Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Random Awesome Things

[author's note: Blogger is NOT on this list because this is the second goddamn time I'm writing this. Fucking Blogger. Ahem. Here it is, from memory:]
[author's second note: fuck fuck fucking computers. This time I saved the HTML in Word. Fuck you fuckers!]

No rant today, just some random awesome things.

A few weeks ago, Nate got some new photos, and I thought the "Le Tired" one was pretty awesome and I wondered what the context was...then along comes Ironwoman, sending me this extremely funny link. "Shit shit who the fuck is shooting us!" Aw, serendipity.

I, like many others, like to shout things at other drivers because I am a crazy person operating under the belief that this will somehow make them drive less like assholes. One of my favourites is shouting things at speeders like "Where's the fire?" and "Hurry! That baby won't deliver itself!" Ah - good thing I'm not a cop.

Here's one for any of you who's ever had this fear, only to be told be your skiing companions "Hahhahahaha what a moron, geez Laura!" Or whatever your name may be.

But not as big a moron as: Jason Kenney, who (allegedly) (ooh, look at me and my fancy journamalistic talk) went on a radio talk show this morning blasting the government's Kyoto plan. The kicker? At one point, he apparently stated that "trees and plants produce C02". Aw, Jason, Jason, Jason. Here's one on the house.

For some correct usage of gender terms and just all-around awesomeness, check out the latest Strongbad e-mail.

Alright - that's all the awesomeness I have time to remember today. Feel free to post your own in the comments section.

Oy, and here's one from MK all the way in Vic City - first he was king of the world, now he's saving it! [editor's note - thanks to the eagle-eyed Megan for noticing this link was unlinky]

Monday, March 21, 2005

Let's Talk About Sex

So D and I were ordering some stuff online the other day, and he was filling out some forms and he goes "Don't look!" so I of course look and I see my absolute number one infuriating form section of all times that drives me completely bonkers:

Gender:
1)Male 2)Female
And that sets me off for a good five minutes or so, and by the time I'd calmed down I'd composed a short novel on how SEX AND GENDER ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS AND YOU CAN'T JUST USE THEM INTERCHANGEABLY LIKE WHEN YOU DON'T WANT TO PUT THE WORD "SEX" ON A FORM BECAUSE EW THAT'S DIRTY SO YOU JUST PUT "GENDER" INSTEAD 'CAUSE THEY'RE THE SAME THING RIGHT, EXCEPT NOT AT ALL#$%$

However, much of that short novel (including most of the swear words) can be condensed into a simple primer:

1) The terms "male" and "female" refer to SEX, that is, whether an organism is equipped with male or female anatomy. For example, people, dogs, plants, etc. can be divided into "male" or "female" versions of a single species
eg. "Hey Mary, what kind of dog is that?" "Well, Bob, it's a female golden retriever!"
2) The concept of "gender" is a social construct, and refers to characteristics which people assign with the labels of "masculine" or "feminine". ONLY HUMANS HAVE A GENDER. The following terms refer to gender: girl, boy, woman, man.
eg. "What kind of dog is yours, Bob?" "Well, it's a cross between a woman chihuahua and a man poodle so that makes it a boy chihuadle!" "Why, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard, Bob! Also, "chihuadle" is a funny word!"

So - when you're asking me if my gender is male or female, it's like asking me to give my height in pounds or my weight in decibels. THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.

Between the two of them, gender's by far the trickier concept. Sex, for humans and animals , boils down to this simple question: do you have testicles (male) or ovaries (female)? That's it. That's all it takes. Except in rare and expensive cases, you get one or the other and that's that.

Gender, however - well, like I said, that's a social construct. Our society has decided that certain things are feminine (long hair, make-up, crying at movies, the urge to buy many, many shoes, etc.) and certain things are masculine (short hair, 3-piece suits, the need to drive real fast, scratching one's crotch, etc.) Females are expected to be feminine and do feminine things, and vice versa for males. A young female is called a "girl" and expected to do girly things, and when she grows breasts and starts menstruating she is a "woman" and expected to do womanly things, which are a lot like girly things, only with more cleavage. And, conversely, "boys" do boyish things (like eat bugs) and grow up into "men" (sometimes) and then do manly things, (like eat bugs on TV for money).

"Wait!" you might say. "That's a gross overgeneralization! After all, some women eat bugs on TV for money too!"

That's right. In fact, nowadays, men and women and girls and boys often share many of the same attributes and activites. Some men cry at movies. Some women drive sports cars. But often, in the eyes certain members of society, this makes them "less masculine" or "less feminine". That's because gender, as a - all together now! - social construct, depends on interpretation. From person to person and culture to culture, concepts of gender change.

For example, in most Western countries, skirts are"feminine" and pants are "masculine" - think of the little dudes and dudettes on the washroom sign. But ask Sir Sean if his l'il kilt is an expression of his feminine side, and he'll probably clock you but good. Of course, he'd probably do that if you asked him what time it was, too - he's kind of a drunken lout, I hear. However, the point remains that depending on the context, a skirt can be girly or manly.

Now, let's look at drag queens for a second. No, really, have a look. Those men? Have a lot more "feminine" characteristics than I do. And yet they're called "female impersonators". Well, they're not "female" impersonators, unless they've hidden some makeshift ovaries up there. And, if gender is a social construct based on a series of attributes described as either "masculine" or "feminine" then they've certainly got all the boxes checked off for "woman", except for the one that says "female" and so, despite the fact that many of them are much hotter as women than I'll ever be, they are still called "impersonators". And thank God, because did I mention that they are much hotter than I am? Seriously, it's bad enough having to compete with all the hot females out there.

Really, what drag queens are doing are challenging the notion that man=male and woman=female with their own little equation that woman=male can exist too. And this makes a lot of people uncomfortable, for one simple reason: PEOPLE LIKE STEREOTYPES. To some extent, every person likes to think that there exists a series of generalizations that you can make about other people based on their physical appearance. And it's not just about someone's sex - black people are good at basketball, asians are smart, latinos and latinas like salsa (the food) and salsa (the dance), Russians like vodka, Canadians are polite, Americans are ignorant violent jackasses...the list goes on and on.

And while society has, to a large extent, at least acknowledged that stereotypes based on ethnicity or nationality are harmful, we still REVEL in our sex stereotypes. Don't believe me? Just watch a beer commerical

Next time: This was originally going to be a piece about gender vs. sex that led into a discussion of homosexuality in the context of sex and gender stereotypes, but I think I have the carpal tunnel syndrome now, so I'll let that brew a little longer in my noggin' while I go ice my wrists.

Also - there's been a related discussion on Pixie that's pretty interesting.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Plato Strikes Again

"Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools, because they have to say something."

Boy, is that ever my motto when I'm going throught e-mails in the morning. I bet if I did the stats, it would turn out that there was a direct correlation between the volume of messages an individual sent and how much of an asshat they are.

Like this one guy who is constantly sending these essays about how all the world's ills are due to our "decaying moral fabric". Uh huh. That's what he says. I guess that explains the smell. I thought it was all the SUVs and the treatment plants on the river - nope, just our decaying moral fabric. Pee-yew! And what has caused this? Well, basically, that women work outside the home and teachers can't give students the strap anymore. Also, that The Passion of the Christ didn't win any Oscars. No, really. He says that. For real. Seriously!

These last couple letters have been in response to the recent tragedy outside Mayerthorpe. The point this guy was making is that it wasn't a problem of a batshit psycho crazyman having guns - nope, that's not what murdered these officers. It's single parent families and the lack of a male role model! Funny, 'cause I could have sworn that it was a batshit psycho crazyman with guns. I guess I - along with EVERY OTHER PERSON IN THE WORLD - must have misunderstood that part. We don't need to restrict crazy people's access to guns, no, we just need to find them a Father Figure...maybe Sandy Cohen?

And just when I thought I'd met my daily quoto of foolish people - along comes another letter who says the problem is neither guns nor bad dads but - marijuana!

Now, I realize that the media has been making a big deal about this "grow-op" bust. However, a friend of mine who's dating a mountie says that him and his fellow officers are pretty peeved at the focus on marijuana, 'cause apparently this guy had, like, four plants. The problem wasn't that he was growing the marijuana needs of a small fraternity, it was that he was A BATSHIT PSYCO CRAZYMAN WITH GUNS!!

But no, says fool #2, not only was marijuana the problem but (and I quote) "that any one who uses Marijuana, who sells it, who grows it, they ALL share in the guilt. Their hands are just as red with the blood of these officers as the one who pulled the trigger. "

Uh huh...O...kay. I get it. This person is just playing the fun new "Six Degrees of Separation - from a Heinous Act!" Let me try. A guy in Alberta murdered four RCMP officers - there were marijuana plants at his place - I've used marijuana - therefore, I murdered 4 RCMP officers. Hey, three degrees! That's pretty good for a first try. Wow, this is fun. Okay, okay, how about this one? Let me see...alright, a guy in California abandoned his attempt at suicide and his car on train track killing 10 people - the car was an SUV - I've seen SUVs before - I've never tailed them to make sure they weren't going to be parked on train tracks - therefore, I killed 10 people in a California train wreck! Huh, four degrees! Maybe I can do better with SARS. Thanks for the great idea, fool #2!

And - word, Plato.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

Big first for me today - first time I can actually walk normally after a day of snowboarding. Went up for half a day on Sunday with gorgeous conditions, lost about an hour and a half of quality time to the most monstrous rental bindings ever, but got those exchanged and went about my business cutting up the green runs like nobody's business. And only 80% of all snowboarders under the age of 12 are better than I am now. Boo yah! A pretty awesome day, all considered, except for this part:

Floyd: [snowboarding]
Skier: [from behind] Fuck fuck fuck!
Floyd: [gets hit from behind by skier, face plants]
Skier: [loses skis and poles slides several feet down the hill]
Floyd: [looks downhill at skier with face full of snow]
Skier: [who is, in fact, a fifty-something woman] Goddamn motherfucking kid!
Floyd: [24 years old, puzzled]
Skier: [more profanity]
Floyd: Are you okay?
Skier: [Pauses mid-profanity, snaps] Yes, I'm fine. [more profanity]
Floyd: I'm okay too, by the way.
Skier: Fuck, well good for you.
Floyd: Well...good for both of us [snowboards off awesomely!]

Yeah, I didn't really know what to say to her. I was just really, really confused by her reaction, seeing as SHE HIT ME, and a little thrown off by the potty language because, really, do you kiss your grandkids with that mouth? But I was fine, except for my eyes which were a little sore from having her lime green jacket and bright purple tights all up in my face, and my virgin ears, which were still reeling from those awful cusswords from that fucking fuckface, and Dan and I got two more runs in and I only had one bad non-skier-related-wipe-out the whole time so all in all it was my best day of snowboarding ever.

Hey I just thought of something - Ross Rebagliati not only used marijuna, he was also a snowboarder and Olympic gold medal winner! Now I'm guilty by association twice. Thank God I don't have an Olympic gold medal - sucks to be you, members of Canada's national hockey teams!

Friday, March 11, 2005

WEIRDED OUT!

Huh...careful what you wish for...I was walking down Bank today and right at the corner by Sparks Street (close to Parliament Hill, for you non Ottawans) there was a group of about eight seniors trodging around the block carrying signs that said "Abortion is Murder", "Canada's Holocaust", "Morgentaler Kills Babies", "My Cat's Breath Smells Like Catfood", etc. And you'd better believe a bus came right around the corner as I was passing them...oh, tempt me not!

Actually, what really happened is that as I was walking past them on the sidewalk they were chanting about praying for the sinners (coincidence?) and then they broke into a "Hail Mary" so loud that I actually jumped a little and got this look of "Weirded Out!" that was noticeable enough to make this guy walking towards me get a little weirded out too.

And, again, none of the people with their "Abortion is Murder" signs (with, I might add, the word "Murder" being done in a scary font - all black and red and squiggly - to further emphasize their point, because while logic escapes these folks, aesthetics apparenetly do not!) were women of child-bearing age, because who better to judge the morality of a medical procedure than folks who don't need it? WHO, I say, WHO? What? People who might actually at some point in the future need said procedure? Whuh?!! THAT'S CRAZY TALK HAIL MARY FULL OF GRACE...

Sorry, sorry...not trying to rile the Catholics out there...that's what this is for. And this.

Mwa ha ha ha...TGIF, y'all!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Speaking of Horst Burbulla...

Note - this following post talks about abortion and might offend some readers - feel free to skip down to the end where I'll talk about commericals and other shit.

Got an interesting fax the other day...talking about babies and how wonderful they are and gee, isn't it great when they hold onto your finger in their tiny little hands and then you read them stories and they grow and love you and you love them and love love love love love? Well, too bad, 'cause there won't be any babies any more thanks to same-sex marriage!

Or something like that...these people are really hard to understand. It's like they start out arguing against gay marriage, and then they hear themselves and they're all, shit, that's not convincing, so they go off on tangents and ramble until they wind up at something outrageous like "NO MORE BABIES EVER!!" and then they're all, yeah, good one, and they don't bother checking to see if their argument makes any sense because they're too busy being all indignant and self-righteous and dumb.

And this is where I get especially sensitive to the anti-equal-marriaage activists: when they bring out their procreation trump card. When they start to tell me that marriage exists for the sole purpose of penis-in-vagina-type conception of the next generation. When they say that biology is destiny, and I'm here to make babies, and they start to eye my uterus all covetously, like, seriously, get your own freakin' uterus!

I gotta say, on issues like gay marriage and abortion, these guys have such random, circuitous reasoning. I mean, they go on and on about how we need to stop Bill C-38 because families are the cornerstone of society, and I just want to poke them in the eye, because nobody is saying that families aren't important; in fact, this whole bill came about because a group of dedicated individuals are fighting for the right to have families for the very reason that they are so important to society. GAH! Do these people even listen to themselves? "Families are so important that we need to prevent more of them from happening!"

Same thing on the abortion issue - when I wander down the street and some parade of "abortion is murder" folks are wandering up and down the sidewalk I just want to push them in front of the bus and shout, "No, this is murder!" I can understand that they are against abortion. I GET IT! But what they don't get is that the pro-choicers, like the pro-lifers, would rather live in a world without abortion. Nobody LIKES abortion. No one sets out in life with the goal to have as many abortions as possible. No little girl ever thinks "Gee, I can't wait to grow up and have an abortion!" No little boy ever hopes that one day a sexual partner of his will have an abortion. Nobody wants to live in a world where abortions are the norm, pro-choice or otherwise, and it seems like a certain segment of pro-lifers don't get this.

See, the real issue is not abortions. Abortions are a by-product of unwanted pregnancies. THIS is the real issue, THIS is what people should be working to prevent, if they want to stop abortions. And this is the angle that most pro-choicers take, with an emphasis on family planning, education, and the availability of cheap and safe birth control - with great success! And this is also the angle taken by certain pro-life groups, who recognize that for a lot of women the choice to have an abortion is the result of financial insecurity, social pressures and the stigma of single parenthood. But then you get the (and I'm sorry to stereotype, but it holds pretty true around this town anyway) old men wandering around with their "Jesus hates sluts" signs or whatever hateful rhetoric is popular nowadays, and I just can't take it. Like, you know what, buddy? It's awfully easy for you to say that no one should have access to a procedure that YOU HAVE NEVER NOR WILL YOU EVER NEED.

Now, I'm not saying that men shouldn't have a say in this debate. Obviously, however a child is conceived, there is always a male and female biological parent. And, equally obviously, if those two people implicated in the conception of child disagree on whether to proceed with a pregnancy, you have a 1-1 tie. And when you've go to break the tie, well - again, obviously - the tie goes to the person who's ACTUALLY PREGNANT. And it's when the other side starts disputing that last statement that I just go ballistic.

So what does this have to do with same-sex marriage? Well, the two are linked pretty closely. It's mostly the same groups who protest both issues and the recent debate over Bill c-38 has given these groups the opportunity to sneak in references to abortions, polygamy, pedophilia, etc., as "arguments" against the bill. Strangely enough, theses same groups that would pressure women into adoption rather than abortion protest against that child having two loving, same-sex parents. Huh. Seems that for all their self-righteousness about children and families, all that matters to these folks is that we do as they say, but not as they do. Apparently, they're the only ones who get to be hypocrites.

And now on to other things!

Saw the best commercial the other night - it was about 20 seconds of all sorts of women going about their daily lives, and then stopping, as if something had suddenly occurred to them. Like: woman brushing her teeth, suddenly stops; woman typing at work, suddenly stops; woman reading a book, walking her dog, buying groceries, etc. And halfway through this commercial I turn to D and say "This is an ad for birth control". And sure enough, it was an ad for the birth control patch. And he's all, "How'd you know that?" And I'm all "That is the exact look a woman gets on her face when she suddenly realizes she forgot to take her pill." A great example of an advertising campaign that really knows its target audience.

Also, I'm currently reading the most excellent novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which totally rocks. Yes, it is about magic, no, it is not Harry Potter for grown-ups which is a dumb-ass thing to say, like all books about magic are rip-offs of HP and all movies about ancient Rome are just rip-offs of Ben-Hur and all TV shows about cooking should pay royalties to Julia Child because a topic can be used once in every medium and after that there's nothing original or fresh to say about it. Anyway, the book is a fabulous read and also pretty hefty in case you ever meet somebody who starts talking about how it's really just re-working the old LOTR wizard angle and you need something with which to smack some sense into them. For this, I recommend the hardcover edition.

Also, went to see Be Cool yesterday, and let me just say that until you have seen Dwayne Jonhson deliver a "monologue" from Bring it On, you have not truly lived.

Last but not least - D and I just signed up for zip.ca, and are looking for some little-know cinematic gems we can watch and adore. Any suggestions?