Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blog for Choice - Part Two

As you already know, tomorrow will mark the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada.

Today, a small group of pro-choicers proudly walked in downtown Montréal to remind their fellow citizens of this important date, and show that they want abortion in Canada to remain legal, safe, accessible and free.

Despite our numbers, the event was a success because the participants responded individually to this call for action. They walked in the cold, not because they're part of some group or organization that told them to be there, but because they believe in reproductive freedom.

Secondly, it was also a success because approximately one third of the participants were men who are equally concerned about the issue of freedom of choice, and who don't dismiss it as a "women's issue."

Finally, our little, spontaneous march received some excellent media coverage, thanks to our wonderful volunteer publicist, MJ.


However, I was disappointed by the abysmal apathy of the people that we had contacted over the last few months. Most of them either did not give us any answers, or told us that they were not interested in participating. In addition, some people who had said they would attend the event never actually showed up.

But above everything else, I was extremely disappointed by the blatant lack of support of women's organization (namely, the Fédération des femmes du Québec and the Fédération pour le planning des naissances du Québec), and of student associations.

Despite having been notified months ago that we wanted to organize an event to celebrate the anniversary of R. v. Morgentaler, it was only until recently that the FFQ contacted us to inquire into our actions.

To my knowledge, no FFQ member or representative attended the march today.

Although the FFQ, along with other Québec pro-choice and women's groups, is to hold a press conference tomorrow to commemorate this anniversary, this initiative suspiciously looks like a last minute attempt to show that they're still on top of their things and that they care about reproductive rights.

Well, big effing deal.

The FFQ had other plans, months in the making. As a matter of fact, they'd been planning another event for January 26th, 2008. That is, this protest for peace in the Middle East and the preservation of environment. Though these are important issues as well, I can't help to have the uneasy feeling that the FFQ somehow forgot to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Morgentaler ruling, or that they *just* thought that it was more important, this January 2008, to celebrate something else.

I can only wish that this administrative decision will be explained shortly, and that the people responsible will be held accountable.

Our freedom of choice is a right that can't afford being kept in the dark by the very people who should be upholding it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

A Christian website on how to deal with porn-addicted Christians:

"The church needs to expose this snake and cut off its head before more lives are ruined. "

By "snake", they mean "penis", right?

Rant of the Day

"If I had a cock..." - A rant on pornography by Oni Baba

It's no secret for those of you who read this blog that I'm deeply opposed to pornography.

From an ideological point of view, I think it's at odds with the egalitarian and non-exploitative values that feminism - in my opinion - stands for.

I also think that it is morally - and should be treated as legally - wrong. It's wrong because it's about making objects out of women - you know, those uppity female human beings. It's about using women, and trying to make them fit into the mold of unrealistic fantasies. It's also morally wrong because the goal of pornography is to use static interactions with representations of women as a way to reach sexual arousal/satisfaction. This necessarily entails that such arousal of satisfaction is not conditional to the male pornography consumer's negotiating the terms of the sexual act with the woman. The static nature of pornography make her consent entirely irrelevant. The women featured in pornography are always willing partners. We find the same attitude towards women in men who consume porn to get off, and those who rape women to achieve the same end.

And on a personal level, I really don't get it. Maybe it's just because I'm a woman.

Maybe my female upbringing didn't teach me that it was OK and socially acceptable to get off on unknown persons of the opposite sex because I want instant, easy sexual gratification, or just to boost my self-confidence.

Maybe it's just that I don't have a cock, where, as everybody knows, male self-confidence resides. If I had one, maybe I'd be tempted to exercise my god-given right to use women without their consent to satisfy my personal needs.

Maybe if I had a cock, I'd feel so lousy about myself that I'd rather play with myself and fantasizing about my virtual sexual performances than have real, consensual sex with an actual human being, with *gasp!* feelings, an *gasp!* intellect and even an *GASP!* ability to criticize my pathetic performances.

Maybe if I had a cock, no life and a fast Internet connection that allowed me to access loads of porn on demand, I'd do society a huge favour and I'd shoot myself.

Walk for Choice! - In Montréal, this Sunday!

Closer to home, I'm proud to announce that there will be a walk next Sunday in downtown Montréal to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada.

The walk will start at 12:00 in front of the Palais de justice, on the corner of St-Laurent and St-Antoine. (For those who are interested, there is a parking lot right there so you can leave your car.)

We will march downtown for about 30-45 minutes until we arrive at the Place du Canada (on the corner of Peel and René-Lévesque).

Please bring banners and signs, with fun and thoughtful pro-choice slogans.
This is also a B.Y.O.B. event, i.e. Bring Your Own Boyfriend. (And make your guy carry a sign that says "If men could get pregnant, there'd be abortions at Wal-Mart.")
This event is organized by a handful of concerned women who wanted to let their fellow citizens know that reproductive freedom is relatively quite recent, and that Canadian women care deeply about the preservation of those rights.
For more information, please write to

Blog for Choice - Part One

Today's the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That's 35 years of reproductive freedom for our fellow uterus owners South of the border - and as many years of fighting to preserve those hard-won rights, and of bitter losses to the hands of heinous conservative nutbags who think it's normal to force other people ('cause, you know, women are just people without penises) to suffer pregnancies and bring unwanted babies into this world.

So, cheers!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

'Takes the words right out of my mouth...

A - feminist and pro-choicer - friend of mine had this to say about the anti-abortion folks who hijack the mainstream media and use events such as January 28th to their own advantage.

I could not have said it better myself:

Le problème est que les pro-choix se taisent et se cachent. Les pro-vies se manifestent, manifestent, et crient. Ils utilisent les sentiments, les restants de religion, la pseudo-éthique. Hey, ils veulent jouer à ça : on peut jouer à ça. Ils veulent montrer des photos des fœtus en plastique? On peut montrer des photos de cadavres de femmes mortes lors d’accouchements illégaux. Ils veulent parler de choc post-avortement, parlons-en des conséquences d’une grossesse non-désirée portée à terme! Ils veulent pleurer sur le sort des hommes? Sortons leur ce pauvre homme de Daigle c. Tremblay: yé tellement fin et tellement à plaindre!!
Ils veulent pas avoir d’avortement. Qu’ils en aient pas et qu’ils se trouvent un autre truc à pas vouloir faire pour manifester.

I cannot stress it enough: it's up to us, the pro-choice, feminist crowd, to get in the spotlight for once and get our message across to our fellow citizens and to our governments.

So let's not waste this opportunity.

Pro-choicers must fight back!

Just like in the UK, anti-choicers in Canada plan to hijack the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in Canada (January 28th, 2008) by holding misleading, anti-feminist and borderline hateful events all over the country.


For instance, a new so-called "pro-life" groupe (as if we needed any more of those) called "ProWomanProLife" has been lauched to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1988 Morgentaler Supreme Court ruling.

This group seeks to convince the public that they're all "pro-choice," in the sense that they want Canadian women to choose to "eradicate abortion" and to "remove abortion from our cultural landscape". Ugh.

They also want to open and operate more "Crisis Pregnancy Centres", i.e. fake clinics where distressed pregnant women are tricked into going through unwanted pregnancies.

Predictably, those folks are liars...:

ProWomanProLife celebrates women, life and freedom, and is being launched to mark the Morgentaler decision of January 28, 1988, which removed all restrictions on abortion in Canada at any stage of a pregnancy.

(They make it sound like before January 28th, 1988, women could freely get legal abortions, under certain conditions. This is not the case, as those folks surely know. Terminating one's pregnancy was a crime before that date.)

... as well as bigots, for they are acquainted with such "pro-women" groups as Focus on the Family Canada and Family Canada.

"Pro-women". Yeah. Right.


On January 28th, 2008, another anti-abortion group has made an anti-choice short film called "1st Degree Morgentaler" that has been entered in a film competition called "Project Breakout".

The film in question a very doubtful account by a woman who claims to have undergone a forced abortion at the hands Dr. Henry Morgentaler himself.


(Well. At lease, they're stupid enough to publicize their acts of clear-cut defamation. I can't wait to see the lawsuits that will follow...Yay!)

The anti-choicers behind this are rejoincing because the results of the competition are to be released on January 28th.


Now, it's up to us, pro-choicers and feminists to hold our own events to let the public know that we don't accept that anti-choice, anti-women crap.

We need to unite our voices to tell the people of our communities that we support a woman's right to choose if and when she will have children.

We must take action to tell our fellow citizens and our governments that we want abortion in Canada to remain LEGAL, SAFE, ACCESSIBLE and FREE.


On Sunday, January 27th, there will be a walk in downtown Montréal to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion and to reaffirm our pro-choice values.

I will post more details of this events later on on this blog. You may also contact me by email at, or at

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The Globe and Mail tells us that there are not many women in top executive jobs, and that their numbers have been decreasing over the past year.

No shit.

Left out in the cold

Some aboriginal communities in Canada, like for instance, the Crees and Inuit of Northern Québec, are lucky enough to have strong land claims on vast territories that are rich in coveted natural resources. I say they're lucky because the riches of their ancestral lands provide them with they potent leverage they need when negotiating agreements with corporations and governments.

In 1994, the Innus of Uashat mak Mani Utenam (near Sept-Îles, in the Côte-Nord region in Québec), successfully stroke a deal with Hydro-Québec for the development of the SM-3 basin and plant on the Ste-Marguerite river, which is situated at the heart of their traditional hunting grounds.

The Innu obtained close to $20 millions from Hydro-Québec as compensation for the destruction of their lands, and as funding for the reconstruction and preservation of other areas. They also obtained $300,000 per year for 50 years to subsidize hunting, trapping and fishing.

But the major benefit of this deal for the Innu are spelled out in terms of short and long term employment opportunities with Hydro-Québec and its subcontractors.

However, many Innu women noted that the benefits for women were practically inexistant, as the bulk of the jobs created by the SM-3 project belong to traditionally male fields, such as construction, truck driving, electricity, etc... Moreover, they complained that most of these jobs had been created on a short term basis only, and that the male leaders of the community had favoured unsustainable development in an attempt to gain political support from the population:

Kathleen Saint-Onge, qui a été directrice adjointe de l’emploi, de la formation et du développement au Conseil de bande et qui, à ce titre, a participé aux travaux de la SOTRAC, s’est battue en vain pour obtenir un centre de formation professionnel, plutôt que de créer des emplois temporaires qui ne profitent qu’aux hommes. «La plupart des gens autour de la table étaient tous des hommes d’expérience. J’étais trop jeune pour leur faire face et le Conseil de bande voulait créer immédiatement des emplois». Kathleen déplore ce manque de vision à long terme. «On ne mise pas sur le développement durable dans la plupart des communautés... parce qu’il n’y a pas de capital politique à faire».

Hydro's response? Well, how could they have possibly known that women would not benefit from these jobs?

Ces commentaires étonnent Richard Laforest, représentant d’Hydro-Québec à la SOTRAC. Que les femmes aient éprouvé de la difficulté à se faire entendre ne lui a jamais effleuré l’esprit. «À ma connaissance, aucun projet pour les femmes ne nous a été présenté», dit-il, tout en reconnaissant que les critères pour les travaux rémédiateurs ou les activités traditionnelles ne les favorisent pas vraiment.

There you go. *sigh* It's so easy to hid you head in the sand, while patting yourself on the back for being to generous towards those poor Aboriginals...


The Innu of Uashat mak Mani Utenam are currently involved in negotiations with Consolidated Thomson with respect to the Bloom Lake iron mining project. Let's just hope that the interests of women will be taken into account this time, and that they'll be able to reap substantially equal benefits as the male half of the community.

When does catcalling become criminal harassment?

Imagine you're walking down the street with your five year-old child. Some random guy starts following you, wolf-whistling at you, and repeatedly telling you - in a completely uninvited and unwanted fashion - that you've got a nice ass, or nice tits or whatever. He only stops when you get in your car and speed away from the scene.

Surely, most women would say that such behaviour constitutes "harassement" in the colloquial sense of the word. But would most women say feel "threatened" by such catcalls?

(For harassment to constitute criminal harassment in the eyes of our criminal law, it has to be objectively "threatening," that is, that the accused's conduct must "[rise] to the level of a 'tool of intimidation designed to instill a sense of fear'".)

Now, what if the catcaller was a police officer in full uniform?

In a recent case, the Yukon Territory Court of Appeal acquitted a police officer of harassment charges, on the ground that his actions did not objectively constitute a "threatening" conduct.

Some commentators have rightly pointed out that the Court failed to take into account that the power dynamic that necessarily kicks into gear when a person in authority is involved:

I would have liked the Court to say something more about the fact that the accusedmade these comments while in uniform.
To my mind this elevates the conduct, viewed objectively, beyond the merely inappropriate, and potentially makes it threatening and intimidating. This guy wasn’t a construction worker.

Any thoughts?


Update (as a - lenghty - response to Lilith's comment):

The problem is that under our criminal law, we're stuck with "objective" notions of what is threatening when it comes to such offences as criminal harassment and uttering threats. The rationale for this is that the law seeks to punish the offender who had the intention to cause the victim to feel threatened or in danger of death or bodily harm. The courts determine if this intention is present by asking themselves whether the accused's words or actions were designed to instill fear, from his point of view, and not from that of the victim.

This is why we're forced to trust our judges with taking into account the perspective of the women who are most often the victims of such crimes. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. For instance, in 1991, in the McCraw case, the Supreme Court of Canada had to explain why threatening a woman of rape, even when the guys says he finds her pretty or that he's infatuated with her, necessarily constitutes a threat of bodily harm...

The problem is that judges are most often men, who interpret objective legal norm from the vantage of a reasonable man, who unlike a reasonable woman, is usually not afraid to go out alone at night, and usually capable of fending off potential assailants...

I agree that is not the best way to interpret laws that, in practice, seek to punish acts of violence against women. In fact, many feminist legal scholars have demanded that courts turn to a standard of a "reasonable woman" in such cases.

However, I'm not too sure it's a good idea, because I fear it would only allow male judges to introduce sexist notions on how a "reasonable female" should behave in such and such situation into our jurisprudence.

The best solution, I think, would be to appoint more women to the Bench!

A side note: In my opinion, the offenders who harass women or who threaten them, on the other hand, usually understand too well what women find threatening. That's precisely why they harass or threaten them in the first place.

That's also something - unfortunately - they understand almost instinctively, something they understand better than the judges who are called to rule their case.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A little reminder...

In less than two weeks, Canadians will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of abortion in our beautiful, so-progressive-I'm-hiding-my-head-in-the-sand country.

Here are two reading suggestions.

The first is an interview with Dr. Henry Morgentaler, to whose efforts and altruism we, Canadian women, mainly owe our reproductive freedom.

The second is an article from the Globe and Mail, by Judith Timson, where she criticizes the mainstream media for depicting abortion as negative, traumatizing or -worse - non-existent. Namely, she takes on the movies Knocked Up and Juno, which both deal with the topic of unwanted pregnancies, which both understate the physical and social impact of an unplanned pregnancy, and which respectively do not mention abortion and quickly dismiss it as an unthinkable option.

Ms. Timson's article makes two majors points. First, such films are at odds with reality. For instance, in Québec, one out of three pregnancies end up as abortions. So - get it? - abortions do exist, and they're not exceptional at all.

Secondly, the mainstream media dismisses the validity of the choice to terminate a pregnancy - as well as the importance of the mere fact that it is available at all. She rightly points out that, not so long ago, teenage girls who got pregnant had to illicitly travel to obtain abortions out of the country, or go through illegal and unsafe procedures.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Behind the veil

I recently finished reading Persépolis, the wonderful graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi.

In the four tomes of Persépolis (now available in a consolidated format), Ms. Satrapi recalls her childhood in Iran during the fall of the Shah and the instauration of the Islamic Republic, her subsequent exile and coming of age in Vienna as a teenager, and her eventual return to Iran as a liberated and freedom-loving young woman.

Ms. Satrapi's story is simply and sincerely told and drawn in a sober, black and white fashion. As the story progresses, the author's tone evolves from that of a 10 year-old girl to that of a rebellious and educated young woman, and alternates between tenderness, despair and brutality.

Just as Maus, the acclaimed graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, was not just about the Holocaust but also dwelled on the themes of the family and memory (as in mémoire), Persépolis is not just about Iran's oppressive regime.

It is also a critique of middle-eastern politics in recent history, an assault on organized religion, the tale of a young woman who learns how to find her true self, and a story about love - of men, of one's family and friends and of one's country and culture.

Now I can't wait to see the film!
Starting January 25th, A Creative Revolution will accept nominations for the first annual Canadian F-Word Blog Awards, which will salute the efforts and merits of Canadian blogs of feminist persuasion.

The categories are:

Best Canadian Feminist Blog
Best International Feminist Blog
Activist Blog
Environmental Blog
Entertainment Blog
Culture Blog
Group Blog
Individual Blog
WOC-centered Blog
Reproductive Liberty Blog
Family Blog
Political Blog
Humour blog
Best comment thread
The "why the fuck didn't I say that?" award for most poignant comment
Best Snark Comment
Most Regressive "Progressive"
The Support Bro - Best Post by a male in support of feminists/feminism

The winners will be announced on February 24th.

In the news: "Dead heart beats anew"

... maybe there's hope after all for the Conservatives...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fighting teh Porn around us

A little while ago, I was shopping for birthdays cards at a Carlton store. I noticed a display of 2008 calendars near the entrance, and among them, many featured -Brazilian-style-bikini-clad-almost-naked bombshells, happily cavorting in the sand, or striking pouty poses.

Besides the obvious "why would Carlton be selling porn?" question, I was shocked by the fact that those calendars were in plain sight, and close to the ground, where small children can freely see them, pick them up and flip through their pictures.

As I paid my purchase, I told the cashier that it was, in my opinion, unacceptable that pornographic calendars be displayed in such way as to be easily accessible for children. She looked at me as if I was crazy. I then went on to explain that in most stores where pornographic magazines are sold, they are usually harder to see, and hidden at the back of the displays.

The cashier was still looking at me with a glazed, "does-not-compute" look in her eyes.

Her (female) colleague then intervened: "Those are not pornographic. It's just naked women."

I decided not to push the discussion any further and left the store.


A few days ago, I found myself at a calendar stand in the middle of a mall, trying to find something cute or funny enough to ornate my wall for a whole year.

I noticed - again - pornographic calendars on the lower shelf of the display, at the ground level, in plain sight. I looked around. The cashier, this time, was a young man.

There was no chance in hell, I decided, that he'd be more sensitive to my arguments. After all, he had made the business decision to order, display and sell such products...

So I opted to fight the sneaky fight. I picked up a few "Studs and Spurs" calendars and placed them in front of calendars that pictured naked women.


OK. Fighting porn that objectifies women (i.e. very popular porn) with porn that objectifies men (i.e. less popular porn) is arguably not the best way to eliminate it. But at the very least, it may help, for a few hours or even a day, decrease the sale of pornographic material.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Unhappy Valentines

(Pun definitely intended.)

A Mississippi court awarded a man $754,500 in damages against his wife's lover for "stolen affections" and loss of consortium (i.e. his wife's sexual "services").

The ex-lover apparently attempted to challenge the constitutionality of the law, on the ground that it is based on the "medieval" notion that a woman is the property of her husband, but the law was upheld.


Update (2008/01/09):

For those who are not familiar with the term, consortium was one of the three heads under which a plaintiff could claim moral damages. (These categories of moral injury have lost their importance in Québec civil law.)

The others heads were solatium (i.e. grief) and servitium (i.e. the loss of the domestic services of the plaintiff's wife).

It is unclear whether women could claim damages for loss of consortium. In my humble opinion, it would have been unlikely, as married women, lacking legal capacity, could not sue on their own, and had to do so via their husband.

This reminds me of a Canadian civil liability case from the 50's. The plaintiff was a husband who was suing a hairdresser on his own behalf and on behalf of his wife. His wife had her scalp badly burnt by hair dye products, and had become bald as a result. The husband claimed damages on account of a loss of solatium, because his wife was so disfigured that he could not go out with her in public anymore, and for loss of consortium, because she had become so ugly that he couldn't bring himself to have intercourse with her...

*sigh* How tactful...

Picture of the day