Thoughts about December 14

Years ago, after the Polytechnique Massacre, when there was discussion as to what to do about what seemed, at the time, to be an overwhelming amount of violence against women (honestly, at the time, it seemed like once a week there was a man who’d murdered his wife or wife and kids), I was told that as a person who has experienced violence that I was not “able” to talk intelligently on the subject as I would be “too emotional”. Because who you want to discuss the ramifications of violence would be those who have NOT experienced it–obviously they can be oh-so-much more rational on the subject.

Yeah, try again.

When 9/11 happened, the news, all the media were filled with tales of the survivors and the victims. People who had not been in New York or Washington told poignant stories about how they felt it had happened to them directly, even if they had no direct connection to any of it. All of America mourned–and expected the world to mourn with them. Remember the Olympics when the US team used a 9/11 flag as the flag they brought into the Opening Ceremonies, prompting the citizens of other countries to point out that the US was not the only country to experience that kind of terror or mass-death on their own soil…

But the constant message was that bad things had happened to American citizens, and that the US needed to find the people who had made those things happen and stop them. The victims’ relatives and survivors were front and centre of the news cycle so we could hear their stories and become saddened, enraged and motivated anew.

And yes, we understood that airplanes could not be blamed for what had been done–but the fact that those terrorists had been able to take airplanes and use them as weapons was completely understood and was dealt with. We see that today every time we try to travel by air when we encounter security, when we have to produce our passports to cross the border (something not needed to travel from Canada to the US before 9/11). The attitude of the US government was that, never again, will someone be able to use an airplane as a weapon to kill people.

And yet…

Every single day someone takes a gun and uses it against someone else. And occasionally, one of those someones uses it to harm many, many people, fully aware that they are capable of doing so, fully planning to do so. How many times have we read of these shooters carefully stockpiling their weapons and their ammunition?

Let’s put every single relative of a Newton, Connecticut victim front-and-centre in the news cycle. Let’s have them stand in front of the White House with signs showing photos of their relatives. Let’s put the photos of every single one of those children all over the media for all of those in the American government to see. Let’s watch them cry–over and over again.

Then tell them no, that gun control is not a good thing.

Keiren

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So-and-so is gay? So What?

Is it good and wonderful to be able to say, with a carefully timed eye-roll, “so-and-so is gay? And this is news because?” and other comments all designed to indicate how very much you don’t care? How very much YOU You Straight Cis-gendered Person You don’t care? And, I’m beginning to suspect…you man you.

Women’s suffrage, women’s liberation in North America did not come about because those in power–ie, men–decided to recognise the rights of women. It came about because there were women brave enough to come forward, to be public, and to live their beliefs publicly, and through their work, through the sheer numbers of women working together, bringing like-minded men in with them, women won the right to vote, the right to work…and as women became more and more visible in the workplace, the old prejudices slowly fell (mostly) away and it became accepted that women could work as well and as intelligently as any man.

Now, the fight on is for LGBTQ rights. So when a public person comes out and self-identifies as LGBTQ it IS news. Just because Neil Patrick Harris came out and is beloved does not mean that it’s all over–there is no more “need” for anyone to come out. It is STILL news.  Because statistics show that the number of LGBTQ-related hate crimes went UP in 2011, and some of those statistics were amongst the highest numbers recorded. Because LGBTQ teenagers are still being bullied and some are committing suicide because of it (still at numbers statistically significantly higher than that for straight-identifying kids). Because every single day, every single hour, every single minute there is someone who has reason to NOT FEEL SAFE because of their sexual identity as LGBTQ.

So why does it still matter that someone comes out? Why someone with an important, highly visible career, who has the respect of millions, who has fanclubs and admirers, why does it matter if that person says, “I’m gay”…and all the haters, all the bigots, all the homophobes have to realise that that public person is STILL the very same person they were the moment before that announcement? Why does it matter to have the world be filled with LGBTQ people so that some kid living in a small town, in a suburb, out in the country, who thinks “There is no one else who feels like I do, who could understand this” can look and think that not only are there people like them…there are SUCCESSFUL HAPPY PEOPLE like them. People who survived.

As Andrew Sullivan wrote today, “The visibility of gay people is one of the core means for our equality.” And in his email response to Andrew, Anderson Cooper wrote, “I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible.”

I understand that you are not a bigot, and that you are trying to show how you are completely accepting and that you don’t judge a person by their sexual identity… but, to me,  this is becoming the new version of “Skin colour doesn’t matter to me; I don’t see skin colour.” which reeks of being code for “I’m going to pretend you’re not a different colour from me–isn’t that nice of me to treat you like that?” I have always corrected people who say that line to me, and explain that what they mean to say is, “I do not judge a person by the colour of their skin.” Unless you have face blindness or a most unusual form of colour blindness, you see colour, and you see skin colour…and seeing skin colour is not wrong. You are simply seeing something that is…

And to know a person is LGBTQ does not change who that person is. It simply adds a piece to your knowledge of them, and yes, to you it may not be a significant or even interesting piece. And if it truly doesn’t matter to you, then it doesn’t matter to you. But you are far from the only person in this world.  In 2012, in the world in which we live today, in a world where there is an American election where one party is utterly against rights for LGBTQ persons, it utterly matters. In a world where kids still go to school in fear of being harassed for being LGBTQ, it matters.

Somewhere, there’s a kid with a tiny spark of hope, with a sense that they are just a little less alone in the world. And somewhere there’s a homophobe who has a tiny moment of uncertainty because that public figure they’ve always admired is LGBTQ…and it makes them question the validity of their hatred.

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“Moms: ‘I can’t afford to work’”

Yep, I’m in full-on rant mode…read on only if you have a strong coffee by your side.

(from an article on CNN.com, Moms:  I can’t afford to work)

“In 2010, the cost of putting two children in child care exceeded median annual rent payments in every state, according to a report by Child Care Aware of America.”

An article about the cost of childcare and the reality that there are families who cannot afford to have a mother go out of the house to work until their kids are of an age where they don’t need care.

All the talk about Ann Romney the last few weeks prompted so many articles about working mothers and how ‘most’ mothers work outside the home. Stats say 70% apparently…but anyone quoting the stats didn’t cite the age of the children, and that’s pretty damned relevant. Childcare is FREAKING EXPENSIVE. When this is pointed out the suggestions are “get a neighbour or a family member to babysit” because, of course, every one has one of THOSE just waiting around to get asked. Child care is a significant chunk of time and energy—many a grandmother loves the grandkids but is happy to be past the stage of constant childcare…not every one is itching to start up again. And caring for someone else’s child? That’s a full-time job. Called childcare. Why would you expect that a neighbour, a friend or a relative has eight-ten hours of time to GIVE you because you can’t afford to pay someone else.

And don’t cite how easy it is to get home daycare providers—with the lack of supervision, that many of them will take lots of kids in order to make some amount of money themselves, and myriad more issues. I did home daycare myself for a while—in the GTA (Ontario, Canada) standard rates were $135/week per child. That was from 8am-6pm. So…$27 a day, which means $2.70 an hour. At a time when the minimum wage in Ontario was $10, and babysitting rates were $5-10/hour depending on the number of kids. So, less than $3 an hour to babysit someone else’s child. And that included feeding them lunch and two snacks. Which cost money. And when you babysit someone else’s child you’re expected to provide a lot more attention than you might for your own children (who you can leave to entertain themselves while you do the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning, etc. etc.). So, you might be able to find someone who enjoys living in that kind of near-poverty, but if you do find someone to do home daycare—even at $135 a week, that’s $540 a month.

I get so bloody tired of the young twentysomething women cheerfully snarking about women who stay home with their kids as being ‘privileged’ or ‘lazy’ or ‘stupid’ or variations there of.

Or—the other big one is “when I was a kid…” There are a lot of stories of how they were latch-key kids and their mothers (who are clearly better people than all those lazy, stupid stay-at-homes using their kids as an excuse to not get a job) went to work and worked endless endless hours. The stories always end with “and I turned out all right.”

‘All right”—but presumptuous and rude. For starters—don’t know about elsewhere, but in Ontario it’s illegal to leave kids under the age of 10 home alone. And there is considerable societal pressure for more parental supervision than most of us had as kids. At my kids’ primary school, kids in grades K-gr3 are not even “released” to go home unless it’s onto a bus or in the care of a grownup. At the start of the year, we have to fill out a form as to what people are ‘allowed’ to pick up our kid. The school will not release children to walk by themselves, even if the parents wish it to be so (means there’s a lot of high school students who get their volunteer hours requirement filled by walking kids home).

Obviously, this is a subject that ALWAYS makes me angry—because for me it comes down to this…why is it okay for someone else to look after my kids because I pay them and it’s their job, but if I do it, it’s because I am too lazy, stupid, privileged or unmotivated to get a job? Why is there this idea that looking after your own children is not actually work?!

I have said on many occasions to people who have been rude about me being home with my kids, “If what I do isn’t work, then you are completely overpaying your childcare provider and your cleaning person.”

(And I haven’t even started on how depressing it is to end up as a stay-at-home mother for whatever reason and then find, that once your kids are old enough to not need care that it is well-nigh impossible to get a job. I have friends with multiple degrees and much experience who can’t get hired. When you’re out of the workforce for any amount of time, it does not look good on an application. Saying it’s because you stayed at home with your kids just means that the employer thinks, “Oh, so if your kid gets sick, then you’ll be calling to tell me you can’t come in.”

Or, after years out of the workforce, most of us do not have appropriate clothes for an office anymore, even in a world where office wear is much more casual than it once was. I have friends who apply for jobs in the business world then are completely stymied by not having the money for an appropriate wardrobe.)

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Palate Cleanser

Fluffy baby bunny

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Redux

I’ve had more than a few people tell me that they are shocked by the responses of people they know, people they call friends, to the Tommy Jordan video. (Including quite a number of private messages as people start to feel overwhelmed by that response.) So much of that response to this is “Yes!! Way to tell off a privileged snotty teenager! Yeah, man!”

Consider this…what if he had found out out that his wife had emailed friends and badmouthed him. A wife should have respect for her partner right? Respect in a marriage is one of the biggies…  So, now imagine him shooting her laptop and explaining it’s because she disprespected him…suddenly, it’s a lot less funny and admirable. Suddenly, it’s creepy, and violent and frightening.

Why does it make it acceptable because it’s his child? Why does his parenting methodology require bullets to teach his child respect? Continue reading

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Parenting for the Applause

Ya know…when I posted the vid yesterday of Tommy Jordan shooting his daughter’s laptop (again–in retaliation for something she said on Facebook) I made the comment to a few people that really it’s someone not employing consistent parenting who suddenly goes to an extreme when punishment is needed (he mentions that she’s just ‘come off’ a three-month grounding for ‘something like this’ leaving one with the impression that it, too,  was mouthing off on the internet. THREE MONTHS).

We’ve all been there–let something go day after day after day and then, either had our kid not appreciate our leniency or else been ashamed that we’ve been lenient because our kid mouths off to us thinking that they can get away with it, or because someone else makes comments on it, and then we wildly overreact. (We’ve all been there–those of us who aren’t the perfect parents, that is. See Barbara Coloroso, and her theory of parenting techniques as being jelly-fish, brick wall and those of us who are jelly-fish right up until it’s not convenient anymore and then we brick-wall all over the poor kids. Those are the people who suddenly start yelling that they’re grounding the kid FOREVER and taking away ALL YOUR PRIVILEGES.) Continue reading

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FACEBOOK PARENTING: for the parent who forgot who was supposed to be the grown-up

So, a video has gone viral today of a father punishing his daughter for a post she put up on FB about him and what she saw as her unfair life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl1ujzRidmU&list=UU6OSygSHWSo4pbV5ttl2YPg&index=1&feature=plcp

A teenaged girl, who knew her parents couldn’t read her Facebook status updates, bitched about her parents nastily on Facebook. And her friends commented. And Daddy “You should remember that I’m an IT guy” found out.

I posted this on FB myself because I was actually shocked and appalled by it. The conclusion (SPOILER ALERT—he SHOOTS her laptop and tells her that she’s off electronics for the foreseeable future and, oh yeah, she has to pay him back for the bullets) really stunned me. But there are those who have been praising him for giving his daughter a wake-up call from her delusions of “privilege”.

So…

Continue reading

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