o! Canada

Today I watched the Throne Speech and I was not particularly surprised by what I heard.

The speech amounted to colloquial pats on the back and vague generalizations regarding things that may have been done or will be done or will be or maybe has already been ‘looked into’ (like Francophone identity?). There seems to be a logical disconnect between Harper oddly mentioniong crime prevention (or rather ‘cracking down’) about 12x, while expressing  maintained determination to abolish the long-gun registry. It was an hour long compared to the previous one which was 7 minutes. It was a terrible not-so-good speech. (maybe on purpose?) But dear me! the things the media I watch picked up on:

<img class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-214″ title=”1

O! Canada? Really?

The lyrics to O!Canada haven’t offended me for non-  gender-neutrality.  Sure, non-gender-neutrality bothers me sometimes. And sometimes I’ll ask someone to not say ‘man’ when they mean ‘hu-man’ (oh! that was so hard to do). But not very often, really, overall, and I will still like you. What really got me was that I thought the line in question was a Jesus-thing. (and t. did too so I’m not the only one, I swear!)

When I was 5, I thought the lyrics were ‘true parrot love in all thy sons command’. Until today, I thought the lyrics were ‘True Patriot Love, In All Thy Sons Command’ meaning I like Canada and will do what Jesus says I should. Turns out, it may be ‘True Patriot Love, In All Our Sons Command’ meaning I like Canada and so will all my (male) children!

Neither interpretation concerns me historically. At the time, Jesus and misogyny were super popular. Today, I’m not sure if either concerns me.

For one, a lot of what th Canadian Government  is about publicly is the pomp and circumstance of tradition. For instance, tuning into throne speech, one would see someone who looks  like a  mace,  and Senators taking notes (!) in the House, while MPs shift from foot-to-foot under the press box and in the lobby.

So there is an argument for public displays of Canada being associated with foggy traditions and/or things that appear silly – like the loonie and, perhaps, the national anthem, which is often taught/learned phonetically and is not quite written of the stuff that Canadians sit and ponder the literal or deeper meaning of.

Then again, maybe language does matter (always?). Maybe it is a problem that on one interpretation, the national anthem is a blatant, public statement of a state in reverence of God/Jesus (could this simply mean ‘a god(dess)’? what about atheists? i don’t know), and on another, is all God-y and and lacking specific mention of women.

Ultimately, many Canadians are reverent of the national anthem and it makes them proud and happy to hear it, though really I don’t believe they keep track of the words. Is the wording a problem? Oh, let’s say maybe. Change it? Sure! Will anyone even really notice? But if you’re going to do it, please remove the blatant ‘God’ reference(s) while you’re at it because really, church and state oughta be separate.

So, gender-neutral anthem: Blog worthy? Clearly. 11 o’clock news-worthiest part of Canadian Politics today?  Um, not really. (see instead:  long gun registry &  UN Declaration on Rights Of Indigenous People & what on earth does ‘recalibration’ even mean and why does it take two months ? etc…)

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the big three threw out my baby.



I still don’t know how I feel about the buyouts.  I’ve read a lot about how the automobile industry has created the type and extent of capitalist/ economic/ political/environmental systems we now have.  I don’t like these systems and tend to agree.   If cars stopped being made tomorrow, certainly lots of things would change, but I can’t say that it would make me sad to lose cars. 


On the other hand, the automobile industry is tied to so much in our lives, as we are now witnessing. It is also iconic and somehow synonymous  with North American identity – in a strange way, despite “killing my baby”, the Big 3 are tied to a national/regional understanding of myself and my history.

On the other hand, the one which happens to speak to me more loudly, the Big 3 have been criminally negligent in a lot of ways.  I don’t like that my tax dollars (OK, I get all of my taxes back and then some – would be tax dollars) are helping to sweep that fact nicely away from public attention so that the world is protected from the knowledge that fundamentally, our system is failing.  Likely, no one will ever be prosecuted for any of the blatantly criminal actions they’ve committed.  Mostly because by ‘criminal’ I of course mean ‘questionable’ and actually ‘criminal’ only according to the criminal code in my head.  At least in one of these situations however, I do believe laws need to be made against what was done.  Specifically, GM’s EV1.

For those who don’t know the story, GM introduced the EV1 – their first commercially available, purpose built electric vehicle – in 1996.  In 1999 they recalled and destroyed all but a very few of them.  Criminal waste.

I hate waste.  I compost and adamantly recycle. I cringe when people I eat out with don’t take home their leftovers, no matter how small, and usually cajole them into giving them to me.  I have rubbermaid containers full of fabric, ribbon, paper, and wrapping material scraps because I can imagine another distant use for them.  My household only takes a plastic bag for meat and have an unofficial ‘must be used twice’ rule for the plastic that does make it into our house, like from bread.  Still, my household makes an average of 2 bags of garbage a week and I feel that is far too much.  Can you imagine throwing out a whole entire run of a vehicle?

The phrase is ‘throw away society’, and it’s certainly true. GM’s act, and other acts of waste, are such perfect examples of blind opulence and careless privilege; it is easy to ignore the value of something we consider leftover when we’ve never felt want of anything.  GM’s particular indiscretion deserves the title of criminal for the sheer volume of what was wasted.  We should not be allowed to simply, irresponsibly discard of that which is not convenient to have around any longer if it has further possible utility.  No, recycling isn’t perfect but mindless waste and bottomless landfilling are much much worse.  

Like all facets of society, the legal system is in desperate need of an environmental revolution and I think criminal waste would be a good place to start.

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Filed under environment.

in the company of men.

 As a feminist I have, of course, heard numerous forms of the ‘man-hater’ label.  Usually this happens when a man is threatened by my mere mentioning of the fact that some men are violent or when I point out that they aren’t picking up on my emotional, experiential logic framework of discussion.  No, I don’t hate men.  In fact, I married one.  Though this is somewhat surprising given the actual state of affairs: I am afraid of men.


a man's man.

a man's man.

I am not the only one afraid of men: many women (and men) have shared with me that they are  likewise fearful.  Our shared fear takes many forms.  Personally, I face extreme discomfort with actual or possible sexual attention from men, panic at the sight of certain types of men (read: dudes), and absolute panic at the thought of interacting with male authority figures on a personal or critical level.  This means that going out to any public drinking establishment sans spouse is frightening (last time I was called a ‘lesbian’ and was forced to call the guy ‘asshole’), interaction with male professors and administrators takes extensive emotional planning and preparation, and asserting myself with peers of the opposite sex is next to impossible.


Am I neurotic? Perhaps. But these personal experiences are not the most extreme I’ve heard of and I know many people who face similar tribulations. In fact, the overarching problem of fear of men is far more prevalent than we should be comfortable with in a supposedly progressing society. The good news is that, as I see it,  it has its foundation in avoidable circumstances.

First, of course, low self-esteem is instilled in women and girls through various actions of a unintentional social conspiracy of the patriarchy including the obvious, beauty standards, and the less obvious, a well-documented lack of support for girls in the classroom.  

Second, from a very young age socialization is gendered.  Boys hang out with boys and play boys’ games with boys’ toys and girls hang out with girls and play girls’ games with girls’ toys.  To blur these lines is to be socially punished by peers – think being taunted as a ‘tomboy’ or ‘sissy’.  Thus, with little variance, girls grow up on one path and boys on another not to meet again until it comes time to partner off in heterosexual couplehood.  The outcome is essentially two groups unique in childhood experience, and therefore socialization, somewhat coached in reconciling these differences for the purpose of  sexual pairing but with no real development of the tools necessary to effectively interact with the opposite sex outside of that sexual framework.  On top of this, as girls, we are taught that there are strange predatory men lurking around every corner poised to attack.  

So by the time we are women we have learned how to deal with family-member men, boyfriend/husband men, and dangerous men.  But what about all those other men?  From personal experience and in talking with others I come to realize that to many women, those other men become mysterious beings who communicate very differently than we do. We have been told (and sometimes we perceive first-hand) that they are unemotional, helpless against our sexual power, constantly judging our sexual power, and are prone to arrogance, disloyalty, superiority,violence, and general dude-ness.

So, what of all those complicated social interactions between sexes?  Well, some women end up feeling constantly disempowered: those women who do fear men likely feel constantly disadvantaged in social relationships with them as their self-doubt is magnified by a palpable, though often imaginarily so, sense of inferiority and powerlessness.  

I believe this is all connected to the fact that women are still entering a ‘man’s world’ when entering the public sphere.  Less gendered socialization and more support for the development of self-esteem and empowerment in women and girls are minimum steps necessary to making a truly egalitarian society.


Filed under feminism

your ontology is killing me.

this pig has boots.

this pig has boots.

This story was on the CBC  morning show yesterday.  It is an illustration of some of the evils of factory farming: animals are treated like emotionless product/cargo and often transported long distances without food or water, crammed in uncomfortably, and as the story specifically shows us, often without concern for whether or not the animals will fall out of the truck.

Feminists should care about factory farming because the way we as a society treat animals is an indication of the status of the patriarchy.  Violence against women and violence against animals is the result of the same ontology operating on society.  The ontology that places MAN above WOMAN and NATURE/ANIMALS in a hierarchical structure of understanding despite the interconnectedness of the well-being of all actors on the planet.  Obviously, feminism is quite concerned with ‘man’ being above ‘woman’ in this proliferate model, but concern for the other ‘other’ is slower coming.  As I see it though, systemic violence against nature/animals is not only linked to the health and well-being of all of our world system including people, but is a sign of a sick society that is yet to give up an ontology of hierarchy as one of its basic principles.

The struggle for animal rights has many similarities with the struggle for women’s rights.  For instance, there are systemic laws in place which normalize the oppression of animals and make it next to impossible for the average citizen of Canada to begin a process whereby we view animals as something for than a commodity.  Just as women in legal matters were mere property, animals, particularly food production animals, are legally  bound to be reduced to mere property.  The case of the little pig on the 401 is an example of this as the piglet, by virtue of being a ‘farm animal’, cannot legally be owned as a domestic pet.  Just as women were viewed as baby-making property, animals are still viewed merely as meat-making property and even if we wanted to reimagine the role of meat-producing animals in our lives, we can’t because of the laws restricting private ownership.   

These types of by-laws and laws normalize essential commdofication of animals, keeping them in the hands of mass producers as most cities in North America disallow city dwellers to own or raise animals such as chickens, despite the fact that most standard backyards are more than enough space to safely raise happy, well-cared-for chickens.  This also makes alternative food production, a move which could help reduce strain on the environment, difficult.

Like the current trends to focus on class and ethnicity as well as gender within feminist discourse, I think we also need to start looking at systemic models of animal oppression as indicators of the status of security and equality of women in our society.


Filed under environment., feminism

something to chew on


amber waves of grain.

amber waves of grain.

Anyone who follows me on twitter can attest to my recent preoccupation with food.  This is as a result of my decision to rise to a friend‘s challenge to be vegan for 30 days.  I was vegan before for a period of 2 weeks after about 2 years of vegetarianism all of which halted when my anemia got the best of me and I had to go back to eating delicious ironful meat.  But the politics never left my belief system and I have again succumbed to a desire to reduce my overall consumption and not willingly participate in animal suffering

It had been a long time since I had considered my food intake, its production, and footprint so much and this week also marked my decision to actually do readings for my distance ed course in Politics and the Environment which saw me reading excerpts from Lester Brown‘s Plan B, particularly on the issue of global food sources.  So I’ve got food on the brain:

Here in the west, our environmental discussion is greatly focused on our driving force: the automobile.  Our popular eco-poli discussions focus on oil consumption and emissions reductions.  Of course, oil is a force of international relations very important to issues of peace and security.  But our bellies bloated with heavily-subsidized and abundant food are virtually blind and deaf to an interconnected and increasingly pressing issue: world food sources.

The excesses of the well-fed west spill over to the entire world.  Our emissions change the climate which kills trees, reduces crop fertility and aquifers,degrades soil, and desertifies once arable lands all over the world; the trade and debt policies lorded over the developing world by the west and our institutions leave farmers with little other option than to monocrop, deforest precious forests, and use harmful chemicals which kill trees, reduce crop fertility and aquifers, degrade soil, and desertify once arable lands all over the world.  Etc.

We now have had 6 consecutive years of grain deficit worldwide.  You may have noticed that you pay an awful lot more for bread than you were a few years ago.  Canada’s reaction has been to retain the grain for domestic use and sell only to ‘preferred customers’, leaving many starving states in the lurch.  America, which controls more of the world’s grain than Saudi Arabia does of the world’s oil, uses portions of its precious supply for the creation of alternative fuels through a process that uses more energy to create the oil than is gained through use of the oil, driving up world costs of corn such that the corn-based diet of many Central Americans was recently priced out of their grasp.  In fact, President Obama has recently made such a practice American policy.  Maybe he feels its OK to have to start regulating how many SCAs-to-the-gallon (Starving Central Americans)cars get. 

But of course, we in the west will not feel the worst effects of food shortages.  Not even close. For the most part, we will still be able to afford food even at inflated prices.  Some studies show that with climate change, we may actually see longer growing seasons in Canada and thus have more food, which precedence tells us we will horde for our rapidly obeseifying masses.  And while many developing and transitioning countries will face massive loss of life and growing civil unrest, in some cases in already destabilized political environments, as water dries up and food becomes ever- scarcer, Canada’s uber-stable government, along with America’s unstoppable one, will be toasting one another with Great Lakes’ NAFTA water, poring over the 10s of millions of environmental refugee applications, which they will of course have the luxury of rejecting.

I used to be embarrassed when my grandparents gave thanks for food in restaurants. Now, despite being distanced from my Christian upbringing, I reflect with secular gratitude for every meal.

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Filed under environment., rant.

healthy shape

XPosted to We’ve Arrived! And other such myths.

Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka

The other day I lamented during a radio show that it’s impossible for a woman to just be.  It seems the women I know and hear about are either overweight, watching their weight, dieting, getting in shape, laboriously counting calories or carbs, or nipping and tucking.  Other measures of vanity toward the almighty feminine are included in this concern, but of particular interest to me right now is health and body size.

Health and Body Size: the official preoccupation of women.  Even when we consider fat pride in contradiction to Western beauty standards, we are still talking about perimeters of body size.  And when we try to shift the conversation away from inches and pounds towards health and body pride, there remain complications.  Like the fact that we can’t seem to embrace ‘health’ or ‘body pride’.

Among the many, my most rage inciting encounter recently was while watching Julie Louise Dreyfus on Ellen.  Dreyfus was recently on the cover of Shape, which seems to want to be a magazine about ‘healthy’ lifestyles.  When asked by Ellen how she kept in such good shape, Dreyfus claimed to not really work out but  run sometimes and of course, heavily restrict food before the photo shoot.  I was so mad I punched a throw pillow.  

Magazine covers of healthy lifestyle magazines are often photos of fit, not necessarily famous people.  They showcase to the reading and passing public the epitome of good shape in many instances and, of course, subconsciously suggest that  we too will look like that if we buy the magazine.  Though after hearing Dreyfus’ interview, what I suspected all along about lifestyle magazines promoting health turns out to be true.  That is, they showcase bodies that are either unattainable or attainable only through drastic, sometimes lethal, unhealthy methods, despite being healthy lifestyle magazines. 

So the healthy body that just bes is hard to come across in media, but the proud, unapologetic body is even harder.  One of my fav people(<3), Beth Ditto of The Gossip (<3), once posed nude for NME.  But as you will see if you click the link, despite being what would likely be considered obese, there is not a dimple of cellulite on her, pointing quite obviously to airbrushing out of ‘flaws’.  It doesn’t make me punch anything, but it still makes me mad…and sad…

Even real, healthy bodies are obviously flawed. Why can’t we just deal with it? And also, I need better language than ‘flawed’ for this connotes a perfection from which to stray.  Booooo! ( I blame the patriarchy).


Filed under rant.

filez el Cinco de Mayo!

Though we know the lifestyle is easier on the environment and our arteries,  being veg’n takes a lot of will power many don’t have.  Like me.  Chocolate milk and steak are delicious: though I used to identify as both vegetarian and vegan for times in turn my new fav date is going to my in-laws to spend a pleasant evening and eat what is always a delicious meal including some sort of delicious meat entree.

But meat is expensive and the many arguments against meat and for veg’sm make too much sense for this former student of reason and ethics to justify meat consumption at the average North American rate. (**somewhat related book I’m dying to read) Instead, my darling husband and I have chosen to eat in various permeatations  of weekday/weekly veg’sm.  At least we’ve tried to.  (see: no will power)

But Xtine ‘smelly girl’ D. of Peeling The Yellow Wallpaper, and Feedback: Women’s Edition fame wrote a thought provoking blog about veg’sm the other day and it gave me new resolve toward making delicious veg’n food for dinner at least 4 days a week.  Mostly, this will take a lot of strength to avoid eating our fav indian food.

this has nothing to do with anything but came up in the google images search i did looking for a painting with the ghosts of meat.

this has nothing to do with anything but came up in the google images search i did looking for a painting with the ghosts of meat.

In celebration of my rededication to a vegetablier lifestyle, I have made a delicious Cinco de Mayo salad, named more for its date of birth than relationship to latin food:

Feliz el Cinco De Mayo Salad!

4 ears of fresh corn, sliced     from cob
one sweet pepper,                    chopped
1 can of black beans,              drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 mango, firm is fine, diced
4 green onions, diced
juice of 1 lime
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
hot sauce to taste
3 tbsp barbecue sauce
2 cups TVP prepared with taco seasoning (pork or beef can be substituted)
1 cup of quinoa, prepared 

**optional: (ie. I didn’t have these but it would taste good) avocado, diced and jalepeño, minced. 

  1.  heat non-stick or oiled heavy bottomed pan over high then add corn,season to taste, stir occasionally until corn is browned – – about 8 – 10 minutes
  2. reduce heat to medium and add mango, pepper, and red onion, stir until soft
  3. add green onion and optional jalepeño, stir until soft then remove from heat
  4. stir in hot sauce, barbecue sauce, and lime juice
  5. set aside to cool to room temperature then add tomatoes and avocado right before serving
  6. serve layered over quinoa topped with taco seasoned TVP
  7. optional topping: sour cream and fresh chopped cilantro

For the record, I ate this, not with the TVP and quinoa, but with half a barbecued sausage.


Filed under domesticity., environment.

wooly bully.

wool hanging on the wall.  wool hanging on the wall

The other day,my mother-in-law gave me some beautiful hand-spun naturally dyed wool she made  that is now older than my old man.  It is gorgeous yarn in beautiful colours and is well documented textile experimentation:  I now have a general idea of how certain natural dyes look and a bunch of yarn to keep my idle hands away from the  devil’s work.

Each bundle of yarn was labeled with a hand written note of the organic matter used in the process and stuck through with a straight pin.  The notes read things like ‘hickory husks, which made a beautiful gray-green, and ‘black current berries’, which made the deepest Van Gogh blue. 

in the beginning, there were several rows completed.


My step dad taught me to knit many years ago and now I’m muddling through my  seventh-or-so scarf.  My tendencies to drop a stitch every 9th or 10th row and poor technique in changing colours are forgiven by the beautiful rustic wool. I restarted several times and am learning that those things they animate about cats and yarn are true. 

Still, the act of creating something from raw materials is empowering and satisfying. I feel assured that when the revolution comes, I will be able to knit my family warm scarves, as long as my mother-in-law is there to make the wool.  More important then the ‘revolution’ in my head though, with times as they are, what is painfully obvious to me is that we cannot consume the way we are used to consuming. 

Brown-bag lunches are really just the minimum of what any conscientious consumer of the new socio-econ-eco reality can start to do to begin the process of reimagining cycles of production, goods, consuming, wearing,and using.  I think the future of personal goods production is going to find its way back into the home as we increasingly turn to secondary economies and new/old ways of being consumers. Picking up skills like sewing, knitting(etc.) and mending help in the creation, reusing, and longevity of clothing that sticks it to the man, in a good way.

In this spirit, I have decided to have a contest to give away the scarf I am making as there are only so many necks in my family and I am excited to interact with readers through a contest.  Somewhat unrelatedly,  the contest is to email me (a.g.bushfield at gmail) or comment with websites you read everyday and I will pick my fav and the person who recommended it first will get the scarf!

And this is my other cat who was especially photogenic today. ❤

oo-wee-oo, his name is buddy holly. meow.

oo-wee-oo, his name is buddy holly. meow.


Filed under domesticity.

monster mash

The ones we got didn't look like these. My Rock Band character wears ones like these. 


the ones we got didn't look like these. my Rock Band character wears ones like these, though.

Did anyone else love this movie when they were a kid?

The recent history of movie theatres in London, Ontario is a sad one.  The New Yorker was slightly before my time, but I hear it spoken fondly of.  I personally had a lot of awkward adolescent first-to-third dates at The Capitol and thought one of the greatest comments on my city was when someone rearranged the marquee message of “Reopening Soon” to RIP when it became quite obvious that the theatre would never be reopening.  

I think it could go without saying that the movie theatre has been in a slow tailspin sine the advents of television, home video, and the internet.   It has affected second-run theatres most as these theatres thrived on the time between theatrical release and home release.  All theatres suffer  movies being downloaded or livestreamed right onto giant home televisions, greatly mimicking the feeling of a plain old movie theatre with more comfortable seating and cheaper snacks.  There, I said it. 

Today I went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D and have decided that after I have my own counter-culture fashion and lifestyle media empire, successfully operate an organic automat cafeteria/diner, and live in an off-the-grid self-sustaining farm, I will be opening an experience theatre.  

The movie was amusing and delightful.  It had interesting ‘monsterous other’ and empowering themes as well as tolerable humour and adorable characters.  But the real star was the 3D animation.  It scared me every time.  It made the movie experience so enjoyable and positively worth the money even though I wasn’t able to use my coupon on 3D movies.  I was reminded of  a documentary I watched in grade nine science on experiential movie theatres in the 50s, including buzzing seats and scratch n’ sniff movies and now I’m convinced it all needs to make a comeback.  

I was worried about the theatre I went to because recently there has been no one there when I’ve gone, except for huge blockbuster opening nights, of course: it is built with a large capacity in mind but I haven’t seen it fully functioning since it opened about a decade ago.  It’s obviously either ill-thought out over consumption, like a big box theatre, or is victim to (un)foreseeable trending.  They did, however, advertise several 3D movies before the feature which may tell of a renewed theatre experience.

The 3D glasses themselves were satisfyingly Buddy Holly-like, and while they can’t be used as sunglasses and aren’t red and blue lensed, I do plan to hold onto mine to use them when I go to my next 3D movie.  However, in order for it to be extremely successful with me and mine, there will need to be non-cartoons made, which currently doesn’t seem to be the case.

This is currently my most anticipated movie. 

p.s. Would you rather a link for a movie be to the wikipedia or imdb page?


Filed under reviews.

review of Black Hole by Charles Burns

available several places.  

My friend has the coolest last name on the planet.  But you can never know it for reasons of privacy.  She also has a fabulous graphic novel collection from which I have  borrowed several to read.  

Black Hole by Charles Burns is the second one I’ve picked up.  For those who do not know it and will not click on the link, it is a series from 1995-2005 about teenagers in the 70s getting an STI that causes grotesque mutations. And there are murders. 

The idea seemed fascinating and having flipped through it I felt the art was well-done enough. I was expecting loosely veiled HIV/AIDS  references only to find really loosely veiled vag imagry.  (not at all related vag hating and ethnic stereotypes) I mean, ‘Black Hole’…really?

The mutations are super cool.  And it’s sort-of super cool in the way that Heavy Metal is super cool. But the art is nothing particularly special with poorly executed narration boxes that block  a lot of what could be neat urban landscapes and pretty much miss the point of a graphic novel: the drawings are themselves highly narrative and literal and the addition of the narrative boxes make graphic interpretation redundant.  

Reading it also gave me a headache and made me nauseous, which I attribute to the high relief contrast in black and white and awkward panel reading movement.  This, according to some people, is in turn attributable to me being  a so-called ‘weiner-kid’.  Overall, the art is quite lovely in places but very hard to read.

The plot is a missed chance at character development/making a comment on the modern state of adolescent sexual politics and STIs.  It might be trying to be erotica, but it I would call it hetero-normative, white bread weirdo boy erotica. 

Should definitely be read but is officially not worth a headache.

p.s. poor Bea Arthur, she wasn’t Rufus Wainwright’s grandmother.

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