Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why I'm a Reluctant Feminist and Other Gendered Issues

Before I start writing this post, I'd like to mention that I am using a new keyboard, so I apologize if I make a lot of typos.

The other day I was painting my nails red. Target Red. This is funny because I bought the offending nail polish on sale at Target, which is currently liquidating after a failed attempt to integrate into the Canadian market.I had bought the red nail polish because I have been meaning to get some solid coloured polish for awhile, to put under my black and white sparkle polish. I had avoided it for about 9 months successfully, because I'm not really very into makeup. I was sitting on the bed and listening to music. I painted one hand, then let it dry before painting the other. Once both hands were dry I applied the sparkle coat on the first hand, then when it dried I moved to the other hand. This gave me ample time to think, about nail polish. Nail polish is most clearly a convention created to make women incapable of doing anything else! I probably sat on that bed almost an hour waiting for my nails to dry, unable to touch anything or do anything other than listen to my music. As it was, I managed to ruin one hand before it dried completely. Not before I felt myself seething with silent rage about female beauty standards and their stupidity. At that point I could've written an entire blog post on how horrible nail polish was and how it was used to make women incapable of functioning equally to men. I could've, but it would've insured I further ruined my nails. Besides, my partner was using the computer.

The irony is not lost on me, but I have always been a reluctant feminist. Yes, I believe in equality between the sexes, and yes I believe women should get equal pay for the same work. Despite realizing more and more each day that I am a major feminist, I still find myself shying away from such a label. It's not feminism that interests me, it is equality... for everybody. I hear the word feminist dropped in conversation and I get an image in my head of 1960s bra-burnings. The word is outdated and behind the times. Gender is not about dualities anymore. We have come to recognize a complex spectrum of possibilities for gender and sexual orientation. We have moved beyond the sex we are assigned at birth, and are embracing sex, and gender as occupying a spiritual space. This is the place of self and personality and identity. All of this is warm and fuzzy, but also a necessary step of progress in creating a world that is equal for everyone.

That is all well and good, but we have a long way to go. It also has very little to do with my own sense of self. I was assigned female at birth and have always identified as such (although, often thinking wistfully how much easier my life would be, had I been born a boy.) My partner is male, so I am decidedly boring. Still, gender-fluidity is an important factor in the other gender-related issue that has been bothering me lately. The truth is that the word "feminist" is not the only word that is severely outdated in the discussion of gender and of sexual orientation. We need more words to describe the different types of relationships on the scale of normal these days.

How do we describe our relationships with our partner(s)? A married couple might use words like "husband," or "wife," or the gender-neutral "spouse." Dating couples might use words like "boyfriend," "girlfriend," or the gender-neutral partner. These are all well and good but when it comes down to it the variety of possible relationships in the realm of normal leads to confusion when faced with such limited vocabulary. Assuming a heterosexual relationship, we must consider that people often cohabitate for years before getting married. At what point do you switch from using descriptors like "boyfriend/girlfriend" and start using "husband/wife?" If you identify as common-law, perhaps you use "husband/wife." More likely, you have opted for the more vague term "spouse." But what if you don't identify as common-law? My partner and I have been dating since 2011, and living together, on and off since 2013. This is not due to any falling outs within the relationship, just the modern realities of job instabilities and having to go where the work is. As such we are not considered common-law. I have opted for the term "partner" to describe our relationship to other people, husband is inaccurate, and significant other seems too cold. On numerous occasions my word choice has lead to some interesting assumptions by my audience. To me "partner" seems less wishy-washy than "boyfriend." It displays a slightly higher level of commitment. Apparently to other people is flags me as being in a homosexual relationship. The word "partner" is beginning to take on a new meaning, that might not have been perceived 1 decade or 2 decades ago. This is a mark of progress, but also a cause of much annoyance for me.

I appreciate that language changes over time, in fact, I embrace it. For me it seems that language is not changing fast enough. We need more words. We need new words. We need words to describe things that previous generations would never have even dreamed of describing!

"Partner" is being correctly used as gender-neutral. It is a safe word for remaining vague at job interviews or with people you've just met. You want to divulge some information about yourself, but not too much. We need a similar word to use as marriage-neutral. We need a word to describe commitment, without engagement or marriage being a factor. People get married later. People cohabitate before marriage. These trends are here to stay; it is time for language to catch up!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thinking about Dreams, and Children's Stories

I often dream that I am running away, or rather, that I am being chased. Usually I am being chased by people with no faces or by people I don't actually see in my dreamscape, but only know are somewhere behind me, following. I've had this dream for years, and the scenery changes, but the element of being chased continues. Often when I wake up I wonder what I am running from. What is the metaphor? What do I run from in my real life? Occasionally, these dreams take on a more hopeful quality, where I'm still being chased, but I'm running towards something valuable as well. 

Last night, for instance, I was being chased but I fell into a river with colleague and we lost the people chasing us. Then we scaled a rock face and came out in a strange tunnel in the jungle. We followed the tunnel, among twisted tree roots, and emerged in a place that looked like a paradise. It was a youth hostel of sorts, but it was specifically for girls and the woman who ran it was extremely intuitive. She was maybe in her thirties, but she was wise like an old grandmother. I felt like she had something to teach me, but unfortunately I woke up before that happened, so all I was able to glean from her was some spicy shrimp soup, and not the kind with potatoes. There were two kinds, and I chose wrong. It was good anyways. 

Thinking back, I don't think I ever had dreams about being chased until I was a teenager. At least not by faceless people. Once I dreamed I was in the caves at Ainsworth hot springs with my father and when we turned the corner there was a door and when the door opened there was a wolf. Not a real wolf. Not quite a werewolf either. More like the personified wolf in the Three Little Pigs, who stands on his hind legs like a person. The wolf chased us. It was a short ordeal before I woke up, not long and epic like my chase dreams now. 

However, it gets me thinking about the story about the Three Little Pigs. I get the part about the houses made of straw, wood, and bricks, but why is it pigs, and why the big bad wolf? Why didn't they just use people? The animals in the story act like people anyways, and walk on their hind legs. There are lots of classic children's stories with animals. For example, Aesop's fables almost exclusively use animals, but the animals don't act like people. They are animals because they walk on all fours and have the characteristics you expect out of that animal, such as the fox being cunning. In Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Bears act somewhat human by living in a house and eating porridge and sleeping in beds. Yet, bears do actually stand on their hind legs so this is somewhat less startling. The Bears still act like bears. They get angry with goldilocks and act in the growls way you might imagine a bear to act. So why do the animals in the Three Little Pigs act so differently? One might argue that a wolf is scary and makes a good villain, but wolves usually hunt in packs and this story has only one. The wolf acts much more human than wolf. There is also the problem of the pigs. Pigs are smart, but most people think of pigs as fat, sloppy and lazy. You could say the pig who builds the house out of straw acts very much how you'd expect a pig to act. That does not explain the actions of the pig who builds the house out of bricks. It is this pig, who acts out of his own nature, who is rewarded for his actions. The whole story is very confusing. It is clear that the animals are actually meant to be human, so why use animals at all?!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Letter to La Senza Canada

La Senza Canada
To Whom It May Concern,

I would like to make a suggestion regarding your products, specifically bras. I have been shopping at La Senza for approximately 10 years, and up until recently have found your products to be high quality, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, functional. In the last 2-3 years there has been some change in the way you make your bras. Push-up/padded bras have become a popular style. While I agree that some people may find these appealing, since it is considered to be beautiful to have a large bust, I naturally have bust size working in my favor when it comes to cultural expectations. What I am saying is, I have a D cup. I don’t need padding. It looks ridiculous to make my bust any larger than it already is, and furthermore, padded bras don’t fit right. If I buy my size at your store in a non-padded style it fits perfectly. However, when I buy a padded bra, I fall out. Why? The cup is too short because the padding takes up most of the space where my breast is supposed to go.

Every time I walk into your store I immediately ask for a non-padded bra in my size. The sales representative shows me about two, plain, boring options that are in stock and then informs me they have a sale on padded bras. There is no sale on the non-padded bras making them at least double the price. The sales representative suggests I try on the padded bras because they are sure I will find, “They are actually very comfortable.” One sales representative, who was a fair bit older than myself actually told me, “Honey, when you get to be my age you’ll appreciate the extra support.” Well, thanks for that evaluation, but right now I could really use a non-padded, well-fitted, and functional bra! 

The last time I was in your store I purchased one non-padded bra for $48 and two padded bras at 2 for $45. News flash. I have worn the padded bras about twice in 6 months because I fall out, and the non-padded bra gets worn so often it almost needs to be replaced. In addition, the padded bras have straps that constantly come loose from their fastening. They have those “flexible straps” that you can move to make an x pattern over your back or leave straight. Now I have had bras with those type of straps before and they have never come undone as many times as these straps do!

So here’s my suggestion. You can continue to make padded bras in the smaller sizes; I know people who buy them. But please, anyone with a C-cup or higher doesn’t need them! Offer more selection of non-padded bras, and would it kill you to put them on sale sometimes? I would appreciate it!


Friday, November 29, 2013

I'm Offended that you are Offended: An Offensive Article

So I was reading posts on Facebook, because it is a Friday evening and I had a long week. I'm a teacher and my students are high energy. In addition my apartment runs out of heat and water about twice a week. This isn't the slums, the whole town is like this. Anyways, I stumbled on a Republican rant. You really must check it out! I am not American. I don't even care if someone is Republican or Democrat. Some people really go off the deep end of the political spectrum (on either side) though! Canadian politics usually pale in comparison to the sheer nuttiness of American politics. (Except lately, because our current PM is the type of buffoon you'd expect to see in the first round of a "Got Talent" show. You know the ones... they always think they're amazing and then the judges send them off the stage in a walk of shame.)

Anyways, this is the most hilarious thing I have ever read. I can only assume Nagikistan was actually supposed to be Tajikistan! I can't even bother to point out the other flaws in this post because I am laughing too hard. The real icing on the cake is the posting policy for comments on this page! Did you read it? "We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse." How many of these rules did Mr. Wurzelbacher break when writing this article which I can only assume to be comedy? If he can't follow proper posting policy how can anyone else be expected to?!

If the link above didn't work try this one:

Monday, October 21, 2013


So earlier today I watched this video:

It was a big coincidence I had been thinking about honesty a lot lately and how it affected my life. You see, I have been having this feeling lately like I need to be more genuine. The trouble is, it doesn't always work well. For example, in job interviews. I am quite sure a few of my job interviews this summer didn't go too well because I was being too honest. That said, if I have to lie to get a job, I'm not sure that I really want it. I don't care if it is what people would call a "white lie," it's still a lie and lying is a curse. If you aren't being honest with your employer from the get-go that surely spells that things aren't going to meet either of your expectations in the long run.

Also, coworkers don't really want to know about you, they just want to make small talk. The truth is I really hate small talk. It is a whole lot of saying nothing. Things are so much simpler without it.

I feel like I need a change. If I could work for myself I could avoid some of these problems, but I feel uninspired as to what I would do to be self-employed. I'm rather bad at self-motivation.

Anyways, if I hurt anyone's feelings... it is because I am trying to be more honest. And honesty is sometimes not what people want to hear.

(And I am honestly tired, so forgive my spelling/grammar.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Success and Fear

Lately, I have felt out of touch spiritually and have been looking for a solution. Tonight I stumbled on this guided meditation by my friend, Tami Jackson, which I found to be very helpful. It helped me to relax enough that I was able to talk to my inner self and to spirit guides to get the information I needed to move ahead.

There is a lot of fear in today's society and fear can keep you from achieving your dreams, speaking up, standing up for your beliefs, and generally enjoying life. Fear can make you sick. It can ruin your relationships. The bottom line is fear is extremely destructive. How do you overcome or manage fear? Here are some good ideas:

Humour, positivity, and laughter also vanquish fear. Remember to never discount your fears. Acknowledge them but don't let them keep you from doing anything. My guides told me that one thing I need to work on is positive speech. I have long held the view that no word in the English language should be off limits if it accurately expresses a feeling. However, my guides tell me there is some wisdom in making certain words taboo. It is not the words themselves, but the negative connotations that can influence your life in a way best avoided. They also suggested I read more because it will expand my current bank of positive words to use. I have been avoiding reading lately because frankly I find a lot of new books to have disappointing plots. I guess it is time to peruse the library...

My guides also say correct diet is important to a positive, happy, and healthy life. I am not going to suggest any specific diet, because only you will know what is best for you! For me I need to eat less junk food and reduce allergen intake. Oddly enough I feel less inclined to curbing my erratic sleep schedule until I need to for professional reasons. My natural sleep schedule is what is best for my current needs.

The other important thing is to do what you enjoy. I love drinking tea, cooking good food, meeting up and chatting with friends, doing creative activities, taking long walks, listening to chill music, and a myriad of other things I'm too lazy to list off. Do what you love. Never feel guilty about it. Be accepting of other people as they do what they love. Be humble and gracious in the face of praise. Love your life. Be Happy.

It really is that simple, and yet it is so easy to forget. Relax. Do the meditation above. Master your fears. Do what you love, and remember that people who criticize you are just upset because they haven't mastered their own fears yet. Fear makes people mean, and it is hard for fearful people to acknowledge your success. Laugh it off and be patient. They'll get there eventually.

Also, you don't have to believe in the supernatural or in spirit guides or any of that to be successful. Just follow the steps. Believe whatever you want to believe and achieve what you want to achieve! All of this free of charge, but you have to do the work!