Feminist Christian

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No really... not an oxymoron

Feminism, Socialism, Christianity, Autism, and Mommy-blogging. You'd think I'd need more blogs. But no.
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Don't tell me how to behave

sam, 07/19/2014 - 11:14
The news of last couple of weeks has been astoundingly bad. Israel invading Gaza. A plane carrying almost 300 people is shot down, likely by Russia, and now rebels won't let investigators near it. Another girl was roofied, raped, and mocked on social media for it.

And I've been happy. I know, according to the internet quiz I took on a whim, this makes me a terrible person. Only being utterly miserable in the face of others misery is acceptable. Especially for a woman.

But you know what? No. I can be happy while still saying none of these things is okay. While still recognising the tragedy and pain that others are experiencing. And in fact, I think I can do it better, because I'm not caught up in my own pain about it.

TOOT TOOT. Sorry. That was my horn. I was blowing it.

I believe in happiness. I think it's the only way to make the world a better place. I also believe that many people use anger as a motivator, and think they need to. More power to you if it works for you! No judgments here. I was an angry person for a lot of years, and I'm not judging myself for it either. Nor for the times when I still get angry! I've just decided I'm done with it, and if others want to be done with it too, that would be lovely. If not, cool. Go about your business. :)

It just seems to me that angry people make mistakes when they act in anger, not quiet determination. Of course, I could be projecting. I have made a number of truly spectacular fuckups when acting out of anger. The kind that I suspect people might still be talking about 20 years later when they have those "What's the weirdest thing that ever happened to you..." conversations. "Well, this one time, this crazy lady stomped past my secretary into my office while I was in a meeting with the university president and the board of directors, and yelled at me over a parking pass problem. She started throwing things at me, and I had to remove her, without making it look to the board like I couldn't handle a 19 year old woman without violence. She was CRAZY." -- University Director of Security

It seems to me that the vast majority of the shit that happens in the world happens because people are scared or angry (and I still think anger comes from fear). Russia shot down the plane out of fear that it was a Ukrainian jet coming to kill them. Or because they needed to assert their power and dominance. And now the rebels are blocking access, to do the same. Because any opportunity for a warring faction to show power and dominance is taken. To do anything but is to appear weak.

Those boys raped that girl not so much out of anger or fear, but out of an inability to see her as a human. That's a different kettle of fish. That's patriarchy, and the societal need to hold on to it. The system is designed to give power to men, and one of the best ways to do that is to make women so utterly invaluable as to be worthless as a human, but rather a thing to play with, a toy. They weren't consciously thinking that when they did it (I assume!) They'd just been taught via our society that women have no worth. That's societal fear. Patriarchal fear that if women are treated fairly, equitably, or even as human, that they might take some of the male power. And that fear is bred into boys without there ever being any real feeling of fear or anger on the boys' part. It's incredibly insidious.

Israel invaded Gaza... I don't know why. I don't know what in the hell they could be afraid of. Not having all the land in the region? I have no idea. But it's certainly happening because they're angry. Look at the rhetoric floating around. They hate the people of Gaza. And why? They can't be particularly afraid of the rocket attacks. They've got them so blockaded they won't ever manage to build power. So what the hell? I don't know.

What I do know is I refuse to hate them for hating. They're a bunch of angry people doing angry shitty things. And while I'm a wee bit afraid of the world devolving into another world war over this, with my ridiculous Prime Minister choosing what I think is the wrong side, I refuse to be miserable. I refuse to add to the misery of the planet with my own.

And you know what? I'm tired of being told how I "should" behave or react to things. We women get this more than men, but men get it too. We're told by both men and women to be "classy" (see @lindywest's Twitter feed last night). We're told that we should smile more. That we should swear less. That we shouldn't talk so much. Should talk more. Shouldn't interrupt. Should interrupt more. Should be nice when we say no. Should be more forceful when we say no. That we should mourn differently than we do. That we should joke differently than we do. (Women comedians aren't funny, you know! Pfft.) That we should lighten up. That we shouldn't lighten up.

To hell with it all. I will swear when I want. I will fart when I want. I will eat what I want. I will wear what I want. I will brag when I do something awesome. And I will joke about my shortcomings when I don't. I will believe whatever I want to believe, rational or not, because if it makes me happy, I don't give a shit if it's true. And especially, I will feel how I want to feel and I will make no apologies for it. I will be happy even if the world is going to hell around me. Or I will rail and scream and stomp into the office of ... okay, maybe not that one unless it's significantly more important than a parking pass clusterfuck. But I will rail and scream and swear if I fucking feel like it. And fuck decorum. Fuck classy. Fuck patriarchy. Fuck the so-called feminists who want to tell me how to behave. I will laugh at that sexist joke if I find it funny. I will tell someone I found their joke disgusting if I find it disgusting.

I guess I'm just not that nice. Or so Buzzfeed tells me.

A Senate Solution

sam, 07/12/2014 - 19:45
A simple solution to the Senate problem:

The popular vote achieved by each party is equal to the percentage of senators the party can appoint to the Senate.

- No party may appoint any senator without at least carrying 5% of the vote.
- No party may appoint a candidate who has lost their riding in that, or the previous election campaign. i.e. If Joe Con loses to Jane Lib, the Cons cannot appoint Joe Con to the senate for 8 years.

Problems? I mean, other than that it just makes too much sense for anyone in government to take seriously...

Conflicting message

sam, 07/12/2014 - 14:05
And I wonder why I'm self-conscious about wearing a bikini, sitting in my fenced backyard, because a neighbour might see my flabby belly from the window.


Conflicting messages much?

Lies, damned lies, and...

jeu, 07/10/2014 - 17:17
Statistics. I am so tired of hearing shitty science extolled as good science by people who are trying to point out shitty science. Convoluted, no?

Okay, so it's like this. Some study comes out showing a correlation between X and Y. Not a causal relationship, but a strong correlation and a note in the study saying more research is necessary.

Crazy Nutbars Who Can't Distinguish Between Correlation and Causation (CNWCDBCC) jump on this study and scream WE TOLD YOU X CAUSES Y!
Snarky Motherfuckers Who Know Less About Stats Than They Claim (SMWKLASTTC) start snarking that correlation != causation, and conclude that X cannot cause Y, because crappy understanding of Science.

Listen SMWKLASTTC, in an observational study, a strong correlation is required for proof of causation. It is not the only requirement by a longshot. You also need to have a well-designed study, consistency (hence the "more research is necessary" in the study), dose-response relationship (more people exposed, more people affected), reversibility (remove the potential cause and the incidence rate should decline), biological plausibility and coherence with known facts.[1]

It's those last two that have the SMWKLASTTC crowd screaming. It's not plausible, blah blah blah. Remember when rheumatic fever was most emphatically NOT caused by strep? Yeah. That was what science said then. Now it doesn't. Because they proved it, and changed the known facts.

And what's really important is controlling your study. Removing or randomizing associated factors and doing so with a large enough sample isn't easy. Especially when studying the cause of Y (Cancer, autism, OCD, roseacea, obesity, warts, whatever). Because human genetics aren't easy to control for if you don't know what you're looking for.

Suppose for the sake of simplicity that we're looking at whether the sun causes skin to burn. We get a nice random sample of people from all around the world, and they're all sorts of natural shades, from ivory to black coffee. We've got hundreds of thousands of people, because we're awesome. But we don't know anything about melanin, because we're not scientifically advanced enough yet. All we know is that in 15 minutes in the sun, only a tiny fraction of our millions in the sample are burnt. So we conclude that the sun doesn't cause burns. Nope. Because science! Because stats!

Oh, but we left them out for another 15 minutes, and all of a sudden, a lot more of them are burned. Oh, huh. And it's only the pale ones. But there's no reason for this (remember, we still don't know about melanin), so the pale ones must be having a psychological reaction. Because science! Because stats! But the CNWCDBCC are screaming WE TOLD YOU X CAUSES Y! Crazy nutbars.

And then someone comes up with the idea of melanin. Crazy bastard! EVERYONE knows that pale redheads are just psychologically weak. But eventually, the idea catches on, and he proves that it exists. Huh. Cool. So the sun does cause burns in short periods of time. But only in people who are genetically sensitive to it. Well, I'll be damned! Science was wrong! New info! The correlation between being in the sun and getting a burn was actually causal all along. But until they knew about melanin, they couldn't prove it. And the crazy nutbars? Well, lucky guess, right?*

And what's worse, is that the same motherfuckers who swear that X doesn't cause Y are the same ones that love to jump into an argument about obesity and scream that overeating is the cause of obesity because of that whole calories in/calories out bullshit lie. They holler that eating too much and obesity cause diabetes, even though there is no causal link proven. There is a strong positive correlation. But they pick and choose. Much like we all do, I suppose. Some correlations we assume to be causal and some we don't, based on our beliefs. But if you're going to get sanctimonious with me about suggesting that I'm going to stay away from X because of its correlation with Y, and claim I fail at science, I am so going to do it right back at you.

So stop that shit. If someone tells you vaccines or glyphosate cause autism, strep causes OCD, aspartame causes cancer, eating sugar causes diabetes, or that wearing shoes will give you cancer*, feel free to tell them that current scientific consensus says that's not true. And when they yank out some study that shows a correlation, feel free to remind them in as condescending a tone as you can manage that correlation doesn't imply causation. But do try to remember that correlation doesn't exclude causation either. There may be some factor missing in the studies and those crazy nutbars may one day be vindicated. You know, like the ones who insisted that cigarettes cause cancer. The ones who were certain that epilepsy was physical, not psychological. The ones who said BPA was dangerous, even in tiny amounts - especially in tiny amounts. The ones who screamed that the poor air quality was giving them asthma. All of those crazy nutbars who couldn't prove causation until they did.

*And of course, sometimes the crazy nutbars are just crazy nutbars.
[1] http://learnandteachstatistics.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/proving-causation/
I picked my links more or less randomly. Fair warning! :)

This is Canada

mer, 07/09/2014 - 14:02
Canada Day has come and gone, and no peep from me. I'm conflicted about Canada Day. Patriotism is bullshit in my not so humble opinion. You're proud of being Canadian? Why? We've done some great things, yes.
We have universal health care.
We have no abortion laws.
We have codified equality, including the right of any couple to marry each other, regardless of genital configuration.
We have a social safety net.
We have a law that allows people to apologise without taking legal responsibility for the issue.

And... ummm... we're good at hockey?

It's not enough. We could do so much more. We've codified equality, but we are not an egalitarian society.

Oh Canada, our home on native land. Racism continues to flourish. Just read the comments on any CBC article about aboriginal people. Never mind the statistics that show that they die younger, are paid less, are on welfare more, are incarcerated at way higher levels, and the biggest kick in teeth: have their children removed at way higher levels than non-aboriginals. Nearly half of the children in foster care are First Nations children. 3.6% of Aboriginal children aged 14 and under (14,225) were foster children, compared with 0.3% of non-Aboriginal children (15,345)

Women still make less money than men for the same work. Women still can't walk down the street at night without fear of rape, and then be blamed for having the nerve to walk down the street at night. Our reproductive rights are still an issue. There is no access to abortion in PEI, and in NB women need permission from TWO doctors. And if you're a native woman? Well, you're more likely to die of a violent crime than any other group. Domestic abuse (pdf) is far far higher in the aboriginal communities. And if you're missing? No one seems to give a shit. Forget about an inquiry, even if there hundreds of you missing or murdered.

Our social safety net is so awesome, isn't it? I mean, that's what I hear from my father-in-law. He tells me that people (read: natives) scam the system, because it's just so generous and easy to live on. No. Not just no, but Grumpy Cat NO. You know what welfare pays in BC?

• a single person considered employable receives $610 per month – $425 for shelter and $185 (or about $6 per day) for all other needs, including food, clothing, transportation, telephone, etc.;• a single parent with one child received $946 a month from the province (plus $422 in various federal tax credits and child benefits); And if the parent receives any child support, it is clawed back from their welfare.• a single person with ppmB (persons with persistent multiple barriers to employment) status receives $658 per month; and• a single person with PWD (person with disability) status receives $906 per month.$906 for a disabled person. $906. This is for someone who anyone but the harshest of conservative assholes can't blame for their situation. Do you know much rent goes for? A 1 bedroom apartment is about $700/mo. Are we really saying that disabled people must take a roommate? That we won't afford them the dignity of being allowed to live on their own if they desire? Fortunately, their meds are covered (except when they aren't!). Food isn't though. Or heat. Or telephone. Good luck with that.

And that's what we do for people who were born here. Not born here? Refugee? Well, we're sorry, but fuck you.

And that's just our domestic social policies. Don't even get me started on foreign issues. Or what we're doing to the environment. It's shameful.

So while I'm happy to live in a society in which I don't have to have my head covered to leave the house, where my husband can't beat me in front of a cop, where my daughter can and in fact must be educated, where we don't let people die from infections because they can't afford the ER, where gay people can marry the person they love, there is so much more we can do.

But we won't. Not with the KapitalistKonservativeKrapfest in power. Because greed trumps all with them. Greed of money and power. That is all they care about. And it's heartbreaking. So I don't celebrate Canada Day. I quietly rejoice to have been born in one of the best countries in the world, and quietly pray that everyone can step up and be better.