December 6

Years and years ago, the world of information was very different than it is today. Today, with the internet, we hear every single detail of a news story to the point of boredom; news reporters are forced to hunt down the smallest minutiae to keep the audience tuned in and listening and watching. But twenty-five years ago, we got our news from television and radio and newspapers… When a major story broke, we had to wait for updates, we had to wait for the next day’s paper (or the afternoon edition) to read the ‘whole’ story.

Twenty five years on, we still don’t have the whole story of the Montreal Massacre. Although we have the facts, we don’t have the acknowledgement of what those facts mean. From the beginning, the argument has always been in place that feminists were trying to “use” the Montreal Massacre for their own agenda, that they were politicising it. And that in so doing, they were doing a disservice to the women themselves, not honouring them as victims, because they might not have been feminists. That the killer didn’t care to make that distinction is somehow not considered. That he stormed through the school, into a classroom of engineering students, and demanded that the male students leave announcing that he was going to kill all the feminists—which to him, meant only the women students, women who dared to stand out by taking classes previously considered only the purview of men.

He left behind a letter in which he was completely clear as to his intent. The letter listed nineteen prominent feminists he had wished to kill and he specified that only time had saved them from an attempt—that he had to content himself with the feminists he would kill at L’Ecole Polytechnique. He himself regarded it as a political action and said as much in his letter. He killed fourteen women, wounded ten others and wounded four men.

Earlier this year, a teenaged boy made a video and an emailed letter before he carried out his announced shooting spree, with his intention to choose women and girls as his victims. As people found out about the video, his time spent on Men’s Rights Activists forums, about his letter, women began discussing this as a feminist issue, as a women’s issue: a male who felt he had a right to female companionship and affection, who felt he had been deprived of it by women, who decided to kill women in retaliation. As with the Montreal killings, the media and others used the fact that there had been male victims to negate his own stated intention, to “prove” that this could not have been a crime motivated by hatred of women. Men began using the hashtag #NotAllMen in their protests—a pre-existing hashtag designed to undercut women’s comments about sexism, misogyny and treatment by men. The response by women was to create #YesAllWomen and to encourage women to cite the various times they had found themselves afraid or in danger because of men, because of sexism and misogyny.

To women it is obvious that the Montreal Massacre, and similar crimes, are about feminism, about men’s fears and anger over women not living their lives by men’s rules or beliefs, but as autonomous creatures able to make their own decisions, to live their own lives. But there are those who argue that these murders have nothing to do with sexism, with fear of feminism. To them, a man yelling that he wanted only feminists left in a room so that he could kill them all, who left a letter specifying that he wanted to kill feminists as he felt that they had ruined his life—that did not mean that the murders were about women and feminists, it was merely just the way it worked out that only women had been murdered.

When it is pointed out that his very words, written and spoken, indicated that his intention was to kill feminists, the negating argument is that, “But not all those women were feminists.” When it is then argued that this was very clearly a crime against women, and women were killed, the answer is “there were men who were shot too.”

In the last year I’ve watched as women in gaming contend with vicious death and rape threats on their social media. I’ve watched as people have gone from arguing that those behind the threats are not to be taken seriously, to accusing the women of making up the threats, to suggesting that the women are intentionally overreacting for attention—they enjoy being victimized. I’ve watched as Jian Ghomeshi likened his first accuser as a jealous vindictive ex-girlfriend and even as the number of accusers began to grow, there are those who say, “These are women who just want attention. Stars can’t avoid these kind of women trying to use them. These women like portraying themselves as victims.” And as the list of Cosby accusers grows ever larger, there are still those arguing that these, too, are women just looking for attention, just looking to use his fame for their own glory…that they like to portray themselves as victims.

We can’t ask the women of the December 6 massacre how it feels to be victims. We can’t ask them if they enjoy it, if they enjoy the attention they get every year. We can’t ask them how it felt to be brave young women in an engineering program, toughing it out with all the men. We can’t ask them how it felt to watch as an armed man came into their classroom, lined them all up and then insisted that all the male students leave because he only wanted to kill the women, the feminists. We can’t ask them how it felt to die because of their gender.

The killer murdered fourteen women at L’Ecole Polytechnique. He killed women because he intended to kill women. He killed women because he assumed that they were feminists—because who but a feminist would have inserted herself into what he saw as the man’s world. He assumed that only women would be feminists—because he couldn’t imagine a man supporting a woman’s right to equal treatment in a man’s world.

When feminists argue that the Montreal Massacre is a feminist issue we are not dishonouring them—we are acknowledging that they died because they were women. We are acknowledging that they died because the killer assumed them to be femniists. We are honouring them and their deaths. To deny any of it is to deny their very existence as women…and their very deaths as women.

 

Keiren

This woman opines. Again. About opinions. Again.

(another reblog from Tumblr…hoping to just establish this blog as the place for writing)

There are probably some guys who are feeling strangely smug right now and thinking, “I wonder if Keiren sees what’s happening to Anita Sarkeesian and realises THAT’S a REAL problem—not some artist/blogger wanting to have an opinion and having male comic pros tell her she’s wrong.” And contenting themselves with this thought, thinking, “I can’t say that to her because well…she’ll just be all feminist and stuff.”

And you’d be correct.

THIS is what gets me about some of the people (ie, “men”, and yes NOT ALL MEN!) I’ve been trying to engage in conversation—okay, so you can see the extreme version of what women go through and most of you are willing to be standup guys and say THIS is unacceptable, but you’re completely unable to see that you contribute daily to the toxic environment that enables this extreme reaction. These guys don’t come out of thin air…they’re not hiding in their closets saying these things to themselves… to them this is just an extension of other conversations they’re having about women and women’s opinions.

These guys, generally, would never think of actually committing this violence…but they think of the threats as being the logical extension of the other aggressive actions/thoughts they get to have every day without being checked.

I’ve seen many of you express that this particular guy must be mentally ill to tweet those things. Because after all, what he is saying is much worse than calling women with opinions, “hysterical sarcastic Social Justice Warriors just out to take all the fun out of things for men”, or “hysterical feminazis”, people who “just need to complain”. Those are the mildest end of this spectrum.

Sometimes, when I listen to my teenagers get into a loud argument about something, I will call time on it before it gets to its conclusion. Ty will ask me why, “They weren’t hurting each other—they get to talk.” And my explanation is always the same, “I know how this goes—it starts off harmlessly, but if they keep that energy going, eventually they get so caught up in wanting to be the ‘winner’, to be ‘right’, that it will get vicious and potentially aggressive.” They haven’t yet learned how to have a calm respectful discussion—they have to be taught that. They learn by being taught.

I don’t want to have to tell my kids (and by extension, others), “here’s why you should not have threatened that person. Here’s why you did NOT get to hit them.” I want people to know that they should not live in an environment where that seems like a logical end to what should simply be a discussion, however vigorous, or passionate.

Wherein I propose the radical idea that women are allowed to have opinions. And that no matter how long men attempt to keep the argument going with me, sorry gentlemen: “shut up”is NOT an opinion so no YOU aren’t entitled to THAT one. (originally posted as: A woman wrote this. Yes I’m a woman. And I wrote this. It contains opinions.)

(This was originally written and posted on August 30, 2014, on my Tumblr,  in response to the critique of Karine Charlebois’ redraw of Milo Manara’s now infamous Spider-Woman cover. It’s very “inside-baseball” for those not in the comics world, but still relevant to the idea “Women get to have opinions.”)

A woman wrote this. Yes I’m a woman. And I wrote this. It contains opinions.

Been asked for my opinion (in phone calls and PMs I’ve gotten) and I’ve pointed out that I’ve tried to not comment on ‘the’ cover directly (I’m sure I slipped up somewhere! Gotta be honest, I giggle so hard every time I see it that it’s hard to put a thought together). My entire point, my near-constant argument in life, is that people get to have opinions… and by people, I mean “women”.

Short version:  most women are terrified to speak out loud and express an opinion. They are utterly petrified to do so when they are addressing issues of women, sexism and feminism. The internet has emboldened women to speak out more—but it has also enabled men to easily put more effort into silencing them, or threatening them into silence. When I say “terrified” I mean TERRIFIED. All of you were able to grasp how horrible it was when Janelle Assellin wrote about the death and rape threats she gets…none of you seem to get that the constant onslaught of mockery, sneering and general disrespect is equally exhausting. (Do consider, gentlemen:  You find a woman daring to criticise a working comics pro or illustrator as “disrespectful”, appalling, etc. but you have utterly no problem with mocking her or her defenders across the internet and starting memes to continue that mocking. She’s not entitled to her opinion…so she’s entitled to YOURS telling her that.) Most women I know fear having that spill into public encounters with these men, and having to work or socialise in now-toxic environments. To that end, I have had many private talks with women genuinely upset with the online discussion about the cover, or the levels of vitriol found in the social media accounts of men, even comics pros, they admire. Thus, they are fearful to engage.

The first argument is, of course, that YOU are equally entitled to your opinion. Yes. My complaint is when you decide that YOUR opinion means that no one else is entitled to THEIRS. You wish them to know that they are not entitled to express it…and if they do, by golly, you’re gonna make them regret it. And if they keep expressing their opinion…you will not once say, “Of course you’re allowed your opinion.” And generally, you WILL not be the one to back off on an argument. In a moment of generosity, some of you may offer the olive branch of “here’s what you’re allowed to say in order to have an opinion.”

There are those who will insist that they are not being sexist at all about the re-draw AND the criticism by others—for “context”, gentlemen, posted on a blog devoted to showing how women COULD be portrayed to be strong, and yes sometimes sexy, superheroes, without being completely sexualised only for the male gaze. NOT for a single moment, a blog devoted to taking down an artist who apparently some regard as being equivalent to some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. (Golly, I AM starting to wonder what y’all think of yourself and your abilities.) But that rings hollow when your initial response (some variation of “it’s completely disrespectful to redraw someone’s work”**) is followed up by yourself or those who talk with you commenting on how the reaction is ONLY from

1) Amateurs. Really? Someone should talk to Charlebois’ employers and tell them to put a stop to her paycheque—whoops! Too late, she’s already done the work.

2) feminazis. Golly, a term that Rush Limbaugh coined because he couldn’t think of any other way to make fun of Hillary Clinton (and other prominent women) than to suggest that an intelligent thinking political woman was a terrifying thing.

3) Women. Women are famously prudes—every man knows that women are terrified of sex. Okay, maybe they’re not terrified of sex…but they hate women (or images of women) who are sexier than they are. Because those images they criticise are obviously sexier than themselves or why would they get upset? If they were hot, they would be perfectly okay. (Once upon a time, the term used would have been “man-haters”, “lesbians” or, the classic, “dykes”.)

4) Those who don’t appreciate “European artists”. This is code for “anyone from North America is a prude who is terrified of nudity or sexuality, except me, because I’m aware of European illustrators.”  It’s the comic book version of being a wine snob. This is particularly quick to be used if the speaker is not from North America, or doesn’t have any British heritage. This is taken to be such a given that no one will even argue with the speaker. And generally, men will fling themselves to line up behind the speaker announcing just how long they too, have been aware of European illustrators so everyone knows that they are on the side of right. (I can’t count how many times certain comics creators have offered to show me their work…”Oh, but you’ll be bothered by the nudity.”)***

5). Men who are terrified to let women know that they like to look at images of sexy women. Just saw someone self-importantly intone that men who claim to not like such images are “the new castrati”. Amusing that men are suddenly a homeogenous ‘whole’ entity who will all have exactly the same interests—at least for the purposes of this issue.

6). Feminists. Feminists actually are different than feminazis. In this case, they are all members of that shadowy conspiracy group, The Great Feminist Cabal That Secretly Rules The World and Is Out To Ruin The Lives of All Men. People who don’t like MRAs don’t appreciate that, as the MRAs are quick to point out, THEY are the only ones aware of this vast conspiracy group and its plans to take down all men everywhere. Without them and their blogs, you would still think that women are oppressed and need laws to protect them or give them civil rights.

7). All the OTHER women. This beauty is used by that one girl who “isn’t like all the other girls.” Or it’s used by the man who says, “I have a woman friend who says…”  This is code for “woman we like because she proves our point and negates the views of all other women.” Although the opinion of one white man never ever negates the opinions of other white men, the opinions of one member of a (perceived) minority group ALWAYS trumps all other members of that group. (See, for example, Fox News getting that one African American on a show who will confirm all white fears of “the angry black man”. Also? Almost all of Camille Paglia’s career as a self-described “dissident feminist”. aka “not like the other girls”.)

And? Don’t even try the “well we have to counter the criticsm—they just don’t have the skills of the master” bullshit. Context is everything—you haven’t been to Karine Charlebois’ blog and read through it or given it the basic cursory glance to find out the point of her criticism. Once you are able to grasp that one—you’re done. It’s not a fine art review, it’s not a comics review, it’s a feminist critique of how women are portrayed in comics. If someone was criticising how African Americans are portrayed in a comic, on a site devoted to showing how those portrayals could be bettered, you would think twice before jumping in to demand that person have an equal art or writing career to the creators being assessed. In fact, I’m not sure YOU are able to criticise any of these posts or redraws unless you are a feminist woman, or have a background in feminist theory and women’s social history.

Once upon a time, comics creators used to wait eagerly for reviews of their work, negative or positive, to see what others thought of it. They waited for the fans to comment to see how the work was being received. Now, thanks to the Escher Girls site, and Karine Charlebois, comics creators have finally let the world know that no one is allowed to ever post an appraisal unless they have EXACTLY the same skills and/or career and/or body of work of the person they are appraising. Luckily, I don’t have the time to go through any comics creators’ social media accounts to copy/paste all their tv show/movie/music and, yes, even comics opinions.

To those who will try, still, to argue that it’s “disrespectful” to do redraws… Really? Every woman who speaks out loud knows that if she expresses an opinion contrary to that of men, someone will invariably demand that she provide “proof”. Men don’t have to provide proof—their opinion is truth enough. When the women oblige—because if they don’t it’s because they don’t “really” believe it, they’ve just been fooled by feminists into thinking they have to talk like that—their proof is almost without exception universally mocked. Men are chefs…women are cooks. Women are not considered to have the same level of craft or experience of the men in any discussion. Even if the discussion is about the woman herself and a specific experience she had—unless the man has some way of experiencing exactly the same thing, the woman’s opinion is invalid. A woman’s experience is always coloured by emotion; men are the rational ones.

And further to the issue of “disrespect”, the “How dare they do this to Manara” defense. Yep, Milo Manara’s ego is so weak and frail that he will barely survive the trauma of this redraw without you to defend him…

I’m not going to even attempt the “it’s just people looking for the latest controversy” or “wow, it’s so tiresome having women complain about this stuff EVERY SINGLE TIME” or “Wow, ladies, THIS is what you choose to complain about.” Golly, gentlemen—so sorry you’re exhausted having to listen to women talk. That IS difficult, ain’t it?

Finally? It really doesn’t matter what I, or any other woman or feminist man thinks… because golly, y’all are moving that goalpost**** around so much that I’m positively dizzy trying to keep up with where it is now. But, I’m very aware of where I would like to put it…

**Apparently, this rule doesn’t apply if the artwork is by Rob Liefeld, Jim Ballantyne or Randy Queen.

***Pretty sure more than a few people had to delete and retype their comments when they discovered that Charlebois is French-Cdn…for non-Canucks, famously, the “Europeans of Canada”. As someone with a very large contingent of Quebecois relatives, lemme point out that it is almost SOP to dismiss Anglo comments of any sort about any “sexy” or nude image as being Canadian prudery.  

****Most of the goalpost-moving arguments are so dumb they don’t really deserve mention. But if I mention them, perhaps no one will even try…

       a) So, there’s “he’s an old man and this is what he does” argument. Yeah, no one is arguing that—they’re arguing the final image. 

       b) My personal favourite is the “What did you expect getting Milo Manara to do a cover?!”—usually followed by some version of typed laughter. Ummm…I’ve checked my bank account and I have definitely NOT authorised any payments to Manara…so I’m pretty sure I didn’t “get” him. 

       c) You’re not allowed to criticise the artist for doing what he does you have to criticise Marvel for hiring him. And thus,any and all reviews of anything have been completely negated as you can’t criticise anyone for doing the thing they do. 

Sometimes a shirt is not just a shirt…

Years and years and many more years ago… Sesame Street used to have a running bit about how Big Bird would have an fun encounter with his new friend Snuffleupagus, just the two of them. But when any of the adults from the Street came by, Snuffy had disappeared from sight. Poor Big Bird! All the kids knew that he was telling the truth but those silly grownups thought he was making it up.

Sesame Street’s content and storylines are assessed by children’s psychologists and educational specialists to make sure that the show is giving children a safe world to experience. It was soon suggested that although it seemed amusing to have only Big Bird see Snuffy—supporting a child’s fantasy world—the message kids were really getting was that the adults only believe what they see in front of them. That grownups need proof of the strange, the unbelievable, the different. And in a world where there were kids struggling to talk about the abuse they suffered from some grownups, this seemed a bad and dangerous message. Very quickly, Snuffleupagus became a highly visible member of Sesame Street, interacting with all the other people and muppets who lived there.

Every day, women deal with their own version of Snuffy…but instead of a silly oversized furry monster, it’s this overwhelming insidious one called misogyny…sexism. It seems to always be around somewhere, and yet when we point it out, it turns out that we are the only ones who can see this mystery monster. Occasionally, we luck out and the monster leaves behind highly visible evidence that no one can deny—death and rape threats on the internet, for example. The doubters proclaim their horror at this evidence, they announce their solidarity with women, they denounce the big horrible monster of misogyny; and they settle back content that they’ve slain the monster and there’s no more work to do.

Sometimes, women dare to continue discussing that set of evidence—but there is always a point at which the backlash begins, “Are we STILL talking about this?” Because although it is possible to discuss the finer nuances of Star Trek and Star Wars for decades, it only takes a good Twitter user an hour or so to solve sexism. They say, “Hey men—don’t do this. We don’t like it.” And it is all fixed. It’s time for a new conversation.

Then, some women will point out the next set of evidence. If it’s as equally shocking as death and rape threats, there’s a good chance that it will generate an equal sense of outrage and an equal amount of conversation. But if it’s something like a group of women being targeted and shot, if it’s an article about the latest missing and/or murdered aboriginal woman, there will be no clear consensus. There will be much discussion about how it’s just outrage journalism, women choosing to be upset, women trying to make things about their gender when it’s really just about the victim—one woman, NotAllWomen.

And, if the evidence the women cite is just another example of everyday plain ol’ sexism—then the group who is able to understand see the monster is very small indeed.

This week, the story that gripped the internet was of a lander which successfully landed on a comet and is sending data back to earth. It’s a fascinating story which gripped the attention of many who rarely pay attention to science stories unless they’re accompanied by a gif set on I Fucking Love Science.

This was big news and as such, there was a televised press conference at which Dr. Matt Taylor was interviewed wearing an extraordinary shirt. In a room full of people in plain polos or dress shirts or sports jackets or blazers, Taylor had chosen to wear a shirt emblazoned with images of pin up girls in pvc corsets and bikini bottoms, all with heavy makeup and serious come-hither looks.

If Taylor had chosen to wear a tshirt emblazoned with some inappropriate saying (“FBI—Female Body Inspector”), no matter how much anyone wanted to discuss the mission, they would have still managed a comment about his shirt, and probably added a snarky joke. If he had chosen to wear a hockey jersey, perhaps fans of the particular team might have made approving comments, but many would have felt the need to comment that it seemed a little casual and inappropriate to wear to the workplace. But when women felt the need to comment that Taylor’s ability to wear a shirt covered with pinup girls to work, and for a televised interview seemed woefully out of place they were quickly countered with every possible version of the sexism monster: from sneers about their shallowness, snide remarks about “trying to make everythign about sexism” all the way to the Big Bads of death and rape threats. And, in reality, many of those criticising are angrier than might be expected because they saw the shirt and they knew that it would generate comments. They felt that strange instinctive anger that men, and some women, get when women talk about the invisible monster—and they set their shoulders and squared their jaw waiting for the fight. They were waiting for “those women, those feminists” to “choose” to be upset.

Those sneering are very clear that they consider criticism of the shirt as ‘taking away’ from this moment in science, and world history. It’s been sullied by the complaints of the women and men who found the shirt demeaning and sexist. The complaints have ruined the sneer-ers’ enjoyment of this moment. And that is not as important as women tuning in to hear about this great moment, wanting to find out about this mission and seeing that one of the main men responsible, a working intelligent scientist felt that it was completely acceptable to wear that shirt to work, to wear it on the air, to talk to a woman journalist, to have it broadcast around the world for women and girls everywhere to see.

Every single day we encounter sexism…every day. Even if we don’t leave our homes. It’s in the ads on our televisions, it’s in the magazines we read, it’s on the sites on the internet. It’s in the internet commenters…for some, when they turn on their game console and go online to play. And we don’t mention it every single time—we can’t, because it would actually be all that we would have to say, all that we would talk about.

But when we are told that this is one of the great moments in human history—that humans have put a lander onto a comet after a ten year journey, imagine what it’s like for women and girls to turn on the news conference and to see very clear evidence that this is a great moment in man’s history. That mendid it—and that this one man felt that this moment was so incredible that it deserved to be commemorated with a shirt covered with pinup girls.

So continue with your demands that we be silent—that we stop talking about the shirt, that we not interrupt your continued belief that you are better human beings than we are. After all, you have the ability to reblog articles about this great moment…clearly, that shows your superior humanity and intelligence. You are dreaming of space…we’re only thinking of what life is like for us, as we continue to live down here on the planet with those of you who think we should be quiet and not bother you with stories of monsters you can’t see.

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

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.

“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.)