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Toronto Strong – Take to Your Porch

tostrongI firmly believe that change starts at home. Grassroots caring is the most nasty guerrilla warfare of our time.

I woke up to a wall of ‘Toronto Strong’ on social media, but when I looked out my window, there was not a soul on the street. Not a neighbour to be found.

Laundry and dishes and meal planning suddenly took a backseat to the CBC News Network’s coverage of the mass murder that played out yesterday on a stretch of a nearby Toronto street.  Colleagues of mine watched people being mowed down on the sidewalk just outside of their office, and the rest of us watched as the scene replayed over and over on screens all afternoon.

Was it a terrorist? Was it an “involuntary celibate’ (misogynist)? How can we fortify our city against these attacks? These were the predominant questions posed by the media. But these questions merely poke at the symptoms asking for band-aid answers. They don’t come anywhere near getting at the cause of the misery that is murdering our world.

Stay Strong. That’s the overwhelming populace message choking the city today.

Let me offer another perspective; stay vulnerable. Allow your grief and fear and anger an outlet. Let your community of friends embrace you as you grieve and heal.

In a world that has become lost to the miracle of humanity, one that values material success over kindness, community, and the health of our spirit, staying strong may give a message of toughness that we just don’t need.

I concede that if it were my child or loved one callously killed, I would have a rage and hate with limitless depths. It would take a fountain of caring friends to help heal that massive dark hole in my life. We need one another, not just during times of tragedy, but every day.

Our communities have disappeared into subdivisions and condos with closed doors with invisible neighbours. We are too busy fighting a modern-day-material-survival-of-the-fittest to put the kettle on and hang out on our front porches. This is the root of the problem. We are insular and inward looking.

Reaching out and getting to know your neighbours is the first step to staying strong…as a community.

 

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The Niqab Debate; A Feminist Canadian Perspective

maninchapsI’ve debated whether or not to write this post.

Let me be clear, the Niqab is a political, social and emotional hot button, and our Canadian Conservative spin-doctors hit the nail on the head when they reeled in this red herring.

This is and is not a political issue. It is because it addresses the clusterf^@k that happens when church and state mix. It is not because we should be focused on the complete erosion of democracy that has been achieved by the Conservative government.

I am by no means a social conservative. I am, however, amongst other fabulous and wonderful things, a feminist.

As a woman, the idea that any faith or culture requires a woman to hide her body reinforces the grand debate about the inequality between women and men.

It’s all bullshit folks. Women, men, and everyone who lives in the spectrum between these binary ideas of gender, deserve to be treated equally according to their achievements, gifts and status as a human being.

This morning, sipping my coffee, I read a social media post, (read it folks- it makes a great point, the twitter handle is @manwhohasitall ), which emphasized how screwed up our culture is when it comes to assigning value to typical gender roles.

The title of the article was; If we gave fathers the same nonsensical advice we give working mothers. Here are a few of the more ridiculous quotes;

TODAY’S DEBATE: Is fatherhood the end for career men?

RISE & SHINE FRAZZLED DADS! Wife & kids asleep? Now is the time to declutter cupboard under the sink & snack on your open pores. ‘Me time’.

Working husband & father? Feeling overwhelmed? YOUR FAULT. Drink more water, get up earlier & dress in your ‘wow’ colours.

Now that we have established the double-standard that still exists for working women, let me dive right in to Canadian politics and culture.

People flee to this country because it has a reputation for being nice, for offering equal opportunity, and not allowing our citizens to slit one another’s throats in the street because of basic human rights such as gender, religion, or ability differences.

You know why that exists folks? Because we separate religion from politics.

Given that the history of the niqab as religious versus cultural choice is debatable, let me hit you with a feminist, Canadian, patriotic perspective; women are sick and damn-tired of being told what to do. As Canadians, we’re sick and damn-tired of people from other countries coming here and telling us that they want the same religious-cultural government that they fled from.

If your argument is that not being allowed to wear the niqab is a religious right, perhaps you can cover your face and symbolically demean women in another country. I would never dream of travelling to Saudia Arabia, wearing a bikini and whining about being persecuted for wearing it. It just doesn’t happen.

I wouldn’t mind if all heterosexual men were mandated to wear ass-showing chaps so I could size up my next pony-ride, but I doubt that’s ever going to happen. Because it’s sexist and demeaning.

I agree with Naheed Nenshi’s latest article in the Globe and Mail which talks about Canada being a country of hope. I do not agree with starting down a slippery slope of mixing church and state via the not-so-subtle misogynistic tradition of devaluing the feminine in the name of religion, a la Niqab.

Don’t give me the ridiculous argument about Hallowe’en or Newfie Mummers. It’s not the same and you know it. You know why?  Because females and males participate equally in both. Because no one shows up at airport security, in a courtroom, or in any other situation with their face hidden. It’s a slap in the face of every woman who has ever had to fight to vote, be legally considered a person, been paid less than a man for the same job, the list goes on and on.

Yes, mandating an uncovered face would be telling women what to do, and men too. It’s also telling citizens that we are all accountable for our actions, that hiding behind religion or cultural traditions which symbolically treat women as the property of men will not be tolerated.

Like it or not, allowing the niqab to be worn in public flies in the face of women’s rights in North America. We have worked damn hard to achieve the reduced level of inequality that we have now.

Misogyny cannot hide behind a veil. Instead, that veil screams to North American women that it is alive and well.

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The Working Class

It's not always easy to find meaningful work.
It’s not always easy to find meaningful work.

The middle class is increasingly being squeezed into the lower class. It’s much like strapping a size 8 girdle on a fat chick. The wee sexy, delicious bits poke out the top end, but the rest just oozes out lower, and is far less tantalizing.

With that comes a broader, deeper, blanketing sense that the world is out to get you. No matter how hard you work, try to save, or hoped your now outdated Bachelor’s Degree would save you, the realization that this is as good as it gets depresses you even more.

Or maybe you don’t reach that obvious conclusion. Maybe you’re just bitter. Maybe you’re too lazy to think about what you read in the newspaper, or don’t see on the news.

But I don’t think that’s the case with you my sweet little dried apricots. No. If that were the case, you wouldn’t be here, with wonderful ole’ me now, would you?

If you work eye-to-eye with anyone (as in any type of customer service, or human services profession), you’re getting the short end of the stick. Someone else is making all of the money, and you’re schlepping their stuff so you can try to pay your bills.

If you were eye-to-eye with the end-user of any product or service, you get the brunt of every interaction. Some are pleasant, and others, well, let me sum it up;

1) People always think that you (personally) are trying to rip them off.

2) That your schedule should revolve around them, no matter what the hour or what the cost to you. (My personal favourite is the line, “Well, I work”, when trying to schedule appointments. I’ve got news for you genius, I do too, and this is when I’m available. ) No one is out to get your personally. We all have our limits.

3) People who disrespect your time. If you’ve set an appointment, you’ve done so for a reason. In other words, you’ve set aside time to pay particular attention to that individual. Being late for an appointment flies in the face of allowing anyone to provide good customer service.

4) Wasting time. If a professional has given you information. That’s the information. Don’t take it to Philosophy-Flipping-101. Just do what you need to do.

5) Leaving multiple messages the same day or within 24 hours for someone just slows down how fast they get back to you. Listening to your annoying 3 minute long whining session more than once is a waste of time, and as annoying as a toddler with a snotty nose and cling-on booger.

A special note to seniors and folks who don’t work…poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on someone else’s. Take up a hobby and make a cup of tea. We will get back to you. No one puts you off because they’re trying to tick you off. At the end of the day, unless you’re a sociopath, you want to leave your work feeling like you’ve at least helped someone, even in a small way.

Just a note to everyone out there who is poo-pooing unions right now; Give your head a shake. Unionized environments are quickly becoming the ONLY jobs that are secure, and can sustain a healthy family and social lifestyle. Don’t fall for conservative government fear mongering. Health care, fair wages and working hours are a right we should not have to fight for again.

Businesses are squeezing every second out of their employees until they burn out. If you have a problem with customer service these days, I suggest you get your saggy butt down to an Occupy event.

These are just a few short examples of how our faltering and bourgeois economy is dividing and conquering the working class. When you meet with someone eye-to-eye, as I like to say, you are meeting with another human being just like yourself, who is as worried, stressed and blessed as you are.

So, remember, if you’re meeting with a person, and their name isn’t on the sign above the business, they’re just trying to get by like you and I. Don’t be an asshole darlings.