Not To Be Trusted With Knives

I was doing a little light reading about Bill C-51, “An Act respecting foods, therapeutic products and cosmetic” and noticed this in the FAQ from the Government of Canada’s “Healthy Canadians” website:

Mothers?  Really?  You couldn’t go with something more inclusive like “parents”?  Fathers raise kids too, you know, and sometimes, they give them vitamin C.

Also, DIN stands for “drug identification number“, so “DIN numbers” is redundant.


{July 30, 2008}   My BlogHer/Feminism Rant

Wow, I’m like totally the captain of late blogging. BlogHer was like eleventy billion weeks ago and I’m just getting around to blogging my rant.

First of all, a picture of all the cards I brought home from BlogHer:

I don’t even have time to keep up with the blog feeds that I currently subscribe to, so I have no idea how I will find time to check out all of these. In fact, I haven’t yet checked a single one of these yet! But I *swear* will get to them, because there were definitely some cool people with cool sounding blogs that I need to check out!

Secondly, an obligatory feminist rant. Or rants, really.

Rant#1: I’ve already mentioned that the majority of the people I met at BlogHer were mommy bloggers, most of whom had little or no interest in talking to you if you had no kids1. When I’m at a conference, the first things I ask when I meet someone new are “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” but I can’t count how many women I met whose first question was, “How many kids do you have?” or “How old are your kids?” And, seriously, many of them didn’t want to talk to you if you weren’t a mom.

I noticed on the conference agenda that there was going to be a session called, “Who We Are: Women Without Children and the Blogosphere” and I thought, “Hmm…, maybe that’s where the non-mommy bloggers go.” But then I read the description, which said:

You might be childfree by choice because you always knew you didn’t want children, or it might have snuck up on you, and you decided or work to be content as you were. Either way there are definitely times when it’s like being a fish out of water in this society…online and off. Lisa Stone likes to say that “the only thing harder than being a mother in this culture is being a woman who chose not to be a mother.” Join Laurie White, Teri Tith, Suebob Davis and Laura Scott, who have a lot to say on the subject!

To me, that sounds like a “Hey! Did you decide that you never, ever, ever want kids? Or did you accidentally get old and barren when you weren’t paying attention and totally missed the boat? Come to our bitter fest where we complain about how people are mean to us because we are and forever will be childless!” Now, I realize that I’ve been complaining (some might say “bitterly”) about people being less than hospitable to me because I’m childless, but (a) I’m not (necessarily) childless for ever, so I don’t fit into that group any more than I fit into the mommy bloggers groups and, more importantly, (b) why do women have to be categorized by their uterine-status? Do men get categorized, judged and in- or excluded from things because they are daddies vs. childless?2

Which brings me to my Rant#2.  Specifically, a rant about swag. In the various swag bags that I picked up over the weekend3, there was not 1, but 2, samples of laundry detergent. At a blogging conference. Seriously. I mean, do you get samples of laundry detergent at your average (i.e., non-gender specific) blogging or tech conferences? Do men not do laundry? I know that, on average, women do more housework than men do, so I can see why laundry soap companies’ marketing departments, target women, but it doesn’t make it right! Shouldn’t we be demanding that men do their half the housework?? And what about single men? Don’t they do their own laundry? The single men that I know do, so why isn’t there laundry detergent in their swag bags?

And then there was iRobot, the makers of the Roomba. You know, the robot vacuum cleaner that cleans your carpets & floors. Now, I will admit that I TOTALLY want a Roomba. Because I, like any sensible person, hate vacuuming. But again, does Roomba show up at the exhibitor’s room at other blogging conferences? Well, I asked their rep and the conversation went something like this:

Me: So, do you go to other blogging conferences, or just this one?

Her: <pause> Well, this is the first one we’ve been to. We are going to see how it goes and then maybe we might consider going to some others…

Me: <pause> Really?

Her: Well, our target audience is what we call the “C.H.O.” – the Chief Home Officer. So, whoever is responsible for the home.

Me: …

Her: Yeah, women with kids. <pause> But, well, I’m single so I’m the Chief Home Officer at my place, because…

Me: Because you are the only one there.

Her: Yeah.

Me: What about single men then? Aren’t they a target audience for this?

Her: <shrugs>

Chief HOME Officer?? Really??! <barf!>. But what really ticked me off was the brochure that they handed out, which, citing a University of Wisconsin study4, said, in part:

Did you know that Women [sic] spend an average of 31 hours per week doing housework while men spend 14 hours – a ratio of slightly more than two to one? […]

Even in households where both the husband and the wife work full-time, paying jobs, the wife does 28 hours of housework and the husband 16 – a ratio just shy of two to one.

Said Sampson Lee Blair, associate professor of sociology at the University of Buffalo, ” – (Even) where she has a job and he doesn’t… where you would anticipate a complete reversal, you find the wife doing the majority of the housework.”

With the touch of a button, iRobot can help you even the score. Let our home robots help with the dirty work so you can spend more time doing… anything you want!

(emphasis mine)

That’s right. The solution to this injustice is not to strive for equality, but for women to accept that vacuuming is their responsibility and buy their product.  Notice that no one is telling men that they have to solve the vacuuming issue before they do “anything they want.” They can just go do as they please and the women need to make sure the “dirty work” is done. Not. Impressed.

And speaking of lame things about Roomba, they were giving out these bracelets that open up to reveal they are USB memory sticks:

That, in itself, is not lame (although I would never, ever wear it as a bracelet). What is lame is what is included on the USB memory stick. Specifically, a song.  A song about the Roomba.

No, I’m not kidding. A song about the robot vacuum cleaner.  A friggin’ song about a friggin’ robot vacuum cleaner!  And it’s not even remotely good. Not even listenable, really.  And not even in an amusing way, like this song.  Just an awful, awful, awful Roomba song.

Thankfully, through the magic that is YouTube, now you too can hear the Roomba song!

Fortunately, in addition to the cleaning supplies that make me angry, there was some good swag, including I USB memory sticks from Smilebox and from some military thing. They had crap loaded on their sticks too, but didn’t appear to have any songs that I could mock, so I just deleted the crap and now I have a some free USB sticks.

I also got this thingy from topix that turns a power outlet into three power outlets – a great idea for a blogging conference which, surprisingly, I didn’t see a single person using. Instead, everyone just asked me if they could plug into my power strip that I had brought with me.

There was also this button. It made me laugh.


And for any of the swag that you didn’t want, Zwaggle, a site that facilitates parents passing along “gently used” kids stuff to other families, has a swag recycling room where you could drop off any swag that you would otherwise chuck into the landfill, and grab stuff that other people left for recycling.  Like if you were just dying for more laundry soap.  They gave out cool t-shirts, so they get my thumbs up and my link love.

Of course, the most amazing piece of swag I got disappeared from my purse before the end of the first night.  But I don’t think I have the strength to talk about it right now, so that will have to be a blog post for another day…

1So many thanks to the lovely women I met who were moms (some mommy bloggers, some bloggers who happened to have kids) who *did* talk to me after I admitted I was currently barren.
2Perhaps you do and I just don’t know about it because I’m not a male. Male readers – what’s been your experience with this?
3And you know how I feel about free stuff.
4In truth, they cited a New York Times article which cited the actual study.

…er, the shirt for which you’ve all been waiting.

So, a while back I mentioned that I bought the coolest shirt EVER. And now it has arrived!

Hooray for Torsopants!

{March 29, 2008}  

The other day I Twittered “Why is no one emailing me when I’m desperately wanting a distraction from this work I’m doing?” Well, my friend Dan rose to the challenge, emailing me no fewer than FIVE distractions (thanks Dan!  I knew I could count on you)!  One of the said distractions was this article: “What Will Life Be Like in the Year 2008? (Nov, 1968),” through which I learned that the author, writing in 1968, was able to accurately predict:

  • laptops
  • web conferencing
  • touch screens
  • prefab houses
  • the US population (predicted: 350 million)
  • online shopping

But was a wee bit off the mark on predicting:

  • cars that travel 250 mph on cushions of air and are controlled by a “traffic computer,” a system that has eliminated all traffic accidents
  • rocket travel between continents
  • robots that do the housework
  • despite predicting that computers will control pretty much everything, the author felt that, in 2008:”Not every family has its private computer. Many families reserve time on a city or regional computer to serve their needs.”
  • work-life balance: “The average work day is about four hours”
  • vacations in undersea resorts or on satellites (yes, satellites)
  • “steak-like” meals made from seaweed
  • “Heart disease has virtually been eliminated by drugs and diet” – as cardiovascular disease is still the number 1 killer in North America, he really couldn’t be more wrong on this one
  • an “intelligence” pill given to “slow learners” and forgetful
  • and women’s rights:

The housewife simply determines in advance her menus for the week, then slips prepackaged meals into the freezer and lets the automatic food utility do the rest.

Apparently it did not occur to the author that women might have JOBS in 2008. I mean, what with the robots doing all the housework and all. Of course, since the men are only working 4 hours a day, I guess there just isn’t much work to be done.

{February 28, 2008}  

One of my new fav blogs is Usually the stuff I read over there makes me rather angry… things like Canadian doctors refusing to perform pap smears on unmarried women because they disagree with unmarried women having sex, or the US Senate passing an amendment that bans the use of federal Indian Health Service funds for abortion, or, and I’m not making this up, a politician saying that gay people cause earthquakes. I mean, I guess a feminist blog is going to contain lots of things that make me angry because there is so much unbelievably awful shit going on in the world.

But the other day I saw this video over there and I just had to share it with you:

Ms. Pac-Man – you go, girl!

{February 26, 2008}   Byelection!

And speaking of politics, there is a byelection happening in my riding on March 171. According to this CTV News article, the seat will probably be staying Liberal.

My favourite part of the article was this:

Conservative candidate Deborah Meredith isn’t in Ottawa yet but she’s already refusing requests for interviews.

Oh Tories, how you hate to actually have to talk to the people. Always afraid you’ll put your foot in your mouth. Which, of course, you would.

It went on to say

Her campaign manager, Dan Tidball, said Meredith wanted to “focus” on the local media “and you’re the national media.”

Hmmm…. I have an idea. I’m “local” media – a blogger from this riding. Maybe I should ask her for an interview!

Considered the sixth wealthiest riding in Canada, the west-side Vancouver riding includes posh ocean-view homes and the leafy University of British Columbia.

First of all – I live in the 6th wealthiest riding in Canada?? I knew it was affluent, but yeesh!! Second, they forgot to mention the :”cramped, spider-ridden basement apartments with a view of a whole lot of nothing” when they spoke of the “posh ocean-view homes.”

Also of interest in this byelection is that the candidates from all three of the major parties are female. It got me thinking about the whole debate in the States about whether women should support Hillary Clinton because she’s female. Some feel that women should vote for a vote because women are appallingly unrepresented in government (which is true). Others point out that to vote for someone just because of their sex, regardless of their policies, is, well, sexist (also true). I think that the bigger issue is that we have so few female candidates to begin with. If half of the people running were female, as they should be, we wouldn’t feel this pressure to elect the few that we do have running just to ensure that females are represented in government.

So, here’s the links to the main candidates in my riding (Vancouver Quadra):

The byelection is on March 17 so, if you live in Vancouver Quadra2, get out and vote!

1Unless, of course, the government falls before then. That would rock.
2or Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, Saskatchewan; or Willowdale, Ontario; or Toronto Centre, Ontario, which are also holding byelections that day

{February 17, 2008}   Dildos in Texas

So I just saw over on that a federal appeals court has overturned a Texas law banning the sale of sex toys. This video1explains a number of the rules that Texas had about sex toys:

Highlights include:

  • You could buy a dildo, but only as long as you didn’t call it a dildo. You could only have it for “educational purposes” – such as using it to demonstrate how to put on a condom.
  • You could buy a vibrator, but only as long as you didn’t call it it a vibrator. It’s a “personal massager.”
  • You could buy a butt plug. And you could even call it a butt plug because, and I quote: “The anus is not defined as a sexual organ by Texas law. So you can buy whatever you like to go there.”

Which, of course, makes me wonder if they ever sold the baby Jesus butt plug in Texas.

1For some reason, WordPress keeps eating the embed code when I try to embed this video in this posting. Even though I’m sure the code is correct. So, I’ve given up and now all y’all2 will have to click on the link to see the video.
2I said “all y’all” ‘cuz this is blog posting about Texas.

{February 1, 2008}  

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hearing Gloria Steinem1 speak at fund raiser luncheon for BC Women’s Hospital, an event at which my office had a table. Being an event for a women’s hospital, Steinem spoke about her passion for women’s health an its importance for the women’s movement.

Some interesting things from her talk:

  • she reiterated a point that I find I’m often making when I support feminism – feminism isn’t man-hating; in fact, equality of the sexes benefits men as well as women. One example: all the focus (e.g., US Congressional Hearings) on the birth control pill when it first came out not only ensured that women had that option to control their own means of reproduction, but results in patient information being required on all prescription drugs – which benefits men as well as women.
  • the suffrage movement came from First Nations women. European women, brought to North America basically as “chattel” saw First Nations women living in a more egalitarian way than the European women had ever seen and thought “hey, we want that!”
  • change is hard! Change requires work! She used the analogy of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly… apparently, the cells of the caterpillar body don’t just passively die to make way for the butterfly cells; they fight it and, in the process, become like this gel on which the emerging butterfly cells feed. Change is struggle, but in the end we get to be a butterfly. =)

Also, Pamela Martin was the MC and told an interesting story about getting married in the early 1970s and making the then-controversial decision to not change her last name. When she went to get a passport, they made her fill out a “change of name” form because, by their reasoning, by not changing her name at marriage, which women are “supposed” to do, she was, in effect, changing her name to her maiden name. “I, Pamela Martin, swear that I’m changing my name to… Pamela Martin.”2

As a total coincidence, the day before I got an email from the library that a book I had put in a request for months and months ago was finally in – Full Frontal Feminism. So I expect you’ll be hearing more from me on feminism in the near future (including a review of a book on evolutionary psychology, “Why Do Beautiful People Have More Daughters,” which I finished a little while ago, but haven’t got around to reviewing yet.)

1So, I just read the Wikipedia entry on Steinem while grabbing the URL to link to her name and discovered that she’s Christian Bale‘s stepmom; further, she:

led the National Organization of Women to block the original publication of the book, American Psycho, and to convince actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, not to take the lead in the movie version.

Starring in American Psycho, of course, being one of Bale’s claims to fame.  Another thing I noticed from Wikipedia… some of the sentences from the entry on Steinem seem very familiar. I’m 99% certain the person who introduced Steinem (and it wasn’t Pamela Martin) took sentences directly from Wikipedia… in particular, I remember:

She attended Smith College, where she remains active. In 1963 she was employed as a Playboy Bunny at the New York Playboy Club to research an article that exposed how women were treated at the clubs.


Her 1962 article in Esquire magazine about the way in which women are forced to choose between a career and marriage preceded Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique by one year


Steinem remains on the masthead as one of six founding editors

2This reminds me of when my ex and I went to Hamilton City Hall to apply for our marriage license. They made us swear on a Bible that everything in our application (including our declaration that we are atheists) was true.  “I, Beth, swear on this Bible that I don’t believe in this Bible.”

et cetera