.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pro-Choice Contest

Brought to you by Canadians for Choice. For more details, or to participate, visit their website here.

Bill Watch - Fetus fetishizers edition

Apparently, Conservative MP Ken Epp brought forward a private bill that seek to create a "Laci Peterson"-type of criminal offence. This offence would punish those who cause the "death" of an unborn child during an act of violence against a pregnant woman.

The worst thing about this Bill is that it purports to protect "a mother's choice to give birth."

As the Unrepentant Old Hippie explains:

"The latest jeans-creaming dream come true for Gileadean fetus-fanatics is a private member's bill tabled today by Alberta MP Ken Epp, the 'Unborn Victims of Crime' bill. The UVOC bill would 'protect a mother's choice to give birth', making it a crime to cause the injury or death of a fetus in the commission of violence against the mother.

"Don't get excited. Nothing 'anti-abortion' to see here, noooooo, just move along. Why, the UVOC bill is just about protecting 'choice' -- the mother's choice to carry a pregnancy to term and have it culminate on Day 273 as a baked-to-perfection babycake. And anyone who wields a knife or baseball bat (or scalpel?) and stops that from happening would be committing murder, as surely as it would be murder to kill the mother. Fetus? Hell, never mind that, this bill would protect embryos... zygotes, even. 'At any stage of development before birth.'"


Predictably, Ken Epp identifies as pro-life, and opposes gay marriage. But he "advocate[s] fairness and equality of all Canadians."

Yeah, right. Straight, White, male, middle-class (and preferably unborn) Canadians, that is...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Being the Catholic Church is never having to say you're sorry...

After making clumsy and insensitive remarks recently at the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Québec City wrote a letter to French-language newspapers in Québec, as an apology for the past wrongs of the Catholic Church against, namely, members of other religions, homosexuals and women.

The jist of Mgr Ouellet is contained in those two paragraphs:

"Comme archevêque de Québec et primat du Canada, je reconnais que des attitudes étroites de certains catholiques, avant 1960, ont favorisé l’antisémitisme, le racisme, l’indifférence envers les premières nations et la discrimination à l’égard des femmes et des homosexuels. Le comportement des catholiques et de certaines autorités épiscopales relativement au droit de vote, à l’accès au travail et à la promotion de la femme n’a pas toujours été à la hauteur des besoins de la société ni même conforme à la doctrine sociale de l’Église.


"Je reconnais aussi que des abus de pouvoir et des contre-témoignages ont terni chez plusieurs l’image du clergé, et nui à son autorité morale : des mères de famille ont été rabrouées par des curés sans égard pour les obligations familiales qu’elles avaient déjà assumées ; des jeunes ont subi des agressions sexuelles par des prêtres et des religieux, leur causant de graves dommages et traumatismes qui ont brisé leur vie ! Ces scandales ont ébranlé la confiance du peuple envers les autorités religieuses, et nous le comprenons ! Pardon pour tout ce mal !"

[Emphasis added.]

To me, not only is this so-called mea culpa blatantly insufficient, it also strikes me as being insincere and hypocritical.

First of all, Mgr Ouellet is speaking for himself, and not as a voice for the Catholic Church.

Secondly, he's not really apologizing for anything. In fact, he doesn't even come close to fully taking the blame for the Church oppression of women and homosexuals. He merely admits that some Catholics, before 1960, might have had attitudes that may have fostered discrimination against women and gays.

Seriously, I fail to see an apology in there. As if the whole Catholic doctrine wasn't hostile to women and gays in the first place. As if such "attitudes" had miraculously stopped after 1960.

Thirdly, while Mgr Ouellet seems to be acknowledging the historically common pratice of priests who would either deny communion to women who illegally used contraception or remained abstinent in order to prevent further pregnancies, or visit them at home to sermon them, it can hardly be said that he's showing more understanding.

In fact, his words even suggest that it would have been OK to do so with respect to women who had not had children yet.


However, I am please to see that most politicians, journalists and feminist leaders in Québec are not buying this bullshit.

Christine St-Pierre, Ministre de la Condition féminine, while she acknowledged Mgr Ouellet's "effort", stressed that the Catholic Church must still review its position regarding contraception, homosexuality and the equality between men and women.

La Fédération des femmes du Québec also expressed similar feelings.

Elizabethan Match-Making

"European Queen, single, still capable of child-bearing, red head, youthful look, seeks blue-blooded bachelor, to stabilize her country and produce a male heir. Love is optional."

A rare contemporary portrait of Queen Elizabeth I was sold today for 5,3 million $ in England. It is believed that this portrait was ordered by Elizabeth as a form of publicity to help her find a royal husband.

Isn't it absolutely beautiful?

Happy Sexual Harassment Season!

It's snowing outside and it can only mean one thing: the Holiday Season is coming, and along with it, the traditional office parties, where co-workers have fun and exchange mundane presents.

So, you ask, what's an appropriate present to give to a co-worker/your boss/a subordinate?

What about something sexy and fun? Like, for example, lingerie or lubricant?

I notice the ad below in today's Metro.

In this ad, Boutique Séduction, a Montréal sex shop, is suggesting upfront that its merchandize constitute appropriate gift ideas for office parties, and that such "sexy" gifts are just fun and playful.

You know, because somehow, being given lingerie by your boss or one of your coworkers is not sexual harassment around Christmas time, when everybody's drunk and happy.

The picture on the ad is pretty disgusting in and of itself. All the people picture look drunk, and all the men are either looking down someone's décolleté or grabbing a female coworker. The mere fact that it suggests that this sort of behaviour is acceptable in a work environment is unacceptable.


If you want to complain to Boutique Séduction, please do so at the following number: (514) 593-1169, or by mail, at:

Boutique Séduction
5220, boulevard Métropolitain Est
Montréal (Québec)
H1S 1A4

Make sure to CC your letter to Metro... :

625 Avenue du Président-Kennedy
Suite 700
Montréal (Québec)
H3A 1K2
Phone: (514) 286-1066

... and to la Commission des normes du travail:

Commission des normes du travail
26e étage
500, boulevard René-Lévesque Ouest
Montréal (Québec)
H2Z 2A5

You can also write an opinion letter to Metro, at:


A recent Canadian study, sarcastically called "The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women", shows that women who don't conform to feminine stereotypes in the workplace are twice as much likely to be sexually harassed than their "traditional" counterparts.

As left-clicked, at F-email Fightback, explains:

"[S]exual harassment is motivated by a wish to punish women who blur gender distinctions. Women coming up through the ranks or entering a traditionally male work environment may threaten some men's sense of security and status. The dynamic is similar to harassment of minorities who threaten a majority group's dominant position in the workplace.

"Jennifer Berdahl, at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, found that women who behaved independently and assertively and spoke out were more likely to be sexually harassed than women who fit feminine ideals of deference, modesty and warmth. Ms. Berdahl noted this was especially true in male-dominated workplaces."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Feminine instincts and personal safety

Yesterday, I was in a café with a friend, standing in line. After she got her order, I moved away from the line and a male staff member bump into me from behind.

Instead of just apologizing, he grabbed me from behind, firmly holding my waist with his arm. He maintained his hold of me for two or three seconds, and said something like "Shall we dance?"

As the place was noisy, I had not seen or heard him coming, and was completely caught by surprise. He was holding me and speaking to me from behind, and I couldn't even see his face.

When he let go of me, I caught up with my friend. I told her what had just happened. I was angry, but more than anything else, I was really upset, as the incident has triggered old fears and feelings of inadequacy.

I wish I had had the instinct to defend myself, to push him away, to yell at him, to claw his eyes out. But I did not do any of those things. I didn't even say anything, not even a hushed complain.

Of course, I fell incredibly outraged and angry at this asshole. But I can't help to feel angrier at myself, for being so inadequate and useless in defending myself. I also feel sad that I can't do what I preach, what I have learned and what I believe is the right thing to do.

I couldn't apply the basic rules I've learned: attack his eyes, pull his hair, kick his groin... It didn't even cross my mind. I was paralyzed by surprise and fear.

It wasn't an attack per se, although this guy didn't have the right to touch me - let alone seize me - like that without my consent. (Assault simpliciter, anyone?) Maybe the guy acted in good faith, or without thinking - which, while it clears him of being a predator, doesn't change anything to his being a complete idiot. It happened in a public place, and I guess that another person might have reacted differently than I did.

My point is just that, had this been a full-fledged attack, I'm not sure I would have been able to adequately defend myself.

Wake up call

Britain celebrated the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion, and apparently, nobody cared.

(Except of course, the so-called "pro-life" folks.)


It seems it can't be stressed often enough. January 28th, 2008, will mark the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada.

Pro-choice people must do something about it. Just so that anti-choicers won't have this special day all to themselves to complain about how many "babies" have been "murdered" in Canada over the past 20 years.

The End of Real Women

I'm not making this up. The signs are everywhere. Real women - of the thinking, feeling, natural kind - are facing extinction.

We are being replaced. We are being replaced by pictural and mechanical versions of ourselves that are better than we'll ever be. The pornography industry is more powerful than ever on its own. In addition, it is fueled by the creativity of misogynistic inventors from all over the world, and by the fierce marketing of products that target to women.

Slowly but surely, real women are being replaced. The notion of genuine womanhood is being replaced, with a more aggressively marketed, manufactured femininity ideal, that is impossible for real women to compete with, let alone attain.

Real women are facing a choice: they can either try to run with it and try to commit to the rules of this pornified femininity, or disappear.

Or rather, the notion that it is acceptable to call ourselves women when we cannot or do not want to conform to these norms will disappear.


After all, the utility and likeability of rea women is so limited. We don't come anywhere close to being acceptable, porn-grade women.

Real women think, feel and express themselves. We are not silent, passive and cannot be shut down at will by our male owner.

Real women are complex sexual beings. We do not orgasm at the mere push of a button, and we don't have knobs and switches that make us moan.

All real women don't moan.

Real women don't always want to have sex with their partners. Nor can they follow their husbands wherever they go just so they will be sexually available if and when he feels like getting off.

Real women have a mind of their own, a life and a history, with which their life partner necessarily has to cope.

Real women don't have "perfect," plastic bodies. Real women have hair, wrinkles, and uneven skin. Real women don't wake up in the morning with their hair done and their make-up on. Real women don't perpetually look like they're 14. Real women age.

March in support for the Rule of Law in Pakistan

"The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is joining legal organizations around the world in a show of support for the lawyers and judges of Pakistan, calling for the restoration of the rule of law in that country.

"On Sunday, November 25 in Ottawa, the CBA will be holding a march in solidarity with the defenders of the rule of law in Pakistan. CBA President Bernard Amyot will lead the procession of CBA Bar Leaders, lawyers, law students and other members of the legal community from across Canada. The County of Carleton Law Association is also giving its full support to the march to the steps of the Supreme Court of Canada. Bar Leaders will address the marchers and participants will have the opportunity to sign a petition of support for Pakistan lawyers, judges and the rule of law."

Click here for the details.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Finally, an intelligent film with ... um... bite?

There's a new film coming up called Teeth, that sounds really interesting and that I'd really like to see (that is, if and when it's released in Canada).

It's the story of Dawn, an introverted high school student, who, as a typical female teenager, feels awkward about boys, dating, sex and her own body. Dawn tries to deal with her contradictory feelings by being part of some abstinence club, and keepings things platonic with her boyfriend.

The twist is that, when he attempts to sexually assault her, she discovers that her vagina actually has teeth, which leaves her boyfriend in a sorry state and herself in possession of an unexpected weapon against male violence.

From the reviews I have read so far, this "horror comedy" is a pretty good commentary on sexual education politics, male attitudes towards female sexuality, and women's relation with their bodies:

"If you get over the rather distasteful subject matter and focus on what's beneath the surface, you'll find a flick that's got a whole lot to say about young women and their fear of burgeoning sexuality, society's general distaste (and, let's face it, fear) of the female sex organ, and the ways in which men do a serious disservice to womankind by treating their "naughty bits" as if they're something to be ashamed of. Teeth covers all this ground (and a whole lot more), and I suspect it's more open-minded and honest than most of what passes for "sex ed" these days. This movie offers enough meaty subtext to fill three semesters and it does so in a shocking, humorous and strangely compassionate fashion.


"I'm of the opinion that audacity is something to be admired in today's cinematic world, and Teeth has audacity to spare. Fortunately for the brave movie-watcher, the film is also very smart, slick and entirely unashamed to throw a few nasty shocks into the equation ... if that's what it takes to get the point across. As Dawn begins to realize that her privates possess a decidedly unsavory set of dental features, the phrase "sex as a weapon" begins to take on a whole new meaning. Lichtenstein bravely refuses to shy away from the sticky questions and icky repercussions, which elevates Teeth beyond the label of "interesting curiosity" and right into the realm of 'brazen brilliance.'"

(Click here for the full review.)

Teeth was shown at the Berlin Film Festival 2007, and at the Sundance Film Festival 2007, where actress Jess Weixler (who plays the lead role) won the Special Dramatic Jury Prize for Acting.


Here is the trailer:

The only thing that makes me tick with this film is the fact that its trailer calls it a "cautionary tale for men."

Why would it be? Because hurting women is OK? Because our ladyparts are, indeed, weird and dangerous? *sigh*

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bad analogies

Bad pro-life analogy #1 - Women as broodmares:

"Carl Gunter Jr. (deceased) - 'Inbreeding is how we get championship horses'.
"Louisianna state representative, explaining why he was fighting a proposed anti-abortion bill that allowed abortion in cases of incest."


Bad pro-life analogy #2 - Women as cardboard boxes:

... *sigh*

"Snow White"

Below is a very moving excerpt from a post at Marginal Notes:

"I used to love reading fairy tales when I was little...didn't everyone?

"Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella...

"All suffered at the hands of other women and were saved by the fairy-tale love of a man.

"How different real life is from the fairy tales...

"Most of us suffered at the hands of men. At least, I did.

"Once I lay unconscious in an emergency room, hooked up to a heart monitor. A nurse asked my mother, "Has your daughter been raped?" My mother was shocked, but answered, "Yes...but why do you think that?" The nurse told her that every time a male doctor went near me, my heartbeat changed.

"How do you undo wounds that leave you vigilant even when unconscious?"

Go read the whole thing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The WTF Highlight of the Day

Don't tell me we don't live in a pornified society.

This toy stripper pole (below) - yes, you've read correctly: a toy stripper pole - was available in the UK up until recently.

Seriously: Who are you supposed to play this "game" with? In what outfit - let alone the garter thing - are the little kids supposed to "dance"?

"The Tesco Direct site advertises the kit with the words, 'Unleash the sex kitten inside...simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go!

"'Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars'.

The £49.97 kit comprises a chrome pole extendible to 8ft 6ins, a 'sexy dance garter' and a DVD demonstrating suggestive dance moves."

(If, after reading the above, you still think that the Peekaboo stripping pole is just good, harmless, tongue-in-cheek fun, and that it's suitable for your 10 year-old, click here.)

This "toy" was removed from the shelves after Tesco received numerous complains of outraged parents and health profesionals.

Predictably, Tesco attempted to justify itself:

"Tesco last night denied the pole dancing kit was sexually oriented and said it was clearly marked for "adult use".

"A spokesman added: 'Pole dancing is an increasing exercise craze. This item is for people who want to improve their fitness and have fun at the same time.'"

"Exercise," eh?... Yeah, right... *rolls eyes*

Is it just me or that statement doesn't really convince me that they weren't trying to market sex work to grade-school kids?

Tesco's attitude is an insult to the intelligence of the parents who complained and of the members of the general public who are offended by this toy. Do they actually expect us to believe that a toy, called "Peekaboo" was "clearly marked for adult use"?

Opposite perspectives on sexual assault

Recently in the UK, Conservative MP David Cameron called for more support for sexual assault victims, both at the pre-trial and trial stages, and for "proportionate", i.e. harsher, sentences for rapists. He also requested that the government enact measures to purge society of its "rape culture", so that attitudes and behaviours that trivialize or legitimize sexual assault and the objectification of women be clearly identified as wrong and, to a certain extent, against the law.

Mr Cameron also asked "that the government ... fund public service announcements against rape and cover sexual consent in sex-ed classes."

As Mr Cameron explained:

"It is important that we talk to children, so that years later when they become jurors, they no longer believe the myths of sexual assault: that women and girls are asking for it if they wear particular clothes, or are out late, or are drinking, that it's all their fault."


Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, a 19 year-old rape victim was sentenced to 90 lashes. Her crime? Being in a secluded place with a man who was not her husband or a relative.

"The young woman’s offense was in meeting a former boyfriend, whom she had asked to return pictures he had of her because she was about to marry another man. The couple was sitting in a car when a group of seven men kidnapped them and raped them both, lawyers in the case told Arab News, a Saudi newspaper.

"The woman and the former boyfriend were originally sentenced to 90 lashes each for being together in private, while the attackers received sentences ranging from 10 months to five years in prison, and 80 to 1,000 lashes each."

The woman's lawyer appealed her sentence, on the ground that it was unusually harsh (the usual sentence for "adultery" being 60 to 80 lashes), and publicly denounced the ruling. As a result, "the court increased the victim’s sentence to 200 lashes and six months in jail", and her lawyer's license was suspended. (He is now facing disciplinary procedures.)

More on crazy cat ladies...uh... over-achieving, single feminists

Picture of the day

(This cat is probably a feminist, because, you know, we feminists eat babies and, well, we share our miserable, lonely, and unfulfilled lives with our kitties and everything...)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Party like it's 1988

And now for something completely different, I'll post something in French for once.

Depuis plusieurs mois, la chanson Dégénérations du groupe folklorique Mes Aïeux tourne à plein régime sur les ondes radiophoniques québécoises. Récemment, cette chanson a même remporté le prix de la Chanson populaire de l'année au gala de l'ADISQ.

Toutefois, je déteste personnellement cette chanson. Ce n'est pas de la mauvaise musique. Le rythme est entraînant, et le son folklorique épuré n'est pas désagréable en soi.En fait, c'est son message rétrograde envers les femmes qui m'horripile.

En effet, le deuxième couplet se lit comme suit:

"Ton arrière-arrière-grand-mère, elle a eu 14 enfants
Ton arrière-grand-mère en a eu quasiment autant
Et pis ta grand-mère en voulait trois c'était suffisant
Pis ta mère en voulait pas, toi t'étais un accident

"Et pis toi, ma p'tite fille, tu changes de partenaire tout le temps
Quand tu fais des conneries, tu t'en sors en avortant
Mais y'a des matins, tu te réveilles en pleurant
Quand tu rêves la nuit d'une grande table entourée d'enfants"

(Cliquez ici pour les paroles complètes.)

Bleh. Quelle horreur.

Je rêve où les masses adorent une chanson où l'on idéalise une époque où la femme était la simple propriété de son mari, où le divorce était sinon illégal, sinon socialement impossible, et où elle n'avait pas accès - ni même le droit - à la contraception?

Oui, les Québécoises d'il y a deux ou trois générations avaient des familles de 10, 12 ou 14 enfants. Mais combien de ces grossesses étaient désirées, ou même encore issues de rapports sexuels égalitaires et consentants? Combien de ces grossesses pouvaient réellement être supportées par les ressources physiques de la mère et les ressources financières du ménage?

C'était l'époque où les filles les plus âgées dans la maisonnée (comme ma propre grand-mère, qui était l'aînée d'une famille modeste de 14 enfants) devaient se passer d'une éducation de niveau primaire pour aider leurs mères à s'occuper des frères et soeurs plus jeunes et des diverses corvées domestiques.

Et oui, beaucoup de personnes de notre génération sont nés de grossesses non désirées. Réveillez-vous: la contraception n'a été légalisée au Canada que depuis 1969, et l'avortement n'a été décriminalisé qu'en 1988.

Si vous êtes nés avant 1988, rappelez-vous que votre mère n'a peut-être pas eu le choix de vous mettre au monde, avec tous les sacrifices physiques, mentaux et matériels que ça implique.

D'autre part, la chanson parle de "conneries" que les "pauvres" filles d'aujourd'hui font.

De quelle "connerie" parle-t-on? Avoir des relations sexuelles? Avoir des relations sexuelles non protégées? Avoir des relations sexuelles pour le plaisir, sans désir qu'il en résulte une grossesse?
Avoir des relations sexuelles avec des partenaires différents? Est-ce qu'il faut traiter de cons tous celles et ceux - pourquoi la gent masculine serait-elle exemptée du jugement moral de Mes Aïeux? - qui ont déjà eu des relations sexuelles dans de telles circonstances? Ou qui ont déjà fait eu des relations sexuelles tout court? Ou avec plus d'un partenaire?

Avoir une vie sexuelle libre, sans contrainte, non limitée au mariage, et non assujettie à la possibilité de devenir mère? On devrait plutôt célébrer les 20 ans de cette réalité.

Enfin, l'avortement n'est ni - j'en conviens - un moyen de contraception en tant que tel au même titre que le condom ou la Pilule. Toutefois, c'est un choix légitime, et non, comme cette chanson le suggère, qu'une façon d'éviter les conséquences d'une "connerie".

C'est un choix légitime de choisir si, quand, et avec qui on veut avoir des enfants. C'est un choix légitime de décider que non, on n'est pas physiquement, mentalement ou financière prête à créer, porter, accoucher, entretenir et élever un enfant.

Toutes les femmes n'ont pas envie, contrairement à ce que le suggère la chanson, d'avoir des tas enfants. Ou même un seul. Toutes les femmes n'ont pas besoin, pour s'épanouir pleinement dans la vie, de devenir mère.

Je suis déçue de l'engouement que les gens de ma génération (gens de la vingtaine) semblent avoir pour cette chanson rétrograde, moralisatrice, simpliste et avant-tout misogyne.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Young Feminists Unite!

In october 2008, on Thanksgiving weekend, young feminists from all over the country will flock to Montréal to attend the first Rassemblement pancanadien des jeunes féministes.

If you would like to attend this event, or if you'd like to get involved in its organization, please contact Barbara Legault, from la Fédération des femmes du Québec, at, or by phone: (514) 876-0166.

For more information, you can also contact le Comité des jeunes féministes du Y des femmes de Montréal, at .

Please tell me this isn't for real...

The name speaks for itself: "Monopoly Pink Boutique Edition"... i.e. a game on how to handle money for girls.

You know, because the fact that it's pink makes it easier for our tiny, mathematically-challenged lady brains.


Give the taxman a hug...

... because he deserves it for not taking this anti-choice bullshit.

"November 10, 2007

"Fredericton -- A New Brunswick man who refuses to file tax returns as a protest against abortion has been found guilty and ordered to file the returns and pay $3,000 in fines.

"David Little, 62, of Fredericton says he won't comply with the order because he maintains the religious belief that abortion is murder and the federal government funds abortions.

"Judge Leslie Jackson has given Mr. Little until March 31 to file his tax returns and must return to court April 4 if he hasn't paid the fines."

Of course, the CRA just really enjoys collecting our hard-earned money, but I'm relieved that nobody is buying into this guy's civil disobedience argument.

I also hope that the next guy this guy shows up in an emergency room, or takes his kids to school, somebody will kindly (or not) remind him that individual taxpayers can't pick and choose where our tax dollars go.

It's called society...


More comments on this case from the Unrepentant Old Hippie and Feministe.


More information on the difficulties of access to abortion services in New Brunswick.

This is what happens when you legalize gay marriage...

Stephen Harper, Peter McKay, and their little conservative/crazy religious right friends must be so happy right now. Here's proof they were right all along about gay marriage. You know, the slippery slope argument? If we allow gays to marry, then we'll have to let people tie the knot with multiple partners, and even animals...

Well, guess what?

It just happened.

Some man in India - you know, a country where gays have been widely accepted for, like, ages- just married a bitch (of the canine kind), apparently as an attempt to break a curse that had plagued him ever since he killed two dogs some 15 years ago.

Here's a picture of the newlyweds.

The dog is actually really cute, but she doesn't seem to be enjoying herself very much... As the good people from CuteOverload would say, she's all "baroo?"


So why again are gay rights in general and the issue of gay marriage relevant from a feminist perspective?

Because the concept of marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution is based on a reductive view of women's place in society, as well as gender-based stereotypes, which feminists abhor and seek to eradicate. Such premises include:

  • The sole purpose of marriage is procreation (So if you're gay, sterile, menopaused or if you simply don't want to reproduce, screw you. This one also presupposes that men would normally not enter into long-term, committed relationships with women if it were not to have sex with them and impregnate them.);
  • Only heterosexual, i.e. "complete" couples are able to parent (uh... did Britney get the memo?);
  • Children cannot be raised in the absence of a mother and a father (but especially in the absence of a mother, so get back to the kitchen, you selfish, ambitious career girls);
  • There is nothing wrong in the heterosexual, patriarchical model of society, as a matter of fact, it has worked just fine for the last thousand years, so why change our good old traditions? (Like treating women, children and icky foreigners as chattels that can be bought, sold and destroyed at will?)

Friday, November 2, 2007

A very romantic bloodbath

Lately, there has been much comment on this Russian promotional article about hymenoplasty, that is, the surgical procedure by which a woman's virginity can be "restored". The procedure basically involves sewing back together the remaining pieces of a woman's hymen. Since is it performed with absorbable ("melting") sutures, it necessarily implies that the patient will "lose" her virginity, once again, within approximately 2 weeks.

The article lists 5 reasons why a non-virgin would like to go through (1) a surgery and (2) the wholesome fun of being in pain and covered in blood once again in her life. They range from "you can deceived your husband on your wedding night" to "men will pay more to have sex with you if you're a virgin" to the heinous "it's the nicest thing a girl can do for her emotionally-challenged boyfriend":

"Hymen repair surgery aims to enable a patient’s sexual partner to have “that thrilling conquest” normally associated with the wedding night. As a rule, patients are warned straightaway that they are likely to bleed more and feel greater pain during the subsequent intercourse, compared to blood loss and pain caused by the original act of deflowering.

"Indeed, Marina’s second “wedding” night was a rather painful experience for her. On the contrary, her boyfriend enjoyed every minute if it."

[Emphasis added]

Yuck. I find this whole thing really disturbing, not to mention extremely physically hazardous.

As Lauredhel puts it:

"Say, is anyone making virgin-porn? Cos you could just shove a pint-bag of pig-blood up there and have at it. The special effects guys could have a ball.

"'Though the risks of infection and fever are minimal, a patient must pay special attention to personal hygiene for at least two weeks after the operation. She must refrain from having a bath, visiting a sauna. Swimming is under a temporary ban too, especially in the outdoor bodies of water or a swimming pool.'

"But feel free to have some rape-deprived asshat ejaculate all over it."


What sort of psycho gets off on seeing his "loved" one suffer like this? What sort of psycho gets off in circumstances where he is aware that his partner is in pain and definitely not enjoying herself?

Surely not someone who cares about his partner's sexual and bodily integrity. I think Cara has it right when she suggests a link between this very literal form of parthenophilia and the rape culture:

"This is absolutely one of those things that we can file under rape culture. Not because a woman losing her virginity to a man is akin to rape, or because purposely breaking a hymen is the same as rape. First penetrative sex can certainly be painful (whether or not you have a hymen in tact, which in fact many if not most women these days do not). But your sexual partner (in this case, your husband, of course) is supposed to care when you’re in pain, slow down, be gentle, ask if you’re okay, ask if you want to continue, and STOP if you don’t. He is not supposed to see that you’re in pain and then pound it in harder, or get off on the fact that his oh-so-impressive erection is making you bleed. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have sex with such a man, and I don’t want to.


"What the fuck? I don’t care what kind of kinky fetish you’re into, getting off on the fact that you are actually hurting your girlfriend during sex is wrong. This is, in fact about rape. It’s our rape culture that tells us women feeling pain during sex isn’t something to avoid, it’s something to get off on. It’s rape culture telling men that they have a right to the bodies of their female significant others — apparently extending to the right to cause her physical pain. It’s the rape culture that tells us men’s sexual pleasure comes first, at the expense of female sexual pleasure, in spite of female sexual pain and the expense of the female right to sexual autonomy — and that a “good” woman will accept this happily. Without rape culture, the kinds of views espoused in this article (as though they’re benign!) would not even exist.

"Encouraging men to look forward to breaking their sexual partner’s hymen, not only in spite of her pain, but in fact very much because of it, is promoting violence against women. Period."

[Emphasis added]

I couldn't agree more. If you're a male whose kink is to painfully and bloodily tear up one's hymen, then you're a sexual psychopath. On the other hand, if you're a male with a virgin fetish who limits himself to (fake) virgin porn or who likes to pretend play with his (non-virgin) female partners, then you're a budding pedophile.

Quite a charming picture.


Some of the people who have posted comments here and there about that promotional article have rightly pointed out that the mere fact of having an intact hymen does not in itself make you a virgin.

For a thorough discussion on how to define virginity and on the medical and cultural treatment of virgins and virginity through the ages, I encourage you to read Virgin - The Untouched History, by Hanne Blank.

It covers just about you ever wanted to know about virginity, from centuries-old methods to fake it, to season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.