Category Archives: rant.

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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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).

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canada geese vs. capitalism.

canada-goose-0002Dear A News,

Your decision to change from “A Channel” to simply “A” was dumb.  What a dumb name.  But until now, I’ve kept my mouth shut.  Canceling the A Morning show was devastating as I found it to be the only news-like program worth watching on your stupidly named broadcast station.  Playing the 11 o’clock news on loop was a boring choice, but I’ve kept quiet and watched it an average of 2.5 times every morning even for the combined 30 minutes of sports, which I have no interest in now that basketball is done, without saying a word.  But on Monday you played a repeat of the Friday night news, which included a story about a canada goose couple who have made a home/nest on a meridian in the parking lot of a big box mall, and I absolutely cannot be silent about the poor journalistic standards present in this story.

The canada goose is a noble creature all too often misjudged and ignored due to abundance and prevalence (and the pushy way they move in on the bread thrown to ducks).  But they are resilient, intelligent, nurturing  animals who have been among the few that have learned to live within the persistent sprawl of Southwestern Ontario.  The particular geese you reported on proved this; when they returned to their wetland homeland so inconsiderately and baselessly converted to the ultimate symbol of capitalist folly – the big box mall- they made themselves a home on the last bit of dirt they could find.  What tenacity!  And what did you do?  You made fun of them.

Sure you cannot help the content of your vox pop – a young woman commenting on how mean the daddy goose is for doing what comes naturally and protecting his nesting wife and their eggs against SUVs and slacked-jawed looky-loos – but your reporter could have concentrated on the real story.  The story about how city planners, zoning granters, money-hungry building developers, and mindless consumers of fair London have all unknowingly conspired to deprive baby geese of a suitable home.  How wetlands have been traded for ill-conceived suburban sprawl and wasteful pedestrian-un-friendly shopping compounds (that do away with resource splitting and intelligent urban design).  And, when you did report on the loss of wetlands you framed the loss only as a cumulative destruction across Ontario over the past century and a half without noting how heightened this loss has become in the last decade in London.  You lamented how this loss has impacted the flooding of the city of London, inconveniencing people, without noting at all the devastation to non-human beings.  

And then, you signed the piece off with “maybe they just want attention.”

Well, frankly, attention must be payed!  But not to floods causing mild annoyance to people or the fact that *big surprise* male geese are aggressive when protecting their young.  But to the fact that Canadian geese now have to risk being run over and losing their young under your brand new all-season tires because the only place left to nest in the region where they remember being raised is outside the La Vie En Rose outlet store (which doesn’t even carry underwear for women over a size 12). 

I’d take a thousand geese shitting on my lawn to another WalMart in my backyard/wetlands any day.  

peace,

-a.b.

**i’ve been asked to note that t. brought this my attention first, before i saw it. so…noted**

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no boys allowed.

feminist1I was recently introduced to a super-awesome article written by a super-awesome Prof of mine, Steve D’Arcy. It is called “Politics of Self-Emancipation” and it has inspired a few inciting comments.   I tried to reply to these comments but there was some sort of technical glitch (user error perhaps?) and instead of rewriting them and likely birthing an endless online banter about the nature of feminism, I have decided to utilize my very own blog to tell the internet gods how I feel about men’s participation in the women’s movement.

I have come to hold the concept of self-emancipation as it is described by D’Arcy as something essential to social change.  However, as is noted in the article, this offers a certain affront to the concept of men participating in feminism.  In this vein,  in a comment by a one “Kim” it is suggested that by writing about how women require self-emancipation, my fav Prof has somehow violated his own rule of men taking a ‘step back’ in feminism and is instead prescribing something that women need and is thus somehow co-opting power from women.  I disagree.  Not only as a kneejerk to her sweeping and somewhat inflammatory generalizations about “leftist men” (though I do have issues of my own with my brothers in solidarity), but because I think that the article is about how self-emancipation is needed in all social movements and that the particular use of feminism in describing the practicality of the concept was a presription to men, not women.  Having said this, I do think an important point can be drawn from this tension: the difference between a women’s movement and feminism.

As is so oft pushed by groups wanting to gain mass appeal, feminism is for everyone (!).  I’ve long seen feminism as being just as much about men reconciling the patriarchal power structure as it is about women doing so.  Surely, many will disagree with me.  But I do not believe we can study, inform, or empower women in a gender vacuum.  Men must be engaged and included in order for the feminist project (which I see as overthrowing the patriarchy in favour of egalitarian gender relations) to work.  True, male feminists must respect the guidelines and framework of women-empowered space, but women must also recognize men’s legitimacy and necessity in the process.  And while the feminist movement started out as solely woman-focused, in North America at least, where women have equality under the law, it is high time for us to realize that this is all about GENDER – not women; not men.   Admittedly, ‘feminism’ does pose problems of etymology to a gender-holistic approach, but I still feel it to be the best descriptor I’ve come across; “genderist” sounds like Bowie in the 80s and “post-patriarchist” and its kin are just a disaster.  More important than a name however, I believe that there must be admitted in this ideology/movement/lens that women have been and continue to be disadvantaged in the patriarchal gender equation.  And thus I am now and will remain a feminist.

Women’s movements on the other hand are decidedly about women and for women; about women conjuring and taking power and these are truly best left to women.  Like how only women should march on the street during Take Back the Night.  Or women-only space.  And how is this not sex-discrimination, a one “Michael McGhee” may ask? Well, let me tell you…

While women-only space is technically discrimination against men, it is not discrimination in the social-ill-to-be-extinguished sense.  Unlike the men-only everything of western culture, women-only space is not about intentionally withholding power from men. Rather, it is about women having space wherein they can identify and develop their own power apart from the male gaze, used here in a sexual and non-sexual sense.  So many women have confided to me that around men they can only feel evaluated as an object of desire and/or inferior to what she sees as his societal-given superiority.  As such, for many women, empowerment and movement towards a feminist-identity requires development in women-only space, to be moved to the polygendered reality of her public life when she is ready to own her ability, contributions,and worth in the presence of testosterone.  

So there.

peace,

-a.b.

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peaceniking.

 

if i were france, i'd take the statue back.

if i were france, i'd take the statue back.

A few months ago I happened to be watching BravoFact on CBC and had the pleasure of seeing “I Met The Walrus“, a Canadian-made animated short set to an interview done on a mono-track recorder by a then young man,Jerry Levitan (who also produced the movie) who snuck into John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Montreal hotel where they were having a *bed-in*.  ‘Tis an amazing piece of film. It has won a million or so awards internationally and it was nominated for an Oscar in 2008.  On top of being a triumph of Canadian art  the interview was, in its non-interjective sense, awesome.

 

Shitty solo work and mass popularity aside, John Lennon inspires me and hearing the interview reminded me why.  He spoke about how those who speak peace and want peace are in a troubled place as the radicals want revolution and the government wants war; the government wants to keep you out and shut you up and the radicals want blood and heads.  But peace is where its at.  And we can have it, if we want it. 

The peace symbol has been commodified and is too often viewed as an unhip throw-back to the 70s.  Pseudo-bohemian young women get their neo-liberal fat cat dads to buy them peace symbol necklaces, rings, and t-shirts.   I have been scorned for saying “peace” and waving two fingers  in place of “good bye”.   The in-crowd views it as weird, and some in my crowd think its too hippie or meaningless.  But I mean it.  I am a peacenik and proud of it.  I honestly wish peace on those I encounter.  When I am called a “militant feminist” I am less concerned about the derogatory stereotype and more worried that my views and actions are being viewed as martial.  And while I embrace and love my peace-loving, in the realm of academia, I often find pacifism being patronized.

In a Philosophy of War and Peace class, my prof spent all of 10 minutes addressing pacifism and only insofar as to call it naive and impossible.  Frankly, my prof’s depiction of pacifism was a naive portrayal  for we are anti-war not anti-reality.  Undoubtedly, there are tremendous barriers to the abolishment of war.  But the Lennon/Ono addage that “War is over, if you want it” makes a lot of sense.   I was told in this class that war is human nature and inevitable.   This attitude permeates the global outlook.  But to say we have no choice, there just is war, is to suggest that we cannot overcome violent impulses or transcend a vicious state and makes pacifism impossible.  If we were to accept peace as a goal, I mean actually accept it as a goal  by doing such things as supporting peace dialogues (and not censoring war-dissenters), making high school history something other than a study of war, reducing military spending, boosting meaningful aide, and strengthening international law, then peace would be a possibility.  Those living under feudal lords could  not have imagined capitalism.  Hunter/gatherers would have found agriculture unfathomable.  And yet…

And all of this was really me justifying my decision to sign off every blog post with “peace”.

welcome to my new blog and thank you for reading.

peace.

a.b.

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