Wonder Woman is an Immigrant!

I hate doing topical posts, but this feels important. There have been any number of thinkpieces about Wonder Woman and the movie’s importance to female representation on the silver screen. There have also been thinkpieces about the inadequacy of Wonder Woman in that way (a white, cis-gendred, rail thin, young woman with symettrical features is hardly the Every Woman).

But before I get to Wonder Woman, a little story.

Continue reading “Wonder Woman is an Immigrant!”

Pet Causes

Five years ago, I got a dog for the first time. He was rescued from a puppy mill up up in King City. He was shaved down from his first ever trip to the vet. Friends described his gaze as a thousand mile stare. Among his many medals was an odd gait from a broken leg in puppyhood that didn’t heal properly. Another was a series of scars on his chest. His tail had been cut off.

Over the first three days, he subsisted exclusively on treats and garbage that he stole when we weren’t looking while a bowl full of kibble sat untouched in our kitchen. The first time we turned on the sink in the tub, he created what we lovingly dubbed a poop circle in the living room.

In no particular order, things he’s found frightening are plastic bags, parking meters, a mattress unexpectedly perched on a table, white haired white people,  men, smokers, buses, subways, my Mac, brooms, a tree he wasn’t expecting, a five pound puppy, a swing, feet, a loud fart, a squirrel that decided that it wasn’t going to run when given chase.

It’s been a few years. He is a much braver boy now. He doesn’t skitter when we try to step over him when we’re cooking. He loves my mom, who’s a smoker, and my father-in-law, a white man with white hair. He LOVES kibble, even if he prefers shrimp. He loves everything that moves for him, including subways and buses.

But he still can’t walk up on the metal stairs in a playground. He still freaks out at sudden noises and tall white men and has a cautious distrust of the broom. And this trauma didn’t have to happen. It didn’t. But it did, and it continues to happen to animals the planet over. And Ralph, while adorable, is the tip of a much larger problem.

When bill C-246 was being debated, people I spoke to, even those deeply committed to social justice, couldn’t understand why anyone would care about “some animal stuff” when there are “bigger issues” at stake. Some campaigned against it because Parliament shouldn’t debate this until other things were settled. The bill was handily defeated.

This is emblematic of a bigger trend I’ve noticed where there are “correct” things to worry about and the small potatoes that everyone else worries about #firstworldproblems. That sort of ideology is problematic on a number of levels, including the inference that one is only capable of worrying about one thing at a time. I don’t know about you, but I usually worry about 5-10 things minimum at any given time.

The biggest problem with this type of thinking though, is that it divides us. Those in power are united in their goals of retaining their power, increasingly at the cost of our rights and freedoms, at the cost of our already fragile democracies.

Meanwhile, we squabble amongst ourselves because for one person, standing up for animal welfare resonates most strongly, while for another it might be the eradication of a certain disease, upholding civil rights, defeating white supremacy, demanding a more equatable political system, undoing colonialism, protecting the environment, education reform, providing access to sexual health services, demanding gender equality, supporting the sciences, promoting your faith and the good works it requires, and on and on.

The fact is that for the most part, when decent people are exposed to an injustice, any injustice, they’ll probably say – “hey, that’s bullshit. Don’t do that.” There’s just only so much time in the day, and you’re generally most effective when you take on a small corner and keeps nipping at it till the needle moves. I think perhaps this need to create a hierarchy of suffering is a response to this desperate need to make sense of our beautiful, messed up world.

So there are a LOT of things that you might care about that you, for completely legitimate reasons, just don’t have the bandwidth to add to, and that’s okay. There are so many things that need fixing, and we can’t all do everything.

BUT.

We can hold each other up. We can support each other. We can say, “this isn’t my baby, but it is an important thing nonetheless, and I am happy someone is working on it. When one injustice is addressed, it makes everyone else’s battle that much easier.”

The next few years are going to be difficult, frustrating, and scary. The list of things that need doing is enormous and grows daily, but we can get through it if we help each other out when we can, and get out of the way when we can’t. The sooner we realize that our goals are not in competition but in harmony, the stronger we will be.

A Moderate Perspective of the Black Lives Matter Protest at Pride

There has been a lot written about this protest already, but it seems every article falls neatly into one of two categories – either the author is calling BLM Toronto a bunch of wanton criminals or unquestionable heroes. To be honest, I think most people actually fall somewhere in the middle, and don’t really know what to think.

So I’m here to offer the perspective of a hard core moderate that might help you with your own thoughts on this. Continue reading “A Moderate Perspective of the Black Lives Matter Protest at Pride”

The democracy of modern narcisism

It seems like every week we now see a new article, or an old one making the rounds again, telling us that the end is near, because millennials are doing [insert your preferred activity]. The most common one that comes up is that Kids These Days are so obsessed with their smellfies and their instergramers that they are literally destroying the world with their obsession to capture and shares their lives online.

Full disclosure – while a millennial, I almost never take selfies of any kind. When I do, I post maybe 1% of them, usually because my dog is involved and not to share him with the world is basically a crime.

King Ralph.JPG
Bonus points if I’m not there at all.

I do not have a flickr account, instagram, snapchat, and whatever else Kids These Days are using.

The argument seems to go that our generation is somehow more vain that previous generations, more coddled, more needy, and every other pedantic way of saying that this generation, by virtue of nothing but its birth into a world created by the previous generation, makes it the Worst Generation.

But is narcissism something new? Definitively, no. While many of my compatriots would take this opportunity to take a jab at our favorite villain, this was absolutely also not invented by Baby Boomers.

Humans are just narcissists. How else would we have grown as we have, from a few hundred thousand smart monkeys to the most powerful species on the planet? We did it because we figured we were better, straight from the caves. What is art if not an attempt to rationalize our minds, to express ourselves, to leave something of who we are behind – assuming that this would of course be of value to someone down the line.

Before there were cell phone selfies, people took selfies on their desktops, like savages. Before that, people took them with their film cameras. We’ve been taking selfies since the invention of the camera, and before that we commissioned artists to paint our portraits, stared at mirrors, our reflection in glass or lakes, or drew stick figures with coal inside a cave of us catching that deer like a badass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
So self indulgent.

Then what has actually changed? Simple. Cameras cost money. Computers, back in the day, were quite expensive. Commissioned paintings were only available to the wealthy. We used to only see the remains of the upper classes because only they got to make anything that lasted. At most, we would see the bones of the poor. Even their homes, made of poop and hey (true story), didn’t last long enough for us to know them.

Now, everyone has a voice. Everyone gets to commission a painting of themselves and hang it in their digital castle to be admired by… Probably the same number of people, really.

If this is end of humanity, then it is an end millennia in the making. But maybe this is just the next stage for us, one where people learn that they don’t have to have money or come from money to matter. I’ll happily take the blame for that.

Raging Against Trump Makes him Stronger

There has been a lot of hate aimed at the republican party lately, even from within. A bulk of this anger has been directed at Donald Drumpf, self-made bankruptaire. Of course, he makes it easy, but that is sort of his plan, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing – Drumpf’s success, as has been pointed out ad nauseum all over the internetz, is based on his ability to appeal to emotion rather than logic. So why are we all trying to reason with people who clearly feel that normal logic has betrayed them. These are folks that have been lied to by politicians for years, and screwed in the process. These are folks that are, in many cases, worse off than their parents – likely in part because their privilege isn’t the black Amex it used to be.

The thing is though, that until we try to see the world from their perspective, until we recognize that the reason Drumpf, Cruz, and Rubio – all nutjobs in their own right, are so popular is because of a fundamental problem with the way we perform democracy, we will continue to polarize.

I often think about Daryl Davis, a African-American man who went out of his way to befriend Klansmen. His wisdom, his courage, his bottomless heart in the face of hate. I think the best way to take away the power of people like Drumpf just to be a bit more like Daryl. So let’s stop mocking Drumpf fans and try to understand them, because hate only breeds hate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totally selfish reasons to care about #blacklivesmatter and #oscarssowhite

With the drama around the Oscars controversy and the pretty terrible things some have said about it, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post to help people who do not see the effects of racial inequality understand why it matters, even to you.

So, if you’d like to know why, dear white reader with zero personal stake in racial equality, you should still really really care about it nonetheless, read on!

Continue reading “Totally selfish reasons to care about #blacklivesmatter and #oscarssowhite”

I Wish I could be a Pro-Lifer

I am an enthusiastic advocate for women’s rights. A part of the discussion around women’s rights, sometimes all the discussion, focuses on women’s bodies. What they can, can’t, should, shouldn’t, etc do/feel about them.

Back in high school, I was very much against abortion except for in the most severe of circumstances.

In fact, it still feels disingenuous to me when we start arguing technicalities about when someone is a person versus a fetus or whatever. What really drove me from the Pro-Life camp had nothing to do with that argument at all.

Continue reading “I Wish I could be a Pro-Lifer”