Toronto Marijuana Dispensaries: legalization vs legalities

Many are protesting the raids on marijuana dispensaries in Toronto yesterday. The argument is that marijuana will be legalized in Canada next year.  And yet, many are the same people I’ve seen posting articles explaining how no one has to worry: that the future dispensaries will be controlled and regulated and licensed, much like the ones in Denver. That is to say, people wouldn’t be able to just decide that they wanted to set up a corner store and start selling; like any other kind of business they would have to follow the rules. The Liberals’ own material makes clear that they are not saying simply that will only legalize it:  they will license and regulate its sale, meaning that not all who wish to sell it will be approved.

Yet, people decided that they wanted to set up store fronts and start selling. Without controls, without regulation, without licenses. People selling hot dogs out of food trucks have to pay for licenses, have to follow regulations, have to have inspections. Hot dogs have never ever been illegal. It wasn’t a matter of controlling the sale of a now-legalized substance.

Alcohol is a legal substance and yet we all know that we can’t just decide to open up a liquor store because we want to. And we would look askance at anyone who suddenly did so…and we would be downright suspicious of anyone selling their own homemade brew.

We understand that cigarettes are a legal but controlled substance. We would be equally surprised and leery to see anyone selling their own brand of cigarettes out of a storefront.

There is also a certain naiveity about running these as unlicensed businesses hoping for “the law” to turn a blind eye. This is a business with significant profits…there are those protesting what they see as the government simply wanting their cut. They are choosing to ignore that there are other organizations that will want in on this business. Perhaps the club owners paying protection money to some of the biker clubs would be better able to speak to that.

A lot of people are protesting what they see as the hypocrisy of the raids. Yep…but the hypocritical might not be those you think.

“Just make something new…”

Once upon a time, many mainstream record companies would insist that a new signee’s first release would be a cover: covers were almost guaranteed hits. People like familiarity, people like the comfortable…so Kylie Minogue hit big way back when with a nonsense song like “Locomotion”, and The Fugees released a cover of “Killing Me Softly” even as much of their intended audience didn’t necessarily know the original song. There are many acts who never had the second hit after that first cover. But in every case, the record company felt that they could make back their (significant) financial investment with at least that one cover.
The thinking was always that it’s easier to take a chance on some percentage of known quantity rather than a complete unknown. A hit song is one that has a hook that worked…
And so it is with the movie and tv biz. Endlessly, fans whine, “Why not just make something new?” Yes. In a world where a big Hollywood movie can easily run $150 million even without ‘big’ name stars, why don’t studios “just” make something new? Because it’s a business, and they want to make money. If they risk money on an unknown and lose out, eventually they will be out of business. And guaranteed hits help pay for their riskier new projects, the ones with unknown stars or new writers. So the companies look for a hit that can be covered…be it an old movie, a comic book, or an old tv show, or a book series, something that has had success, something for which they know there is an audience.
Given the endless writings when Bridesmaids was scheduled two years ago, given all the pronouncements that it’s success or lack thereof would dictate For All Time whether the world could deal with the complete strangeness of having an all woman cast, given the utter and complete nonsense debate every single time a woman is announced as a star of pretty much anything…is it really so surprising that a movie company looking to have an all-women cast would tap an old product to remake?
No, no it is not. Well, not to me…apparently it’s an awful big shock to an awful lot of someones who are convinced that the movie company should be paying more attention to that someone’s $12 than the $120 million or more they’ll pay for a feature.

Jenner and the Anger of Allies

There has been a spurious story going ’round social media which alleges that Caitlyn Jenner regrets her transition and will be “de-transitioning in the future.” (I’m not gonna link to it in any way, so you can take my word for it or Google.) If one makes the effort to read past the headline one discovers quite quickly that this information is based on alleged conversations between unnamed “longtime friends” and an author who–SURPRISE!–is publishing a biography on the Kardashian family. His book is done without the cooperation of the Kardashian or Jenner families. It is he who has been so kind as to share this story in advance of his book’s publication. The story is based on allegations of regret and Jenner’s alleged continued interest in women (perhaps Jenner’s conservative views would prevent her from understanding that trans women can be lesbians, but I’m surprised that any author capable of doing research can’t figure that out).   I have seen this link enough times on some of my social media accounts and in all instances there has been a gleefully sneering response to it by non-trans people. None have done the slightest bit of research; most seem not to have even read the article. Several times when I saw it on Facebook, it was followed by those links Facebook helpfully posts, suggesting that if you liked that link then you might wanna read these. One of those suggestions is the Snopes article that went up fairly quickly denoucing this story.

That’s the backstory to my anger which follows here:

I genuinely don’t give a fuck if you have respect for Jenner: she is not a product made for your consumption. Transitioning does not change someone into a new person; it enables them to live visibly as their gender, the gender others may not have been aware of because of that person’s sex assignment at birth. Transitioning does not bestow sainthood upon one and it shouldn’t: trans people are people. Period. The end.

Jenner did not transition so you would have someone to point to and show off your ally skills. She transitioned to live as she has wanted to live all these long decades…  As dramatically as the public support for trans people has grown in the last few years, it is not complete. And that (limited) support does not make the process of transitioning in public easy…just, perhaps, easier. And the public is not able to see what the private story is, how difficult it is for a trans person to deal with family and friends and ask and hope for their support. Further, a simple perusal of social media and news sites shows just how far the conservatives and anti-trans crowd will go to try to shut trans people away from the world. That anyone transitioning would have moments that they question their decision to live a life so fraught with criticism and judgement is not surprising.
And that criticism and judgement is there as strongly in those who call themselves allies as those who don’t. There is a hostility brought to bear on Jenner by the cis het crowd that has nothing to do with any trans allyship…it’s irritation that they wanted to show how great and wonderful they are by supporting Jenner’s transition, by supporting her as a trans person. Having her express views they disagree with (views she always had, btw), having her be anything but a word-perfect role model irks them. They’re afraid that it reflects back on them and now they won’t be able to validate their allyship to others.
That isn’t being an ally.
Don’t tell me that you’re negative because you’re such a trans supporter. Nope. When you intentionally and willfully misgender her, when you gloat over stories such as the one referenced here (one so obviously false if take but minutes of care in reading), you are not a trans supporter.
One of the perpetual problems for any minority identity group (including women, perceived as a minority even if not numerically so) is the idea that each person of that group is a representative of all. Any time a black man does something egregious, the public shakes it’s head and wags a finger because he is making ALL black men look bad (Chris Brown, anyone?). Anytime a black woman does something that the moralizers disapprove of, she is alleged to take away from the reputation of all black women (Rhianna, for example). And the list goes on and on…

It’s not difficult to understand:  when you have so few trans people visible and out in the culture, trying to work, trying to live public lives, it is hard not to resent those who may say things or do things that the majority will point to and say, “See, this is why those people should not have rights! This is why we don’t have to treat them with consideration and respect.” We live in a world where we understand that shooting unarmed black men is wrong…but when it happens people look to show that the victim was a saint above reproach. They deserved to live. The other side will try to paint the victim as someone who did wrong in life; as if somehow that validates killing him. But so it is:  rather than understanding that all people are owed decency and respect, we pick and choose who we will acknowledge. Only the majority identity group has the luxury to allow individuals their own identity without it affecting the reputation of the whole.

No one takes any white man to task as being representative of all white men. No white men are stopped for Man in the Street interviews and asked to validate any white male criminal’s existence, or the behaviour of any white male celebrity, to explain why he is allowed to be the way he is, and how he reflects badly on white men. Chris Brown reflects on all young black men but apparently Charlie Sheen only reflects on himself.
Take Jenner to task for her views and her words if you choose. But do not belittle and misgender her because you have decided she’s not the example you hoped to point at to show how good and wonderful you are as an ally. Allies are the support players; they are not the lead role.

Just stop.

Sexual assault is never flattering

(T/W for discussion of sexual assault)
Tired of all things Ghomeshi. Tired of my cynicsm, tired of the excuses, tired of it all. Unfortunately, I will probably say the following over and over again, not just in regards to Ghomeshi, but in any discussion of our society and how we treat women:
There is something to the idea that people really do think that at some level a man expressing sexual interest in a woman is flattery…that the “only” problem is if she doesn’t like it. He’s the hapless victim, she’s the one who overreacted…and hey, she probably led him on. Hey, she probably secretly liked it…there’s always a reason the man isn’t responsible. “All” she had to do is say no…and if she did and he ignored her then she gave him a signal.
Men are presented as continually sexual creatures whose only mode is “on”. There’s even a myth to support that: the idea that men think about sex every thirty seconds in an average day. Women are the controllers of men’s sexuality: it is the woman’s place to say “no” if she’s not interested. What this suggests is that a woman’s consent is the default position: there is never a question that boys and men should be taught that they have to ask and have a woman’s consent. Nope, they can do as they wish: it is up to the woman to say no. (This is one reason why people feel that dress codes for girls are reasonable: after all, those girls don’t know any better…they have to be taught to say no, to refuse men and boys. Since they are perpetually available sexually to anyone male they have to dress in a way that will visually signal “no” to any male onlookers.)
This by the way is why there have been several cases in the US where judges have ruled that women were not sexually assaulted or raped despite actual physical evidence, recordings and witnesses: the “victim” was unconscious, therefore, argued the judges, they did not say no. An absense of “no” means the man had every reason to believe he could do as he wished. Consider that when you argue that it IS only up to the woman to say no.
I’ve written elsewhere about rape threats–that there are trolls who think the absolute worst thing they can say to a woman is that she is too ugly/fat/old/etc to rape…because in their brains, they genuinely really truly think that rape is about sex and sexual interest and desire. Whereas the reality is that rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault are about control and domination.
Ghomeshi didn’t behave like this because he’s playful and he just looooooves women so darned much: he did it to let everyone know that he’s the one in charge. He’s the one who was superior to the women he worked with, to the women he invited over to his home (different than the few women who were long-term girlfriends who were not assaulted). He’s the king.
And when you explain how it was the fault of anyone but Ghomeshi you allow him and other men carte blanche to repeat this behaviour. After all: it’s not their fault. The women should have said no.


I am forever baffled by the people utterly convinced–they KNOW it to be true–that if you allow trans kids to use their gender’s washrooms at schools, then boys (and men) will dress up as girls so they can go into the washrooms to assault girls.

To these people, this makes perfect sense. They do not question that if there are men or older boys who are interested in assaulting girls, why would they go to the effort of identifying themselves to their school as a trans girl, presumably dressing as a trans girl, going about their day with everyone in the school knowing that they’re a trans girl, dealing with the incredible difficulties that could potentially bring. For all the laws in place against discrimination, there is still much bullying in schools. But, they will do this–they will meet with the school, they will tell their family and friends that they are trans, they will go to school as trans, all for the opportunity to use the girls washroom in order to assault whatever girl they find in there. If they find a girl in there. And if she’s alone. And if no other girl walks into the washroom at all. And if the girl doesn’t scream her head off.

If such a situation were to occur, clearly this would be a one-off opportunity for the predator in question. Who would be very easily identifiable: “That boy who just said he’s a trans girl? That’s the one.”

But the bigots would like you to know that this is possible.

The incredible and obvious stupidity of this plan which exists in the minds of no one but the bigoted reveals their complete lack of understanding. In a world where boys refuse to wear “girl” colours for fear of being beaten up, that other boys will think they’re gay, the opponents of washroom equality laws argue that a boy will wear a dress to school in order to sexually assault a girl. They assume that to identify as a trans girl or woman is just a matter of putting on a dress. It’s not that simple. That’s not “all” that it is. That these people attempt to argue that trans girls are just boys in dresses who have no concerns in their world other than what they want (putting aside that the bigots are convinced that it’s to be predatory). That for them to say to their parents “I’m wearing a dress because I’m a girl” would be accepted complacently and the child would be sent off to school without any further discussion. That the boy would say to the school, “I’m a girl” and the school staff would say, “Sure, okay–there’s the girls’ washroom. Have a good day!” That all his classmates would say, “Wearing a dress, huh? Oh, you’re a girl? Sure, okay. Did you get your homework done?”

But the bigots would like you to know that this is possible.

The bigots would like you to think that it’s easy to pretend to be a trans girl…that it’s easy to be a trans girl. And they would really appreciate it if you pretended that you too believe this ludicrous fantastical story they’ve created to explain their opposition to washroom equality. In a world where people like these bigots exist, where these people speak out loud and express their vitriol and hatred, they want you to know that it’s easy to be the person they choose to hate and fear.

The bigots would like you to know that this is possible.

Women hate you because…

There needs to be a Special Circle of Hell for women who like to say “Women hate me because…”.

Women hate you because when you say that you are speaking to men. You are saying to men, “Please let me take this time to reinforce all your sexist beliefs that women are irrational anti-intellectual creatures completely driven by their emotions and those emotions are just jealousy.” That you are completely reinforcing the patriarchal cliche that all women are in a perpetual competition to win and be the one who has full use of the Male Gaze.

Women hate you because you are telling them that YOU believe all of that–that it’s the first thought that occurs to you as acceptable explanation. You do not examine your own behaviour, you do not examine how you treat other women, you do not examine how you talk about other women. You refuse to acknowledge that you continually talk about women as if there really truly is an ongoing competition. You simply do not admit that you treat women as if that competition exists and that you believe yourself to have already won; that you patronize them and try to make them feel better or worse about what you perceive as their loss. Continue reading

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.