Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just kidding

The interview is actually this week, not last week. All other details still relevant.

I don't think it will be a call-in, only because I'm so painfully inexperienced at radio hosting that the idea of adding random phone calls into the mix makes me gulp with dread.

I've been doing some research and noticing that there are some pretty serious problems with, in fact, all of the parties' statements on the subject of arts funding. Some are wronger than others, as usual, but nobody seems to be in command of a terribly detailed understanding of how the whole thing works. Should be a good conversation.

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Witness the birth of a Canadian pundit!

This Friday at 1.30pm, yours truly will be grilling one Hawskley Workman on the Canadian issues of the day. Tune into CFRE to hear it live here.

Will he answer in freestyle poetry? Will the Canada Council receive the airtime it deserves? Will I resist the urge to crawl into his lap?


Thursday, September 11, 2008

For too long, the serfs have diluted the vote of our great nation's landed gentry

Man, what a dick:

"We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed.

State election rules allow parties to assign “election challengers” to polls to monitor the election. In addition to observing the poll workers, these volunteers can challenge the eligibility of any voter provided they “have a good reason to believe” that the person is not eligible to vote. One allowable reason is that the person is not a “true resident of the city or township."
That's from this article, via Bitch Ph.D. Seriously, GOP, now you're just being assholes.

What's the relevance to Canada? Well, as far as I can tell, Harper's already borrowing pretty heavily from this party's playbook (in his very first speech after calling the election, he tried to dub Stephane Dion "Professor Dion,"* who presumably also eats arugula).

I'm not suggesting the Conservatives would pull any of this crap. I'm just saying, let's all stay very clear about the reasons why it's so important not to tolerate politicians doing the sneaky bullshit some of them do: because that slope slides, baby, oh it slides.

*Least successful meme ever.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A new study on young women and sexual violence, and some thoughts on language

This report, by ChildTrends.org, is incredibly upsetting, but hardly news to those of us who have some familiarity, either personally or professionally, with sexual assault. While conservative statistics about rates of incidence of rape tend to put the figure at around 1 in 6 (North American women, at some time in their lives), I think it's becoming increasingly clear that, to get a real feel for how many women have experienced sexual abuse in their lives, the terms need to be broadened. This new study suggests that 18% of women aged 18 to 24 have had forced sexual intercourse. That's more like 1 in 5, by around the time most of us are finishing college or getting our first "real" job.

Which has got me thinking (again) about the role of language in how we talk about sexual violence, and about our experiences more generally.

There's a reason we say "sexual assault" and not "rape," why we say "survivor" and not "victim" or "accuser," and why we let women tell us when it was rape and when it wasn't, rather than us telling them. This is all Sexual Assault 101.

But in this specific context (meaning a blog generally, and a personal-politics blog more specifically), I think there's something else going on.

A few days ago, my dad and I got into a very heated conversation about the American election. At the end of a long series of frustrating back-and-forths, he informed me that Michelle Obama is going to cost Barack the election, because she's just so *aggressive*. "I heard her speech at the DNC, and I couldn't believe how aggressive it was."

I had kept my cool through the conversation until this point - through accusations that I was relentlessly partisan, that I had a personal vendetta against Palin, that the idea that Palin was anti-woman was laughable, that McCain's POW status prevented all criticisms of his foreign policy approach - and then I flipped my shit. With tears in my eyes and no embarassment, I told him that when you hurl a word like "aggressive" at a woman like Michelle Obama, you're hurling it at all of us. Us. Us. Me. Me as a professional-to-be. That word tears down my future. Mine.

And then I realized I should have been saying this all along.

Sometimes objectivity is necessary and helpful. Sometimes it's the only path to the truth. And sometimes it's not.

This isn't a newspaper, or CNN, and I'm not a politician. When I talk on this blog, or with people in my own life, I have no professional obligations to be neutral. I'm not campaigning, trying to win people over to my side with diplomacy. I have no obligation to be neutral when I have something at stake, or to try to make myself seem rational by going out of my way to grant points to the other side, even when they make me wince.

My attempts at objectivity, at not taking things personally or getting emotional, enabled my dad to treat the misogynistic language of this election as a purely academic issue. I enabled that with him, as I have in many other conversations. That might be a disservice to him, but it's definitely a disservice to me. I, and women in general, are not a theoretical concept. Once I teared up and said my bit, he refused to continue the discussion "if I was going to get all emotional about it." The truth is, I wanted him to see the emotion. I didn't want him to have the luxury of treating sexism as a purely rhetorical problem, when we are living it. I wanted to break him out of those habits of thought and into my world. It's not that he doesn't care, he's just never had it made real in this way by someone he loves.

Which is why I'm rethinking the way I talk about women's issues on this blog and in general. Let me take one more stab at introducing that new Child Trends.

By the time we are 25 years old, 1 in 5 of us will have experienced forced intercourse.

Because it's us that I really want to talk about.

(h/t to Feministing.)