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Updated: 16 min 58 sec ago

Barbara Frum on How to get women elected.

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 14:48
In the October 1971 issue of _Chatelaine_ Barbara Frum wrote a short piece in her characteristic irreverent, droll style.  It was titled: "Insiders' tips on how to get women elected."
The last paragraph:Marry a man who's already there and become his widowA third of all the women who've ever been in Parliament got there on the sympathy vote, as widows.  One hard-eyed pro, who dismisses the ability of women to get into politics on their own and has been cynically successful running widows on the black-crepe ticket, says: "The only way you'll ever see a hundred women in the House is to provide a hundred rifles to the wives of sitting members, and then teach them how to shoot."
Huh.  Imagine publishing that, nowadays...?

On the other hand, jerks like Peter MacKay should be very, very afraid.
Grand merci to mon copain, who spotted the vintage _Chatelaine_ on my bookshelf and perused it, much to our shared amusement.

Take Your Foul Postcards and Go Home, It's Over

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 17:04
There is plenty to say about the brand-spanking-new Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

But for now, I want to focus on one exhibit, entitled "The Safety of Women."

The default position of the museum is stridently progressive. That factor alone will lead many to conclude it is biased and ignores the sentiments of many Canadians.

For example, in one gallery visitors will view videos depicting forceful pro-life and pro-choice arguments. The videos appear on screens above a circular table with digital tablets that allow visitors, upon completion of the videos, to vote on the issue -- for or against.

It's all fair save for the fact the subject of that exhibit is called The Safety of Women. It is a reference to the 1988 Supreme Court decision that found using the Criminal Code to deny a woman's access to safe abortion services violates her rights to "security of the person" under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The exhibit is factually accurate, and unfailingly fair. Having said that, the title of the exhibit leaves no doubt the museum is celebrating the SCOC decision as a victory for human rights. That alone will be viewed as offensive by those who condemn abortion.Let's repeat that, shall we? "[T]he museum is celebrating the SCOC decision as a victory for human rights."

A new museum funded in large part by the Canadian Harper government celebrates abortion rights.

Oh, and look at this.

Once the CMHR is open, the operating budget will be provided by the government of Canada, as the CMHR is a national museum. The estimated operating costs to the federal government are $22 million annually.Yep, that's right, fetus freaks. Your tax dollars will continue to be handed over by your friends the Harper Government to CELEBRATE abortion rights.

It's all over. The fetus freaks have lost. Decisively.

And while all things ain't hunky dory in Lawless Abortion Land, there is clearly no going back now.

Even the Harper Conservatives, so willing to meddle in areas outside their jurisdiction or remit, dare not mess with this museum exhibit.

Because it is the only fitting accompaniment to the life-work of a true hero, Dr. Morgentaler.



Whose life-work is now properly commemorated for all time. At taxpayer expense.


Image source.

Harry Potter and the cauldron of STIs...

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:58
That headline doesn't quite capture all the cheekiness, humour, irreverence and tongue-twisting (at times!) facts overload (but in a GOOD way) of an Insight Theatre *show*.  

You must attend one to get their infectious (ouch!) jokes and insightful moments.  I won't give away any punchlines; suffice to say JK Rowling's penchant for quirky names is amply explored in the naughty bits... err, skits about Sexually Transmitted Infections.  Hilarious, inspired and clever! 




The lively and talented writers/performers are adolescents who work with Planned Parenthood Ottawa staff to produce this amusing and informative show.

Last evening I spoke with Catherine Macnab and Lauren Dobson-Hughes who are respectively director and board president.  Insight Theatre is a gem in a crown of multi-faceted education and community outreach programs. We spoke about advocacy, the challenges of reproductive justice issues, pro-choice and The March for Lies, since the event is one that DJ! mines shamelessly for its unintended humour.  

Since hundreds and hundreds of Catholic Schools students who are bussed to Ottawa for the March wander about downtown Ottawa afterwards, volunteers wearing PPO shirts show up to give out information packets with its own PPO branded condoms in the ByWard Market, on Elgin Street and around Parliament Hill. 

The range of programs offered by PPO can be found here.

Unfortunately there are no videos posted yet from this year's repertoire, but here's a golden oldie from 2013:


To book a performance: all the information.

No Country for Old White Men

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 05:28
Or, Point and Laugh.
A group of former Liberal backbenchers is blasting Justin Trudeau’s “discriminatory” decision to call on all party MPs to vote in favour of abortion rights in Canada.



Many (most?) of these pathetic old misogynists and homophobes are former members of Liberals for Life, aka the Gang that Prompted Jean Chrétien to Over-ride Riding Association Takeovers Nominations.

Chief among them, of course, is Tom Wappel, an execrable POS if there ever was one. (Really, check the Wiki entry.)

Here at DJ! we're no great fans of Justin Trudeau, but you gotta love this.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, faced with an open letter from seven former Liberal MPs denouncing him for his stance on abortion, tweeted that the days "when old men get to decide what a woman does with her body are long gone."
True that those days are long gone, but those who can't accept it refuse to give up. So, the fight continues. Rallies across Canada for expanded and improved abortion access are planned for tomorrow, Saturday, September 20.

h/t for illustration.

Alba

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 08:52

I am not normally a supporter of adding more countries to the world's list of nominally independent countries. Or at the very least, I am usually ambivalent about it. While localism is sometimes fashionable in progressive circles, there's lots of reason to doubt its merits. [looks pointedly at south of Canadian border.] But: there are sometimes some merits. [looks again pointedly at south of Canadian border.]

Montreal Simon is disappointed at Canadian progressive bloggers for not being as vocal as he for #YesScotland. I admit, I haven't said as much on the subject as I could have. Canadian bloggers outside Québec, particularly anglophones, would have a not-unexpected negative reaction to separatist campaigns, a tendency whose origins I will not go into too much here, except to say that the most recent incarnation of a PQ government, at precisely the moment when a progressive stand against Ottawa made the most sense, instead decided to shift with disastrous results into a more ethnoculturally-focused footing.

But despite my general reluctance towards these things, I am inclined to wish for a yes vote in Scotland, even knowing that a yes vote would bring out a host of unresolved risks and problems and is not guaranteed necessarily to be everything that the #YesScotland campaign might hope it would be, at least in the short and medium terms. The reason for me to give the crucial Vala endorsement of the yes side is thus:

The UK, and London in particular, is in some sense the epicenter of a political dynamic that started in the 70s and has now almost fully played itself out. Nowhere in the world is the neoliberal dead end more visible than in the UK, for all that it possesses a more comprehensive social state than e.g. the USA---now almost an accident of history, because unlike Great Britain, the US actually has had a recent if very flawed expansion of its social state. But the UK is at a dead end. Of all the countries in Europe that should be considering leaving the EU---itself a flawed institution that has slowly turned itself into a nightmare---the UK is the last to have something to complain about, as it is not suffering the effects of the Eurozone. And yet, the biggest pressure to leave comes from people whose primary objection seems to be the EU's social standards and human rights protections!

Something's gotta give. The situation and ideological paralysis epitomized by an unbreakable consensus in Westminster (reflected throughout the world, but it seems particularly present there) cannot last forever. There will be a rupture. And there as a choice as to which kind of rupture it is. It seems to me that the first stone thrown can either be the formal ascendency of an explicitly chauvanistic and regressive English nationalism, or it can be an optimistic and progressive-minded Scottish civic nationalism. I fully realize that even under the latter, there can be nodules of darkness hiding behind blue and white. But nothing is perfect, and there are few better opportunities. I suspect the result will be end up being a few percentage points for the "No", but whatever the outcome, the UK will never be the same. Which, at this point, is something to be hoped. I know it's not fair to place burdens on liberatory movements, but if Québec sovereigntism can adopt a similar spirit once again, I'm now less against it than I might have been, because Ottawa too is trapped in the same London paralysis.

Had It With the Fords?

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 09:40
Do something.

Jude MacDonald (twitter) has been doing heroic work in trying to stop the fucking Fords' abuse of City Hall property and resources for political campaigning.

Such activity is verboten.

And it's pretty clear.

VII. ELECTION CAMPAIGN WORK

Members are required to follow the provisions of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996. No member shall use the facilities, equipment, supplies, services or other resources of the City (including Councillor newsletters and websites linked through the City’s website) for any election campaign or campaign-related activities. No member shall undertake campaign-related activities on City property during regular working hours unless permitted by City policy (e.g., all candidates meetings). No member shall use the services of persons for election-related purposes during hours in which those persons receive any compensation from the City.
According to Jude, the person responsible for maintaining proper conduct is the City Manager. Email: talktocitymanager@toronto.ca

I wrote to both my councillor and the City Manager.

You can too.

Find your councillor's contact information.

Here's what I wrote.


Dear City Manager/Councillor:

Mainly from Twitter -- the mainstream media does not seem to think this is worth reporting -- I have been watching for months the Fords misuse City Hall property and resources for political campaigning.

I realize that there is some leeway possible in interpreting what is campaigning and what is communicating but yesterday I believe there was an unequivocal case of blatantly illegal use of City resources.

Jeff Silverstein, former campaign staffer for Rob Ford and now apparently in the employ of Doug Ford, was seen entering the Mayor's office yesterday and spending some considerable time there with Doug and others. CP24 confirmed the sighting, along with many ordinary individuals.

The Mayor is in hospital and has withdrawn his candidacy for mayor.

Mr. Silverstein is not an employee of the City. There is zero possible justification for this action.

Doug Ford is continuing to abuse his position as brother of the mayor. Now that he is a candidate himself, it is time -- finally -- to take him to task and force him to stop.

City Hall staff must be instructed to follow protocol and inform the necessary officials when there are similar breaches of security.

I don't know what other measures can be taken, but they should bloody well be taken.

Thank you for your time.
And here's how a concerned citizen responded to my report on Twitter that I had done it.

.@TerryTowel1 At least I sent in a pissed-off dust-catcher. Not much we can do but I'm fucking well going to do it. #topoli

— Fern Hill (@fernhilldammit) September 16, 2014

The fucking Fords will continue to get away with egregious behaviour unless they're stopped.

And apparently, nobody but us citizens is willing to at least try.

Rally: Equal Access Now

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 06:46
It's never over. But judging by the increasing desperation of the Fetus Freaks, we may be winning (a little).

This Saturday, prochoice activists and allies are rallying in support of the current struggle for reproductive justice (pdf) in PEI and New Brunswick.
Reproductive Justice Rallies Across the Country: Sep 20

National Day of Action in Solidarity with New Brunswick and PEI: Equal Access Now!

Reproductive justice activists across the country will be rallying this Saturday September 20 to stand in solidarity with the citizens of New Brunswick and PEI, who lack access to abortion. The former Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton was forced to close in July for financial reasons, because the provincial government had refused to fund it for 20 years in violation of federal law and Supreme Court precedent. The province continues to refuse to improve access, even though many women are now being forced to travel out of province.

In Prince Edward Island, Health PEI blocked the application of three doctors willing to provide abortions at the Charlottetown hospital, saying "it was not in line with current government policies." But the PEI government does not have a policy on abortion, or any other excuse. The proposal was cost-neutral, and lack of a provider has been the only barrier to providing services on-Island.

Across Canada, especially in northern, rural, conservative, and low-income areas, there is often a lack of access to basic sexual and reproductive health services (SRH) and information. The most vulnerable usually pay the highest price, including youth, LGBTQ people, Aboriginals, refugees, racialized communities, people with disabilities or health issues, and those of low income. To achieve equality and justice, women and marginalized communities in NB, PEI, and across Canada are demanding recognition of their rights, and Equal Access Now to services.
More information and local contacts at the link.

Facebook pages:

National
Halifax
New Brunswick (several cities)
Charlottetown
Montreal
Toronto
Vancouver

Please share widely and attend if you can.

Respectability vs RESPECT: Part One

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 18:46
R•E•S•P•E•C•T  is of course:


Respectability is a different kettle of fish, however.  The very foundation of patriarchy is cemented with the premise that only some women are respectable - that is, worthy and deserving of respect - and others are NOT.

My co-blogger fern hill recently addressed the *stigma* of abortion. And we have many more blogposts at DJ! that challenge the notion that respectable women should grieve, do penance, and wear ashes on their head when a pregnancy - their OWN, in fact - is terminated. By choice.  Or when it's forcibly rejected by the body, an occurrence that happens regularly.

By way of an example, Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' disclosure of how and why she had two abortions, illustrates the division between what is considered a 'respectable' abortion and what is not. 

"For a woman to reveal she has had an abortion because she wanted one, because she couldn't emotionally sacrifice for another child, because she was remiss in her use of contraception, and, further, to declare she has only felt happiness towards her decision is truly groundbreaking. Davis' abortion narrative has helped diminish the social stigma surrounding abortion. But until the “bad” abortion stories are just as acceptable, pro-choice advocates have a long way to go."

From must-read: _Wendy Davis and the 'Good Abortion' Myth_ found here.

Respectability is at issue with regard to abortion because when women have sex, consensually or not, that can produce a pregnancy - unwanted or planned.

Sex as procreative versus sex as a recreative activity.  Also, sex as gender bigotry.

Yesterday some hack writer, compensating for whatever pathetic sense of inadequacy seized him, dismissed Naomi Klein and her recent publication in calculated, malevolent, gendered, barnyard animal terms.  




Not even bothering to address or refute her arguments, he deems her stupid. 



There you have it. But wait, here is more to consider.



As observed: "...the word cow is a put down to women but the term bull is considered a compliment for men." 

Note also in the exchange cited above, the comparison used when vilifying mayoral candidate Olivia Chow.  Her competitor John Tory said that she had "more positions than Masters and Johnson".  

"Respectability" is a toxic judgement passed on women and the last remaining double standard for judging women's choices and behaviours as indecent.  Feminists of African, Indigenous and Asian ancestry have identified the use of "respectability" politics as a weapon specifically used to target women of colour (WoC) for social opprobrium.

An incident which unfolded in Los Angeles last week gained publicity when Danièle Watts, who was intimidated and humiliated when police profiled her as prostitute, spoke up.  

Her experience is not unusual. As evident from the insult slung at Ms Chow by her opponent, these assumptions of impropriety about racialized women are claimed by men who reduce them to female beings unworthy of respect, with little or no resources other than the unbridled hyper-sexuality that is projected upon their bodies.

Next: Part Two will examine how respectability politics reinforce whorephobia as a partisan neo-conservative tactic to divide women and destroy solidarity among feminists. Read the blogpost from @kwetoday that I've linked to, above.

A Postive Abortion Story

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:27
[Guest post by Jaden Fitzherbert, cross-posted at NB Media Co-op.]

Here is my story.

I had a miscarriage before I made my abortion appointment. I realized that I was pregnant in my third year of university, when I got back from Christmas break. I had denied it for about a month and when I arrived back in Fredericton and still felt ill and hadn’t gotten my period I decided that I should take a pregnancy test.

I bussed to Wal-Mart, bought the test and ashamedly took the bus back to my UNB residence. How could I possibly be pregnant? I was well educated on safe sex practices, I was using birth control and my partner at the time was using condoms. I waited in my room, alone and terrified about seeing a positive pregnancy test, the few minutes that I waited seemed like an eternity. With shaky hands I checked the result. There it was, mocking almost, a positive pregnancy test. I was devastated. I wasn’t ready to become a mother, heck, I wasn’t even sure if I ever wanted to have kids. I knew in my heart that my current partner was not the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I knew that I did not want to raise a child with him.

There is this strange feeling, one that I’ve heard other women who have experienced unwanted pregnancies describe, a feeling that your body no longer belongs to you, that you are no longer in control of what is happening to you. I decided at that moment that I would call the Morgentaler Clinic in the morning and make an appointment for an abortion. I didn’t have the money to pay for it, but I also knew that it would take too long to get a referral from my doctor (assuming that he would give me the referral), and go through the public system, so I decided that I would somehow come up with the money to pay for the procedure.

I went to bed that night, crying, not because I was sad or felt guilty about my decision, but because I knew what an uphill battle it was going to be. I woke up in the middle of the night with intense cramps, I had no idea what was going on, but I spent the rest of the night in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. Finally I passed what I assume was the fetus. I distinctly remember feeling so incredibly relieved, I was no longer pregnant, and I did not have to try to come up with the money for my abortion. It was like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

At first I didn’t tell anyone about what had happened, not my then partner, not my parents and not my friends. I was afraid that people would judge me for feeling so happy and relieved that I had had a miscarriage. After a few months I started opening up about my experience and people shamed me -judged me. People told me that I should grieve the loss of my pregnancy, even though the pregnancy was unwanted to begin with. I stopped telling people, and went on with my life as if it had never happened. This was four years ago, and I’ve decided to no longer be silent.

Two years ago I started volunteering at the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic, and I was amazed by what I found there. I was welcomed, with open arms, into a community of people who were loving, compassionate and they taught me that I should not feel ashamed about my feelings towards my miscarriage and unwanted pregnancy, but most importantly, they taught me that, contrary to what I had been told by other people. I wasn’t broken.

I’ve never felt regret or grieved over my miscarriage, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point in my life, and for that I am eternally thankful and grateful. There are many women, who like me, are happy, healthy, who have no regrets and who do not grieve their abortions or their miscarriages, but a lot of the time our voices get lost in the shame that is projected on to us from the anti-choice movement that tells us if we don’t feel grief or regret we are not “real women” or we are terrible people.

To all the women out there who feel as though they are unable to speak out about their experience, you are loved and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not broken.

* * * * * *

Here at DJ! we've written often about the shameful and illegal abortion access situation in New Brunswick.

We've also written about the effects of stigmatization of abortion.

Abortion is a normal part of women's lives. It is an ordinary, safe medical procedure. There should be NO barriers and NO stigma to it.

There is a general provincial election in New Brunswick on September 22. Will politicians listen to the good sense of the people? Or will they continue to treat New Brunswickers like irresponsible children?

Stay tuned.

By the way, DAMMIT JANET! welcomes abortion stories. They are common and we will print yours, with or without your name.

Wacking the Pinãta

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 06:00
C36 — the Harper government, with its usual doublespeak flair, titles it the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act — is just one MASSIVE pinãta of a Bill.  And when it is whacked, all sorts of goodies come tumbling out. Like Don the Plumber's John School™ - but more on that, later.

No no no.  This pinãta is NOT what you think it is.  Get your mind OUT of the gutter.

This pinãta was previously a commemorative War of 1812™ genuine papier mâché artillery cannon replica produced for its never-ending celebrations and now recycled by the ever-so thrifty Harper government. It was spray-painted Barbie™ pink to please the ladies. 

"What's in the C36 pinãta?" you may ask.  Although it was thoroughly wacked at the House of Commons Justice Committee proceedings, it appears that more goodies are popping out for the Senate committee studying the bill.

MacKay, speaking to reporters, said the Conservative government decided to take a calculated risk that any Charter challenge would ultimately fail.

That’s largely because, he said, the law is a legal shift towards outlawing the purchase of sex and viewing prostitution as the exploitation of “vulnerable” women, not the nuisance targeted under the now-unconstitutional laws against street prostitution or bawdy houses. 

The bill doesn’t “enable prostitution” but it will still allow those who “claim to freely choose” prostitution to do so safely, work indoors or hire body guards, said MacKay. It gives “legal immunity” to prostitutes, and so directly “responds to” the Supreme Court of Canada’s concerns in its Bedford ruling in December, MacKay told a Senate committee studying the amended bill. [...]

MacKay said he made his own assessment after discussions with “other lawyers and judges.” He shrugged off the prospect of more court battles.

“I’ve been around this place a while,” MacKay said. “I’ve practiced law, I’ve argued both for and against certain Charter submissions. But I don’t suffer from Charter constipation.”

So. The unCONstipated Minister for Lady Parts and Weaponry Peter MacKay claims that sexworkers will get "legal immunity". 

Some senators, who are also lawyers, are not so sure how that "legal immunity" would apply.  

Wait!!! Here's a thought. Why can't the C36 pinãta offer "legal immunity" to ALL women and girls who suffer any form of sexualized violence? Most harassment and rape isn't perpetrated by clients or johns. Shouldn't every woman and every girl be *rescued* from daily sexualized violence too?

One man speaking to senators was adamant that clients should all attend John School; his contention was that "fathers and grandfathers" who buy sex services are completely transformed by the program.  Presumably none of them ever sexually harass or violate ANY woman EVER again.

(Hell, why not send every Tom, Dick or Harry to John School?  That's the ticket; compel all boys and men to complete this program; those who actually don't coerce women (or pay them) to have sex can mentor the ones who do.  Surely that's the logical outcome to C36, if the premise is actually what the Cons pretend it is.... Aaaaand, make sure CPC MP Bob Dechert is sitting in a desk at the front.)

Then there's senator Plett — so thoroughly repulsed and disgusted by sexwork that he would deprive sexworkers, specially those who have chosen this work, of legal protection and their right to safety. 


Employees in high-injury-risk occupations as varied as firefighters, healthcare professionals, cops, stunt performers, soldiers and pro athletes choose their work because of the high income, the benefits and the opportunities they derive from it.  But Plett doesn't see any of that; he is affronted that defiant women won't be shamed nor called victims, thus he wants them to be threatened, endangered and harmed.


Sour grapes! Bitter candy! Mouldy sweets! Senator Donald Plett wants those BAD women who don't want want to be rescued, PUNISHED!


My co-blogger fern hill looked into Plett's background. Hint: he's no lawyer but some of his best Con friends are...

The biggest, sparkliest, juiciest goody in the C36 pinãta is that mythical whopping 20 Million $$$ that would ostensibly fund "rescue" programs that Evangelicals and Prohibitionists who support the bill would be awarded.  And Con MP Joy Smith's Foundation would get a chunk of that money too, with no pesky CRA audits I bet!

My suggestion: 


The Senate committee continues to hears presentations today.

In case you've missed it, go read @kwetoday's brief to the Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs, here.  It exposes what a hollow, empty sham C36 really is.