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A letter from Rehtaeh Parson’s father

13 Apr

Rehtaeh Parsons father has issued a statement about his daughter.

The 17-year old Nova Scotia teen took her own life this past weekend after allegedly being gang raped by 4 boys when she was just 15. The photos of the rape were circulated on the internet.

Her father wrote:

“There’s a wooden box in my house that holds all the memories I have of my beautiful little girl. The outfit she wore home from the hospital, a hand print in clay, art, school cards and drawings, mementoes of her life. Even a newspaper dated December 9th, 1995, the day she came into this world.

I tried to keep it all for her, to have someday when she grew up and had her own family. That day will never come.

“Rehtaeh died April 7th at 11:15 PM. She was 17 years old.

She died struggling to live, much as she spent the last 18 months […]

Why was this treated like a minor incident of bullying rather than a rape? Isn’t the production and distribution of child porn a crime in this country? Numerous people were emailed that photo. The police have that information (or at least they told us they did). When someone claims they were raped is it normal to wait months before talking to the accused?

You have the opportunity here to do something good and lets face it; the court system in Nova Scotia was just going to rape her all over again with indifference to her suffering and the damage this did to her.

My daughter wasn’t bullied to death, she was disappointed to death. Disappointed in people she thought she could trust, her school, and the police.

She was my daughter, but she was your daughter too.”

 

SOURCE: http://www.torontosun.com/2013/04/11/rehtaeh-parsons-dad-pens-emotional-letter-to-daughter

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Justice is good. Prevention is better.

12 Apr
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Rehtaeh Parsons

Ughhhh, this is not going to be a funny post, a happy post, a post about philosophy. This is, straight up, going to be a post about rape.

First off, I want to say, I don’t enjoy writing about this stuff. I find it to be really depressing, and awful. But I feel like, until we really start to change our mindsets, I have to make whatever tiny contribution I can, even if this particular blog only reaches like, 5 people, and even if it only makes them go, “Huh. That’s sad.”

So yeah. I feel like lately all I’ve been reading about, talking about, learning about is rape. Rape culture, rape apologists, victim dynamics. Sex trafficking. Gang rape, date rape, statuatory rape, rape in the media, rape in the streets. Slavery, sexual abuse, harassment, assault. Workplace harassment. Rape in Canada and the US. Rape in India, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Turkey. Switzerland.

It’s everywhere.

Rape. It’s this four letter word that emblazons it’s victims and survivors alike with a big, red, societal stamp across their forehead. It’s “vague.” It’s simultaneously “volatile.” We don’t know if they asked for it or not. Maybe she was a “slut”? Maybe she was a “hooker”. He “could” have fought him off. She’s probably lying.

The mainstream doesn’t get it, yet. “I thought all rape was violent?” Nope. “I thought it wasn’t rape if she didn’t say no” Nope. “Aren’t most rapes false reports?” Nope.

Stephen Harper, veteran Women’s Rights point-misser and the runner of my fair nation says he is “sickened” by what happened to Rehtaeh Parsons. Well, sure. That is an appropriate response. Who is Rehtaeh Parsons, you may ask?

Well, she was a beautiful, young Nova Scotian teenager, who was taken off life support last Sunday after hanging herself.

But why would she do such a thing?

Well, she did this because of the decline in her mental health. Why was it in decline?

It was in decline because in 2011, she suffered a gang rape at the hands of her peers, circulation of photos of the event, and subsequent torture and bullying for two years afterwards.

And now, today, another news article involving a 15 year old girl in San Jose California comes up. And just like Rehtaeh Parsons, this girl too has just hung herself, not 8 days after a similar sexual assault at a party involving multiple people occurred- and yes- photos were taken and surfaced.

And let’s not forget about the horrific case that started heads turning and politicians, school boards and parents talking about rape culture: Steubenville. The town name will now, likely, be synonymous with the crimes committed by the football team that summer night against a girl too drunk to even stand, and the kids that jeered, took pictures, and offered each other money to urinate on her.

Hopefully Steubenville will also become synonymous with the much needed cultural shift that, at this point, I’m thinking has to happen. If school boards don’t take notice of the importance of teaching about consent, mental health, rape culture and anti-oppression now, I don’t know if they ever will.

What bothers me is that I feel as though Canada’s approach is going to be more along the lines of, “Let’s continue to discourage healthy sexual contact because sex is bad, and by doing so, implicitly continue to promulgate our culture of blaming the victim for what happens to them.”  Stephen Harper has released his statements on how “sickened” he is, etc, but all he and the MP’s and the Mayors and the leaders have been talking about is how they need to increase “bullying” awareness, and start punishing the offenders as adults. This sentiment mixed with Harper’s affinity for decreasing rehabilitation programs and failing to promote any semblance of feminist theory makes me nervous.

Hello?? Our culture is the problem. It’s time to start looking at the causes of the symptoms instead of telling kids that sex is bad and will lead to violence and the destruction of reputations, and ultimately, lives. We need to teach about the right to refuse sex, we need to teach others how to interpret signals of refusal and discomfort, we need to teach about the value of looking after your peers.

But it’s important to start reading between the lines, here. We need to start actively questioning our culture, and we need to start introducing critical thought regarding gender and sexuality in our schools! Our kids have a right to know how to protect each other, themselves. How to respect boundaries. They need to be as familiar with this stuff as much as we emphasize shit like how sharing is caring. Silence can’t be taken as a “yes” any longer.

Really, it’s about time.

If you’re a N00B to this stuff, and you don’t know much about this stuff, I will be doing a few of articles this week specifically focussing on the following topics:

  • Sex Crimes 101
  • Victim Blaming 101
  • Rape Culture 101

Because I know that I surely can’t be the only person asking…

What the fuck?

“FEMINISTS AREN’T FUN”: A COMMENTARY ON THAT.

30 Mar
I want to live in a grey world where nobody laughs or smiles and we all live in an Orwellian dystopia

I want to live in a grey world where nobody laughs or smiles and we all live in an Orwellian dystopia

I wanna talk about fun.

And I don’t mean the band, fun. I’m talkin’ about this BIG CONCEPT of fun. What the fuck is fun? I know I’ve had it! I know when it’s happening!   WOO FUN *waves around a party favour like she just don’t care.*

Now, there are lots of people out there that think that feminists are anti fun. Busted, it’s true, we AAAALLL HATE fun.  ALL OF THE FUN IS BAD. We take things TOO SERIOUSLY and we HATE FUN. I guess they get this impression ’cause we tend to get all riled up about hilarious stuff like heterosexism and rape culture. Ha! Ha!

Back a month ago ish, when I had that whole “Critically thinking about commercials is prolly super important, guyz… ” fiasco, when I had all those peeps tell me that I should shut up, or TITS/GTFO, a number of the personal inboxes I received mostly stated that I was taking things too seriously, and about how I didn’t know how to have fun. And that really rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, yeah, the other comments did too, what with the various talk of thinking I’d be “real good with a [maaanly bit]” (thanks?) and that I just look like I need a “good roll in the sack.”

Riiight. I mean, obviously, I’ve just been so un fun. Some wild sex with a misogynist would definitely help that out.

I will admit that yeah, once one starts critically examining things like the media, it becomes hard to shallowly enjoy things again. It’s like…the Matrix, once you’ve seen it, you’re like, “oh shit, this is how things actually are.”  So yeah, I can’t just pick up a Cosmo and be like, “Huh! Neat.” I can’t just walk past weirdly sexual underwear for 10 year olds and not think something about it. I can’t watch a commercial and wonder why it was advertised to me in that specific, particular fashion. I wonder what image, what ideal the corporates are wanting to sell to the masses. I want to know what we’re all supposed to be thinking, desiring. I have a hard time enjoying watching Jersey Shore and not feeling uncomfortable by Ronnie’s and Sammi’s (very abusive) relationship (to be fair, I also have a hard time enjoying it ’cause it’s awful.)

I can’t really enjoy music videos sometimes. Some Disney movies are just straight up ruined. And horror movies? Oh my gosh! I love them but the TROPES! My god, the tropes!!

So, sure. I can’t just enjoy stuff like that in the way that I used to after understanding more about feminist theory and critical thinking. But you know what? I don’t mind it! I can still enjoy it! But I feel like I can see it for what it is, which is a mix between marginalizing and dichotomous views on yadda yadda, okay we get it ur a feminist superlady shaddap.

And I can have fun! Look at the things I do that are fun:

  • Bike!
  • Climb stuff occasionally
  • Wear moustaches or shark hats with my friends
  • Make cat puns
  • I HAVE A BRIGHTLY COLOURED WARDROBE
  • AND I DO ENJOY OCCASIONALLY GOING DANCING.

But I guess none of that counts for anything, because I’m a feminist, and I am therefore a shitty killjoy. And if that’s how they wanna play it, that’s fine.

Because you know what my idea of fun is?

My idea of fun is walking home at night, enjoying the stars, lovin’ that badass moon. Not trying to get from A to B the quickest.

To go out to a bar and not have to worry that your friends aren’t being “careful with their drinks.”

To dance with my friends if I want to dance with my friends, and not have gross sweaty large bodies grab at mine like some bizarre mating ritual.

To have space actually be respected.

To enjoy Orientation/Frosh week at campuses without the rape jokes, rape chants (“NO MEANS YES!” at Yale: look it up)

To dress like Britney Spears from ‘Toxic’ for Halloween, or like a goddamn ghost, bed sheet with holes cut in it style, and not have people make assumptions about your “sluttiness” or “prude-ishness.”

To turn on the news and not have to hear about a brutal gang rape of a 16 year by a football team… and furthermore, it’s “covering up” by city officials.

My idea of fun is being able to flip through a magazine and maybe, for fuckin’ once, see a curvy, awesome, sexy, black woman in the advertisements.

To have my LGBTQ friends be able to kiss or hold hands in public and not be treated like fucking lepers.

To be able to have a good time downtown, and not have your friends get racially profiled by the cops.

To not have my girlfriends lament and feel frustrated because they aren’t “hot” or “sexy” because they don’t fit the body type  and colour of 5″7, 120 lbs, 32 C, hips: 26, light skinned.

To go to a party with my girlfriends and if one of them gets too drunk, have the only real worry be like, worse case Ontario: they puke on a cop or their dad or something.

My idea of fun involves a night where I could walk around with my lady friends in the summer, scantily clad to the moon and back if we wanted to be, and not get  yelled at or harassed or hurt. Or blamed.

To not be exploited.

To not be hurt.

To not fear.

And you know what, people? I’m thinkin’, we aren’t the lame ones. We’re trying to have a good time. WE ARE TRYING TO #YOLO. But you know what keeps getting in the way of that good time? Legitimately not fun stuff. Like… uh, assault. And harassment. And racism. And rape.

And so, I am forced to conclude that YOU, mainstream weenies, YOU are the unfun ones.

So how about YOU stop being such a killjoy, and help us kick racism, sexism and rape culture in the ass?

that’d be gr8, thx. k. bye.

PHILOSOPHY TIME: Desire without context: capitalism

13 Mar
Our bodies as desiring machines

Our bodies as desiring machines

Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia by Deleuze and Guttari is, it is safe to say, the most challenging book I’ve ever read in my life (so far. I’m not finished it yet.) It’s also the most important one I’ve read so far. Learning about society’s desire to be repressed, our inner fascism, capitalism, and sexual politics- all thrown against a vicious assault on Freudian psychoanalysis- is definitely eye opening.

What I want to talk about right now is the concept of capitalism being the machine that decodes us. 

When Deleuze and Guttari say decode, what they are really saying is “to take [something] out of context.” So, capitalism is a machine that takes us out of context. How?

Let’s first think about the notion of the Earth being our primary source through which desires are enacted and to which everything must return. We want a cabin, so we cut some trees down and make one. We want to eat, so we eat some fruit off a bush, or a cow that we kill, what have you.

There’s  a context for those desires. The desires to eat, to consume, they are directly accessible to the earth. For instance: I can eat THIS APPLE that I picked MYSELF.

Now. D&G say:

Money takes desire out of context. Money is the raw flow of desire; it’s desire in waiting. How do you mean?

Well, simply put, I mean that you can’t eat money. But you can use it to buy something. Or, money can provide you with the labourers that build a house, product, etc, but it is often treated as the product itself.  Money merely represents the POTENTIAL for something to exist to you. Money has no context all by itself.

So our society has now replaced EARTH with MONEY as our main “socius,” or, necessary ally, which means that our society is operating with a raw flow of desire for potentiality without any code (context.)

AND THEN: you realize that capitalism, this raw flow of desire, has started to give relations to itself. Think about the stock market, or the concept of debt. It’s out of context desire giving context… to itself.

It makes no sense. That’s why it’s schizophrenic. It’s split.

Maybe I’ll write more when I’m done the book, but what this idea has got me thinking about is the notion that maybe this is what makes us code ourselves, give ourselves context, repress ourselves by limiting and labelling our bodies and our personalities.

xo.

 

HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY!

8 Mar

In honour of today, which is International Women’s Day, and in solidarity towards the women in EGYPT, LIBYA, INDIA, and the many other places that are currently undergoing some of the most impressive, necessary and intense feminist revolutions in history, I’m just going to post some awesome photos. Enjoy!

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“February 28, 1938 – Members of the Chinese Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union in San Francisco’s Chinatown begin a successful 15-week strike for better wages and conditions at the National Dollar Stores factory and three retail outlets. […] With the strike the workers won a 5% raise; a 40-hour workweek; enforcement of health, fire, and sanitary conditions; and a guarantee that the company would provide work for at least 11 months of the year.”

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 12.20.14 PM Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 12.19.26 PM Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 12.19.04 PM

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 12.16.13 PM Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 12.17.39 PM Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 12.17.46 PM Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 12.17.29 PM

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This translates to "Without women, there is no revolution"

This translates to “Without women, there is no revolution”

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xoxoxoxoxoxooxox

Desire and The Death Instinct

28 Feb

Wooo, typing. I’m not gonna lie, that was a way longer hiatus than planned. I was all, “K! I want to come back to the internets, now plz” but my midterms were all “NOOO WAY, MISSY.”

I HAD been planning on some kind of cutting, sharp response to the shitty comments, wherein I would OVERWHELM them with my WIT and my CHARM and my NICENESS and they’d feel TERRIBLE because they’d realize how DUMB they were…

But alas. It’s not even worth the effort. So I will leave it with this: irony is pretty rich in this situation. “Sexism doesn’t exist anymore, ps you’re a dumb broad/ugly/but I do want to fuck you/tits or gtfo” is, in itself, a fairly contradictory statement, but it’s come to my attention that a lot of feminist type blogger ladies have this issue. So whateva. H8RS gonna H8.

Now, if you’re feeling like reading on, then… cool. Awesome, in fact. I’ll be talking about something called the Death Instinct (oooh!) and desire and maybe sexy emails and stuff.

"Lilith" by John Collier. This picture is more relevant than it might appear. We have Lilith entwined, almost sensuously, with a snake. Although she represented something else in biblical stories, she can also be seen as representing passion, female sexuality, and sometimes, the id.

“Lilith” by John Collier. This picture is more relevant than it might appear. We have Lilith entwined, almost sensuously, with a snake. Although she represented something else in biblical stories, she can also be seen as representing passion, female sexuality, and sometimes, the id.

In my favourite philosophy class, we are discussing phenomenology (for those that don’t know what it is, don’t worry. I’m not going to ‘splain it. Just don’t worry. No brief little blog blurb is gonna make sense of it for you. I barely have a grasp on all the major concepts myself, at the moment) and we are branching off now into a more… sexual-ish branch of it, which is exciting.

So we’re reading Anti-Oedipus: Schizophrenia and Capitalism  by Deleuze and Guttari, and it is extremely interesting. We are talking about the concepts of fascism not just as a concept that exists within a government or a society, but within ourselves, within our minds…yadda yadda, etc. I’ll write more about the book some other day. But right now, I just wanna talk about a concept from it.

In this one particular section, early on in the book, they’re talking about The Death Instinct. I’mma break dis down for you:

Freud is known for making a lot of advancements in psychology and analysis and blah blah blah, as well as being a guy who pretty much just saw dicks everywhere. One of his perhaps most well known  developments is the practice and theory of psychoanalysis. Maybe you know this, maybe not, but I’ll briefly sum it up.

Freud says that in our heads, we had three… things, telling us what to do:

  • We have our IDS (pronounced like the word “it” but with a ‘d’ instead of a ‘t’. Shut up if it’s obvious. I first called it “ide.”)
  • We have our EGO
  • And our SUPEREGO

Our Id is the pleasure centre, basically. The unconscious, dark recesses of our minds that crave food and sex and whatnot. Pure impulse, constantly seeking gratification. Deleuze and Guttari describe this as the “and this…and this… and this…” part of the mind- like when you watch a dog play with something and get distracted by something else, and then something else. Dogs don’t play with something and think “oh, I’ll come back to this later.” Rather, their world is wholly enveloped by a new thing, all the time.

Our egos and our superegos can be broken down and explained as consciousness (eg0) and our conscience (superego.) While these are all very interesting, what I will be specifically talking about is the id, the concept of pure pleasure seeking.

So while Freud was trying to convince everyone that really they all just wanted to sleep with their parents, he got older. And as he got older, he began to revise- and perfect- his theory about the id. He came up with something called the Death Instinct, which is basically a deep desire to withdraw entirely from a situation, even if it’s pleasurable, or will result in something pleasurable.

The best way to imagine this is, try to remember a time that you’ve won something. Those moments before you won the award, after getting the award, you wouldn’t think of them as being so bad. But those moments of anticipation, that tension in waiting for the pleasure to come- it’s almost so painful that you’d rather not experience it at all. You’d rather “die” away from the situation. If you’ve never won anything, then that’s sad (kidding…) but I’ll use a different analogy.

Say your goofy and well meaning but sort of stupid friend prompted you to write and send the following emails to someone you were insanely attracted to and felt pretty sure the feeling was mutual:

“Hey there, 

I was just thinking about you, I was wondering if you’d want to get dinner with me sometime?”

OR, it’s naughtier cousin,

“Hey, you’re pretty cute, would you want to maybe hook up? We could do my place, watch a movie… or you know, not watch one…” 

Those moments in waiting for the response, which would either be a “yes” (pleasure) or a “no” (rejection) create a tension that is so overwhelming, so nerve wracking, that over time, you just wouldn’t want to feel it at all. That anticipatory breath before release is part of the Death Instinct, just apply it in an even larger scheme- for instance, after getting your heart literally broken over, and over, and over, and over, you maybe wouldn’t even want to try anymore, because even though the payoff of pleasure would be great, the anticipation and rejection process is so brutal that it’s not worth it to you anymore.

What this causes is an interesting fight within us. There are always equally powerful motives behind a pleasure possibility. The Death Instinct is our id splitting us in a very basic way. It’s the “and this… and this… and this” but sort of at the same time, which creates a SCHIZOPHRENIC (and I mean this in the literal “split mind” sense of the word) problem. The pleasure, and the desire to simultaneously be released from wanting the pleasure, from needing the pleasure. Our ids power us and reward us, but also torture us.

Anyway I just thought that was sorta NEAT.

xxxo.

Bye!

Why I am taking a brief break.

7 Feb

I’m giving up the internet for a bit, here is an explanation.

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First off, thank you to those that liked my posts and followed me and have sent me positive feedback, you’re wonderful.
So, as most of you may know, one my my philosophy profs last semester encouraged us to start blogging. I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and the traffic I’ve gotten has been really surprising. I’ve shared my opinions about gun control, religious small towns, and gender, to name a few. I THOUGHT, that maybe, I could change people’s mids about sexism, by being all casual, and jokey, and accessible.

However, the latest post I made, although it received a lot of positive feedback, also received some pretty… upsetting “feedback.” And I say “feedback” because what it really is is sexist comments.

If you read my latest one, it was me sort of expositing over the importance of critically examining seemingly “okay” commercials that sort of slip under our radars. With racism and sexism, it’s easy (and good) to point at the blatantly BAD, but it’s important to remember there is a whole sea of implicit stuff that we don’t notice because we don’t know how to be critical as viewers.

Anyway, the comments and the inboxes I have gotten over this post have been, well, pretty upsetting. I wasn’t going to “approve” them, but I wanted to show this to you guys. The anger that even a little bit of feminist questioning brought on was fairly surprising.

Anyway I’m not looking for any kind of pity party or whatever. I’m freaked out, and feeling frustrated, and like I don’t want to take a big part in the internet for a little while. You can say, “whatever, it’s the internet, that’s what happens” but I don’t know, I think that’s BS. ‘Cause sure, yeah, it “happens,” but it’s uncool and hurtful and frankly, scary. The people that commented DON’T LIKE WOMEN. They are misogynists. I didn’t sign up for this crap when I started the blog. But guess what? That’s what some forms of sexism are.
I’m not stopping the blog, but I’m taking a break.It’s great, but it’s too seedy and shitty sometimes, and this feminist needs to take some time to reconsider some stuff, and maybe get a “thicker skin” or something, because right now, all I want to do is delete all my posts, because I just don’t want to read this kind of shit.

I’ll be back! Just have got to clear my head and be a bit more positive. Right now, it’s hard to not listen to the h8rs ’cause it’s pretty pervasive and in my face. It feels really personal too, ’cause it’s my blog, and I spend a lot of time on each post.

I will be deleting these comments soon. I don’t want them on my WordPress. I just wanted to share them first.

xo, thanks for reading, I look forward to posting again soon.