Monday, 15 September 2014

Respectability vs RESPECT: Part One

R•E•S•P•E•C•T  is of course:

Respectability is a different kettle of fish, however.  The very foundation of patriarchy is cemented with the premise that only some women are respectable - that is, worthy and deserving of respect - and others are NOT.

My co-blogger fern hill recently addressed the *stigma* of abortion. And we have many more blogposts at DJ! that challenge the notion that respectable women should grieve, do penance, and wear ashes on their head when a pregnancy - their OWN, in fact - is terminated. By choice.  Or when it's forcibly rejected by the body, an occurrence that happens regularly.

By way of an example, Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' disclosure of how and why she had two abortions, illustrates the division between what is considered a 'respectable' abortion and what is not. 

"For a woman to reveal she has had an abortion because she wanted one, because she couldn't emotionally sacrifice for another child, because she was remiss in her use of contraception, and, further, to declare she has only felt happiness towards her decision is truly groundbreaking. Davis' abortion narrative has helped diminish the social stigma surrounding abortion. But until the “bad” abortion stories are just as acceptable, pro-choice advocates have a long way to go."

From must-read: _Wendy Davis and the 'Good Abortion' Myth_ found here.

Respectability is at issue with regard to abortion because when women have sex, consensually or not, that can produce a pregnancy - unwanted or planned.

Sex as procreative versus sex as a recreative activity.  Also, sex as gender bigotry.

Yesterday some hack writer, compensating for whatever pathetic sense of inadequacy seized him, dismissed Naomi Klein and her recent publication in calculated, malevolent, gendered, barnyard animal terms.  

Not even bothering to address or refute her arguments, he deems her stupid. 

There you have it. But wait, here is more to consider.

As observed: "...the word cow is a put down to women but the term bull is considered a compliment for men." 

Note also in the exchange cited above, the comparison used when vilifying mayoral candidate Olivia Chow.  Her competitor John Tory said that she had "more positions than Masters and Johnson".  

"Respectability" is a toxic judgement passed on women and the last remaining double standard for judging women's choices and behaviours as indecent.  Feminists of African, Indigenous and Asian ancestry have identified the use of "respectability" politics as a weapon specifically used to target women of colour (WoC) for social opprobrium.

An incident which unfolded in Los Angeles last week gained publicity when Danièle Watts, who was intimidated and humiliated when police profiled her as prostitute, spoke up.  

Her experience is not unusual. As evident from the insult slung at Ms Chow by her opponent, these assumptions of impropriety about racialized women are claimed by men who reduce them to female beings unworthy of respect, with little or no resources other than the unbridled hyper-sexuality that is projected upon their bodies.

Next: Part Two will examine how respectability politics reinforce whorephobia as a partisan neo-conservative tactic to divide women and destroy solidarity among feminists. Read the blogpost from @kwetoday that I've linked to, above.

A Postive Abortion Story

[Guest post by Jaden Fitzherbert, cross-posted at NB Media Co-op.]

Here is my story.

I had a miscarriage before I made my abortion appointment. I realized that I was pregnant in my third year of university, when I got back from Christmas break. I had denied it for about a month and when I arrived back in Fredericton and still felt ill and hadn’t gotten my period I decided that I should take a pregnancy test.

I bussed to Wal-Mart, bought the test and ashamedly took the bus back to my UNB residence. How could I possibly be pregnant? I was well educated on safe sex practices, I was using birth control and my partner at the time was using condoms. I waited in my room, alone and terrified about seeing a positive pregnancy test, the few minutes that I waited seemed like an eternity. With shaky hands I checked the result. There it was, mocking almost, a positive pregnancy test. I was devastated. I wasn’t ready to become a mother, heck, I wasn’t even sure if I ever wanted to have kids. I knew in my heart that my current partner was not the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I knew that I did not want to raise a child with him.

There is this strange feeling, one that I’ve heard other women who have experienced unwanted pregnancies describe, a feeling that your body no longer belongs to you, that you are no longer in control of what is happening to you. I decided at that moment that I would call the Morgentaler Clinic in the morning and make an appointment for an abortion. I didn’t have the money to pay for it, but I also knew that it would take too long to get a referral from my doctor (assuming that he would give me the referral), and go through the public system, so I decided that I would somehow come up with the money to pay for the procedure.

I went to bed that night, crying, not because I was sad or felt guilty about my decision, but because I knew what an uphill battle it was going to be. I woke up in the middle of the night with intense cramps, I had no idea what was going on, but I spent the rest of the night in the fetal position on the bathroom floor. Finally I passed what I assume was the fetus. I distinctly remember feeling so incredibly relieved, I was no longer pregnant, and I did not have to try to come up with the money for my abortion. It was like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

At first I didn’t tell anyone about what had happened, not my then partner, not my parents and not my friends. I was afraid that people would judge me for feeling so happy and relieved that I had had a miscarriage. After a few months I started opening up about my experience and people shamed me -judged me. People told me that I should grieve the loss of my pregnancy, even though the pregnancy was unwanted to begin with. I stopped telling people, and went on with my life as if it had never happened. This was four years ago, and I’ve decided to no longer be silent.

Two years ago I started volunteering at the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic, and I was amazed by what I found there. I was welcomed, with open arms, into a community of people who were loving, compassionate and they taught me that I should not feel ashamed about my feelings towards my miscarriage and unwanted pregnancy, but most importantly, they taught me that, contrary to what I had been told by other people. I wasn’t broken.

I’ve never felt regret or grieved over my miscarriage, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point in my life, and for that I am eternally thankful and grateful. There are many women, who like me, are happy, healthy, who have no regrets and who do not grieve their abortions or their miscarriages, but a lot of the time our voices get lost in the shame that is projected on to us from the anti-choice movement that tells us if we don’t feel grief or regret we are not “real women” or we are terrible people.

To all the women out there who feel as though they are unable to speak out about their experience, you are loved and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not broken.

* * * * * *

Here at DJ! we've written often about the shameful and illegal abortion access situation in New Brunswick.

We've also written about the effects of stigmatization of abortion.

Abortion is a normal part of women's lives. It is an ordinary, safe medical procedure. There should be NO barriers and NO stigma to it.

There is a general provincial election in New Brunswick on September 22. Will politicians listen to the good sense of the people? Or will they continue to treat New Brunswickers like irresponsible children?

Stay tuned.

By the way, DAMMIT JANET! welcomes abortion stories. They are common and we will print yours, with or without your name.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Wacking the Piñata. With updates!

C36 — the Harper government, with its usual doublespeak flair, titles it the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act — is just one MASSIVE piñata of a Bill.  And when it is whacked, all sorts of goodies come tumbling out. Like Don the Plumber's John School™ - but more on that, later.

No no no.  This piñata  is NOT what you think it is.  Get your mind OUT of the gutter.

This piñata was previously a commemorative War of 1812™ genuine papier mâché artillery cannon replica produced for its never-ending celebrations and now recycled by the ever-so thrifty Harper government. It was spray-painted Barbie™ pink to please the ladies. 

"What's in the C36 piñata ?" you may ask.  Although it was thoroughly wacked at the House of Commons Justice Committee proceedings, it appears that more goodies are popping out for the Senate committee studying the bill.

MacKay, speaking to reporters, said the Conservative government decided to take a calculated risk that any Charter challenge would ultimately fail.

That’s largely because, he said, the law is a legal shift towards outlawing the purchase of sex and viewing prostitution as the exploitation of “vulnerable” women, not the nuisance targeted under the now-unconstitutional laws against street prostitution or bawdy houses. 

The bill doesn’t “enable prostitution” but it will still allow those who “claim to freely choose” prostitution to do so safely, work indoors or hire body guards, said MacKay. It gives “legal immunity” to prostitutes, and so directly “responds to” the Supreme Court of Canada’s concerns in its Bedford ruling in December, MacKay told a Senate committee studying the amended bill. [...]

MacKay said he made his own assessment after discussions with “other lawyers and judges.” He shrugged off the prospect of more court battles.

“I’ve been around this place a while,” MacKay said. “I’ve practiced law, I’ve argued both for and against certain Charter submissions. But I don’t suffer from Charter constipation.”

So. The unCONstipated Minister for Lady Parts and Weaponry Peter MacKay claims that sexworkers will get "legal immunity". 

Some senators, who are also lawyers, are not so sure how that "legal immunity" would apply.  

Wait!!! Here's a thought. Why can't the C36 pinãta offer "legal immunity" to ALL women and girls who suffer any form of sexualized violence? Most harassment and rape isn't perpetrated by clients or johns. Shouldn't every woman and every girl be *rescued* from daily sexualized violence too?

One man speaking to senators was adamant that clients should all attend John School; his contention was that "fathers and grandfathers" who buy sex services are completely transformed by the program.  Presumably none of them ever sexually harass or violate ANY woman EVER again.

(Hell, why not send every Tom, Dick or Harry to John School?  That's the ticket; compel all boys and men to complete this program; those who actually don't coerce women (or pay them) to have sex can mentor the ones who do.  Surely that's the logical outcome to C36, if the premise is actually what the Cons pretend it is.... Aaaaand, make sure CPC MP Bob Dechert is sitting in a desk at the front.)

Then there's senator Plett — so thoroughly repulsed and disgusted by sexwork that he would deprive sexworkers, specially those who have chosen this work, of legal protection and their right to safety. 

Employees in high-injury-risk occupations as varied as firefighters, healthcare professionals, cops, stunt performers, soldiers and pro athletes choose their work because of the high income, the benefits and the opportunities they derive from it.  But Plett doesn't see any of that; he is affronted that defiant women won't be shamed nor called victims, thus he wants them to be threatened, endangered and harmed.

Sour grapes! Bitter candy! Mouldy sweets! Senator Donald Plett wants those BAD women who don't want want to be rescued, PUNISHED!

My co-blogger fern hill looked into Plett's background. Hint: he's no lawyer but some of his best Con friends are...

The biggest, sparkliest, juiciest goody in the C36 piñata is that mythical whopping 20 Million $$$ that would ostensibly fund "rescue" programs that Evangelicals and Prohibitionists who support the bill would be awarded.  And Con MP Joy Smith's Foundation would get a chunk of that money too, with no pesky CRA audits I bet!

My suggestion: 

The Senate committee continues to hears presentations today.

In case you've missed it, go read @kwetoday's brief to the Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs, here.  It exposes what a hollow, empty sham C36 really is. 

UPDATE: Plett the Plumber continues to blurt out loud the malevolent, sexist, gynophobic premise at the core of C36:

From this account of the second day of the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee hearings on C36:

Here's another report from that day from Star journalist Tonda MacCharles. It was lively!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Stigma persists despite decriminalization

In the UK, there is continuing, yea, endless, blather about fetal viability and therefore abortion time limits.

This comes up every time there is a report on the survival of an extreme neonate. Here's some info on these births, aka "miracle babies." (Spoiler alert: only 1% have fully "able-bodied lives.")

But no matter.

They are talking about viability again, who sets the rules for abortion time limits, does UK need abortion law reform. Yada-yada.

Here's Clare Murphy, a director at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK equivalent of Planned Parenthood, with a radical notion.
Murphy believes that we need a reform of abortion law, but rather than shorten the time limit, suggests it would be more helpful to remove it entirely.

“In an ideal world we would do what Canada has done: take abortion out of criminal law altogether and regulate it like other aspects of women’s reproductive healthcare. Canada has no time limit on abortion – it hasn’t seen an increase in later abortions. In fact, the proportion is similar to that of the UK,” she explains.

Well, yeah. But those are just facts.

Then the columnist indulges in a little fantasy.
I suspect that in Canada, it’s easier to have a discussion about abortion. If I thought of it as an entirely medical matter, I wouldn’t be scared to mention it to my friends and I’m sure they’d feel more comfortable asking me for any support they needed. We can’t afford to stigmatise it when it could affect us all.
That suspicion would be wrong. Abortion is as stigmatized in Canada as in most other places.

The difference is that we have have no law on it.

But yeah, the rest of the world would do well to follow our lead on this.

Totally the Same

Sad story. With bonus despicably dishonest reporting.

A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for obtaining so-called abortion pills online and providing them to her teenage daughter to end her pregnancy.

Jennifer Ann Whalen, 39, of Washingtonville, a single mother who works as a nursing home aide, pleaded guilty in August to obtaining the miscarriage-inducing pills from an online site in Europe for her daughter, 16, who did not want to have the child.

Terrible situation, but reporting is OK so far. There are some details on how difficult and expensive it would be to access abortion at a clinic.

After taking the pills, the daughter had complications, was admitted to hospital, where nosy-parkers called the police. And now here they are.

Did you catch the key point there?

The story continues.
The Pennsylvania case follows the prosecution of a Florida man who pleaded guilty to tricking his girlfriend into taking an abortion pill. He was sentenced in January to 13 years in prison and $28,500 restitution. In June, Florida toughened state law to allow for prosecutions in the death of non-viable fetuses.
Totally the same, right? Mother tries to help her daughter end unwanted pregnancy. Man tries to trick girlfriend into abortion/miscarriage.

And this is a Reuters story that has been picked up by every MSM outlet I can find.

But the Fetus Freak media has a bit of additional information: the woman got off easy.
In addition to the prison sentence, Montour County Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Norton ordered Whalen to pay a $1,000 fine and perform 40 hours of community service upon her release.  The maximum penalty for performing an illegal abortion in Pennsylvania is seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

And don't forget: this is the same RWNJ demographic who goes batshit over parental consent regulations. They demand the right to give withhold consent to their children needing abortions.

These people want the right to force their children to bear children but want parents who help their children avoid bearing unwanted children to go to prison.

OK then.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Clarke does for the Canadian National Firearms Association...

what Levant does for Tar Sands extraction corporations.

We suspect both of them do it for money, as mercenaries and paid lobbyists. Perhaps also out of love for the *cause* they promote.

Each one brings to advocacy endeavours a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience.

Ericka, however, is able to harness some persuasive arguments that Ezra cannot.

My co-blogger fern hill wrote a blogpost which features a photograph of Clarke with the Minister of Justice for the Harper government and Kurtis Gaucher, that Press Progress published

When that photograph went viral, Petey MacKay was asked why he donned the shirt, claimed it was a wounded Canadian veteran (Gaucher) who requested it, yadayadayada...

As fern hill pointed out in her screen caps as well as a very revealing one from PatRiotChick, it was all a RUSE engineered by Clarke.  And MacKay was duped. DUPED!!!

*Mind you, Ericka appears to be as dim as Ezra, and she has yet to master the obstreperous bullying techniques that he has perfected as a StunTV host.


But as you can see from the photographs above and this one, and that one; she has different tactics at her command.  No matter that her gallery of photos on her Facebook account (now locked) looked eerily like those posted by Michele McPherson - Bruce Carson's fiancée - when she was a sex worker advertising "the Girl Friend Experience".

Lobbying is a complicated job which requires that supplicants hired by corporate interests or other organizations, meet politicians to secure their collaboration.  Much has been written about the talents female lobbyists must deploy to win the support of powerful men.  While official meetings held in public officials' and government buildings must be recorded as well as any campaign or party contributions, quid pro quo may cover a wide range of mutually beneficial favours.

So, let's assume that Ericka Clarke is employed respectably and honourably in the performance of her duties, and that she is NOT a woman who needs rescuing from a dodgy organization that trafficks her talents to members of the Harper Conservative government.  Let take as a given, just as Kate Heartfield outlined here, that Clarke is NOT “selling her body” or “selling herself” for the purpose of promoting CNFA and its goals. 

No need to involve MP Joy Smith and Cons' prurient concerns and beliefs about the rampant sexual exploitation of women and girls that were spewed during the Justice Committee hearings about C36.  Clarke's interactions with CNFA, its membership and the politicians she meets are seemingly professional, consensual and not coercive.

In fact, her status and working conditions are much better than those imposed upon young women hired by PETA to stage a "protest" aka publicity stunt during the Ottawa Ribfest.  Those employees are the equivalent of female servers in the employment of Hooters.  It is a job requirement that they display their bodies in the uniforms provided by their employer, albeit a less revealing one for restaurant staff.

Sadly though, CNFA does not appear to value Clarke's role as a 'field officer' highly enough to put her name on this very special invitation sent to MacKay and his "fellow" MPs (CPC only?).  Perhaps she'll be present as bullet buffer and spirit-fluffer, unless the association didn't appreciate the frenzied media brouhaha she created.

Ericka Clarke and Ezra Levant.  We may disagree with the goals and ideology of the organizations that pay their salaries.  Both are workers toiling, as many of us choose or are obliged to do, in the bowels of capitalist enterprises.  We may mock their words, expose their lies, deconstruct their odious tactics.  If they attack those who criticize their Over Lords, we will push back - as hard as we can.

This is a blogpost we published shortly after the Moncton shootings, questioning the premise of the NFA and its lobbying efforts in Canada.

*After reviewing the docs that I screencapt'ed in preparation for this blogpost, I realize that I forgot to insert that one as an example of Ericka's skills. So, there it is.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

No Compromise MacKay

Press Progress published this photo today.

Yes, indeed, friends of Peace, Order, and Good Government, that is Canada's Minister of Justice and Attorney General pandering his foul ass off.

It apparently comes from a tweet by Ericka Clarke, who identifies herself as "NFA Field Officer."

That would be the National Firearms Association.

As Clarke points out, the corrupted Canadian maple leaf symbol is captioned "No Compromise."

Let's have a closer look at it from NFA's swag page. These are pins on offer.

(Isn't that sweet? They offer a girly-pink version.)

Now, I don't know anything about guns, but that doesn't look like a varmint-scaring or freezer-filling type weapon to me.

Moreover, the phrase itself is lifted from the org's bigger and scarier USian cousin, the mega-lobby National Rifle Association.

Sadly, cosmic synchronicity strikes.

The top news story today is about a 9-year-old killing her instructor with an Uzi at a place called "Bullets and Burgers." (You can't make this shit up.)

Also, from the Cosmic Whup-Ass Department, there's another story on the latest CONservative fearmongering fundraising flyer, touting "traditional family values."

Under a section entitled "I stand with the Conservative Party on the following issues," the members are asked to check off those that apply. "Respecting traditional family values," is one of the options, along with "safe and sensible firearms policies" and "tough-on-crime approach."

If only the CON Brain [sic] Trust could have seen into the future, I'm sure another option would have been "respecting the rights of young children to play with heavy assault weapons while their parents had a burger and a brew".

As I asked on Twitter: Has any other Attorney General of a supposedly civilized nation ever panderingly posed with butchered national logo on his chest with a bunch of gunnnutz?

I'm pretty sure no other Canadian Attorney General has.

But then no other Canadian Attorney General has posed with a police department and a tank before either.

That's New Glascow, Nova Scotia, population in 2011 a tad over 9,000.

So, fellow and sister Canadians, is Canada unrecognizable yet?

UPDATE: Huffington Post: MacKay was duped into posing in offensive NFA t-shirt.

While that's really not hard to believe, Stephen Lautens opines:

Added: Duped is the absolutely most correct word for Petey.

MacKay has quite the history of blaming others for his boo-boos, doesn't he?

UPDATED: Challenged to make photoshop good on his Victoria's Secret idea, Stephen pops this out instead. (Some are very relieved.)


EVEN MORE: Lautens is on a roll. Check out #MacKayTees on Twitter. Fun!

UPDATE (August 28/14) About that "duped" angle.

Dammit, double dammit. Ericka Clarke insulted me on twitter four times, telling me that the other guy in the photo whom I'd called the other doofus is a vet who'd "sacrificed life and limb". She told me to "keep it classy." Just now I was trying to embed one of those tweets here and discovered that SHE'D DELETED THEM ALL AND LIKE AN IDIOT I DIDN'T TAKE SCREEN SHOTS.


The cowardice of these people knows no bounds.

MEA CULPA: I was wrong.

She didn't delete.

UPDATE: From harebell in the comments. This is priceless. The doofus is a liar and Ericka is a shameless schemer.

LAST (I promise) UPDATE: The Star ran a story on #MacKayTees with lots of Stephen Lautens's photoshopped creations but failed to credit him despite his name running up the side and the fact that the Lautens family has a long and current relationship with the paper. At his own blog, Stephen has collected the whole set for our enjoyment. Thanks, Stephen.

Leveraging Laureen: Part 2

So, how's that "leveraging Laureen" strategy going for the heartless, soulless CONservative government of Canada?

Judging from this piece from APTN (video), not well.

Herr Harper made his annual pilgrimage to the North, taking the First Cat Lady with him, and while he declined to answer any questions atall atall, Laureen deigned to answer a question about hungry children in the North with a word salad on corporate wonderfulness.

Really, watch the video at the APTN link, and more importantly, listen to the tone of it.

Wouldn't it be grand if other media outlets turned a similar critical eye on the hypocrisy of the Harper regime?

I know, I know. Too much to hope for. . .

h/t Jennifer McMackon who said: "Let them eat hockey equipment."

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Yo! Nanny Staters: Fuck Off

I am a smoker. Over the years, I've been vilified, demonized, ostracized, pitied, hectored, shunned, and shamed.

OK. Sure. I'm an addict. All addicts deserve this treatment, I guess.

But what I -- and most other addicts I'd wager -- most object to is being treated like idiots.

We know.

We know smoking is bad.

It's expensive. It stinks. It burns holes in our clothes. It stains our teeth.

It makes us sick and if it doesn't kill us, will probably contribute to our deaths or long-term ill-health.

It may harm people around us, hence self-ostracization.

We know all that.

But we are addicted to nicotine.

We try to quit. Alternate nicotine delivery systems -- patches, gum -- have deficiencies of two main types.

1. They are not like smoking: no warmth, no fiddle-factor, no-"I'm having a break"-factor.

2. The nicotine dose is not adjustable to the user's mood and need.

The fiddle-factor is surmountable. The dosage problem is not so easy.

If I light a cigarette and decide I don't really want one now, I put it out.

If I put a patch on and immediately want to puke (which is what patches do to me), I rip it off.

If I light a cigarette and get involved in reading something and forget about the cigarette, it burns away.

If I chomp down on a piece of nicotine gum, get involved in reading something, forget about the gum and chomp down a few more times absent-mindedly, I want to puke (see above).

Enter e-cigs. Dosage is variable. With added fiddle-factor fun.

They're not perfect, but they are definitely a huge advance.

But guess who doesn't like e-cigs?

Big Pharma who wants to sell us patches and gum -- outrageously over-priced patches and gum.

And Big Tobacco who doesn't want us to quit smoking.

And Nanny Staters. Who, according to Sweetie, have an addiction problem of their own. They are addicted to telling others what to do.


I don't watch much telly any more. But I remember ads with people smugly patting their upper arms: "I've got the patch." Did people go insane over that "optic"?

Oh but wait. Maybe patting the upper arm sends the "right message" whereas Nanny Staters worry about the "wrong message."

You mean like this?

From the same source, a succinct summary of the issue.

No matter how you feel about the product or the industry, electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco and lack virtually all of harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. THEY SHOULD NOT BE CLASSIFIED AS SUCH or be limited by the same harsh restrictions. So far, no adverse health effects have been associated with electronic cigarettes, yet the alcohol industry is responsible for at least 80,000 deaths each year and the media seems unconcerned about their marketing techniques. Most people acknowledge that kids should not have access to these devices, but comparing electronic cigarette companies to the tobacco industry of the past is not only unfair – it’s inaccurate. Electronic cigarettes help smokers quit and expose them to significantly less health risks. For now, consumers have a wide array of choices and full access to these products, but if the government, pharmaceutical and big tobacco companies have their way, that may be a thing of the past.

My succinct summary: Fuck right off, Nanny Staters.

ADDED: from Anonymous in the comments: UN doing Big Pharma's bidding. Again.

Study of second-hand effects of vapours. No apparent risk.

Added: deBeauxOs' response as a non-smoker:

No reply from Dr Goldman yet.