feminism

Used goods

Sometimes, I try convince myself that if I ignore a feeling, it will just go away, and I can continue behaving in a ladylike, elegant manner. Messy emotions are yucky – they suck out so much energy from me. I’d much rather navigate life in a calm, cool, collected manner as a beautiful ice queen, rather than a hot-headed spit-fire.

A few weeks ago, Beaut found out about a guy (Flingster) with whom I’d had a very casual fling 2 years ago. Unfortunately, Beaut knows Flingster rather well – they bump into each other socially on a periodic basis. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Beaut is particularly a fan of Flingster (can’t say I blame him). Beaut was silent for a moment. And then:

Well that sucks. I dunno why, but that changes everything. What you and I shared – I thought it was special. Now… knowing that you slept with him, that ruins it. It feels like you have a type, and I was just the next guy that fit your type. Also – I don’t care about your past, you could have slept with anyone, but I know him, and now I know that he slept with you first…

And just like that, I went from being Beaut’s good friend to used goods. Sloppy seconds.

I valiantly fought to save our friendship. I reminded Beaut of one of his former FWB agreements with a girl that I know. Based solely on my interactions with her, long before I had ever met Beaut, or knew of their involvement, I’d come to the conclusion that she was manipulative, selfish, unstable, and best avoided at all costs. I didn’t hold that interaction against him, so why should he judge me for Flingster? He replied that his interactions had been sexual in nature only. Indignantly, I pointed out that mine with Flingster had been equally sexual in nature – it was precisely due to my inability to sustain more than a 2 minute conversation with Flingster that had nixed any desire for a more substantial relationship.

Beaut acknowledged my point, but what could he do? He felt as he felt.

I feel enraged at the Universe for never letting me be free of my errors in judgment. My fling with Flingster caused me all kinds of baggage, which took me months to sort through – he treated me as a consumable, to be discarded once he was done. At the time, I was very frail mentally, and his behaviour confirmed my conviction of worthlessness, and tipped me over the edge into a vicious depression. I thought that my depression, all my hard work to overcome it, was karma enough. But it turns out that the Universe still had one more surprise for me. It has poisoned a relationship that I held dearly in my heart.

Vulnerability is SHIT, really. I took a risk with Beaut – he was the first guy since Flingster where I tried being vulnerable, tried battling my insecurities (exhausting, scary, and all around unpleasant), laid myself out there because I felt that he was a kindred soul. Even after Beaut slammed shut the door to dating, I still cloaked myself in the happiness that resulted from our close, intimate friendship – we both had created a safe space where we could reveal our true selves to each other. What a relief to just be, never worrying about being judged, confident in the belief that we’d each accept the other as they were. Turns out that I could be myself up until I revealed one thing too many.

The worst part? I can tell myself Beaut is wrong, I am not used goods. But I’m fighting a losing battle against my mind. I see myself as he does, and I can’t blame him for the bitter after-taste.

Beaut apologized most sincerely, when he saw my tears and devastation. He promised it wouldn’t make a difference, we’d continue as before, good friends. I’m sure his intentions are good, and he meant it. I am not sure how much of what I am currently feeling is my paranoid brain having a field day. But it has been 3 weeks, and I’ve noticed a sharp decrease in our communication. He feels distant. On top of mourning the presumed end of a lovely friendship, I wonder how much I invented about it? For if it was as wonderful and meaningful as I thought it was, surely it could survive this? Maybe I was delusional about the whole thing?

I guess it is what it is, but it makes me weep.

Today I failed at ignoring my feelings, and finally acknowledged my sorrow related to this whole mess. This beautiful ice queen has red eyes, and a sniffly nose.

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Getting hit in the solar plexus, part deux

Part I (you can read it here) was a figurative hit to the solar plexus. This part II was a literal hit to the solar plexus. Both were equally traumatic.

Yesterday’s training was a sparring session at the gym. I was pumped: I hadn’t sparred in over 3 weeks because of my trip to Beirut, it was time to dust off the cobwebs and see if all my work-outs while away had paid off. Feeling up to a challenge, I asked Coach if I could spar with Cap (the assistant coach who has publicly declared that one of his life goals is to drop me to the mat with body punches. See his entertaining and violent trash-talking here and here). Coach graciously agreed, telling me that he was offering me up as a gift to Cap, since Cap would soon be starting his 2 week paternity leave, and what better way to kick off his “break” than by roughing me up? To increase the entertainment value of this sparring session, Coach insisted we go last, so that the whole team could watch as they did their cool down.

Funny, I hadn’t considered my sparring to be a form of amusement for the masses.

Right before I got into the ring, Coach added a 2nd sparring partner to the mix: Bradley – a shy, quiet, tall, 15 year old boy, with a jab that can break through cement walls, and a hair-cut similar to Brad Pitt’s in the movie Fury. #heartbreakeratayoungage Coach smirked at me, and told me that sparring with Bradley was his present to me. It was Bradley’s first time sparring with a girl. **

Round 1 with Bradley went well, although he clearly wasn’t used to sparring with a tall girl – his jabs to the body frequently landed on my left boob. Coach noticed, and told Bradley that he could boast the next day at school how he’d frequently man-handled an Amazon’s boob. “All the boys will envy you, bro!” Poor Bradley turned as red as his helmet.

Round 1 with Cap also went well: the body shots weren’t too bad. I might have even landed 1-2 of them myself!

Round 2 with Bradley started off ok, except I noticed that he stepped up his aggressiveness, possibly in response to Coach’s embarrassing comments. He made me work on my mobility, to avoid getting pinned against the ropes. Everything was under control, nice give and take until the last few seconds of the round, when Bradley got me in the corner, and delivered a perfect right to my solar plexus.

For a split second my mind was all, “No big deal, I can continue boxing” and then my body decided that nope, standing up was no longer an acceptable activity. Down I went, both knees to the mat. I looked exactly like this guy, except with much better hair:

In front of my entire team. I got heckled pretty bad. And then Coach decided to deliver one of his coaching moments:

Ooooooooooooooh YEAH!!!! What a punch!

Everybody, just to give you guys a little context: Bradley here for the longest time refused to train with girls. To the point that I had to speak to his mom, and explain to her that Bradley needed to learn to respect my girls: they are Amazons, and can take and give a punch like any guy! And now look, look at how far he’s come. (waves at me)

Bradley, look at those muscles on her! It takes a real man to handle a woman like that, and boy did you handle her good. I’m telling you, at school tomorrow, all the boys are gonna envy you when you tell them what you did!

Meanwhile I was still on all fours, unable to breathe or crawl out of the ring. Great coaching moment, but I would have preferred if it had happened to somebody else.

Boxing. Always entertaining. Sometimes painful.

 

 

**Coach rarely allows for co-ed sparring: for the safety of his boxers, he is very strict about matching his boxers to appropriate sparring partners, based on height, weight (+/-15lbs max), strength and experience. Due to the normal strength & weight difference between guys and girls, there is little opportunity for mixed sparring. He only allows the more experienced lighter guys, the ones that can control their power at will, to occasionally spar with the bigger, heavier girls (myself, and 1-2 other girls) to give us girls the opportunity to broaden our experience, without putting us at risk of excessive power.

 

When Google IS helpful

Guys – humans of the male gender – this post is safe, if somewhat irrelevant, for you.

It will come to no surprise to any of you, after my last post about drowning in the Red Sea, that I am anemic. I’m falling asleep everywhere, and can’t drag myself out of bed, nails are peeling and breaking all over the place. Before resorting to iron supplements (stained teeth! constipation! SEXY TIME!), I’m really trying to change my diet to eat as many iron-rich foods as possible.

Namely, dark chocolate.

A small bar of Lindt dark chocolate easily provides up to 67% of the daily value for iron. In a form that is easily absorbed by the body.

So basically, I have NO CHOICE but to eat a LOT of chocolate. For my health.

lemonchocolate

Life is very hard, sometimes.

I leave you with Mr. Bean. He gives a very good argument for a steady diet of chocolate in the clip below. Mr. Bean the Wise.

Guilty until proven innocent: Jian Ghomeshi

Day 2 of the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault trial. Do I think he is innocent? Nope. Do I think he will be found guilty? Nope. Does that bother me? A bit, but the alternatives bother me more.

Similar to the Bill Cosby scandal – public opinion has condemned Jian Ghomeshi as guilty. The sheer number of stories and supporting journalism definitely points to him having done some uncool stuff, more than once. As a woman, there is an unfortunate feeling of dread and recognition when reading up on the alleged victims’ accounts of Ghomeshi’s stunts. The stories feel true. If I had to bet, he definitely crossed the line over into the realm of sexual assault a few times. CBC’s behaviour definitely supports that hypothesis – they wouldn’t have done all they did if there didn’t exist a serious problem at the organisation. So. Jian Ghomeshi is presumed guilty. I want him to be found guilty, and serve as an example to all the other creeps out there that frequently assault women. I really really want this. I want him to be the martyr for this cause.

There is a pervasive problem of women in Canada not reporting sexual assault. It has been documented extensively, reliably and repeatedly.

Shocking infographic #1:

Specifically, of the few sexual assault cases that are reported and go to trial, few result in convictions. This feels like a failure in justice.

Shocking infographic #2:

Yet, the fundamental reason for the lack of convictions is the very basis of our criminal law system in Canada:

We all know the standard in criminal law is very high. Every accused person is presumed innocent, a presumption that can only be displaced by unambiguous evidence that proves the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The onus is on the victim (via the Crown) to provide that evidence.

In the absence of corroboration, this system itself essentially dictates the near impossibility of conviction in a simple he-said, she-said situation.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sandy-garossino/jian-ghomeshi-women-report-sex-assault_b_6059124.html

I am ok with that. I support that – rationally. I believe that the tenet of “innocent until proven guilty” is one of the best aspects of our society, and one that must be protected. Therefore, when I stop listening to my emotions that scream “condemn that little fucker!”, and look at all that has been written about the case, and it’s similarities with Bill Cosby, I am aware that there is a high likelihood that Jian Ghomeshi will not be found guilty, because the prosecution will not be able to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. That is fair.

But at the same time… sexual assault is a real thing. One that goes unpunished, yet wrecks (mostly) women’s lives.

What to do?

#jenesaispas

#jianghomeshicreepsmeout

#guiltymotherfuckerbutIstillhopehegetsafairtrial

P.S. in the interests of almost being unbiased, here is the only article I found online which claims our judicial system is just fine thankyouverymuch. Written by a lawyer. Well then, no problem afterall, phew! Canada, world’s 2nd-best place to live! We rock.

Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

The author is white woman, living in Toronto. I am a white, middle-class young woman, living in Montréal. I have lived through variations of all of these stories, except for the death threats (only because I am not a loud, prolific feminist writer. Yet.)

I view these stories as par for the course. Worse, I am grateful that this is BETTER than the States, where being female gets you shot (Planned Parenthood, anyone?). In our two countries, supposed bastions of democracy and equality, this is totally normal. Acceptable.

One of my friends, another white middle-class girl, has told me with a straight face that there aren’t prevalent gender issues in our society. She wasn’t being naive. She had honestly NEVER experienced anything like what I or Anne in her post below have experienced.

I was stunned at my friend’s innocence. Then I was kind of envious. Imagine a world where this shit isn’t the norm? I can’t.

The Belle Jar

1.

I am six. My babysitter’s son, who is five but a whole head taller than me, likes to show me his penis. He does it when his mother isn’t looking. One time when I tell him not to, he holds me down and puts penis on my arm. I bite his shoulder, hard. He starts crying, pulls up his pants and runs upstairs to tell his mother that I bit him. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about the penis part, so they all just think I bit him for no reason.

I get in trouble first at the babysitter’s house, then later at home.

The next time the babysitter’s son tries to show me his penis, I don’t fight back because I don’t want to get in trouble.

One day I tell the babysitter what her son does, she tells me that he’s just a little boy, he doesn’t know…

View original post 1,529 more words

Turns out I’m still very vanilla thankyouverymuch

My gym is located in an interesting area of Montreal. As a refresher, in the past 2 years:

  • 2 dudes attempted, and failed, to mug me at the nearby metro station (story here);
  • I got offered a really good deal (no sales taxes) on a underground artist’s music album because I am white (story here);
  • I got the most colorful cat-call of my existence, in front of one of the many strip-clubs of the area, on my way to a wedding reception (story here).

Yesterday, as I exited the metro station, and started the short walk to the gym, at the reasonable hour of 7:30pm, a homeless man walked beside me and repeatedly asked me for $5, alternating between English and French. I politely smiled and refused several times, in French – because growing up in Quebec, I’ve long accepted that it is just easier to speak French to strangers to avoid triggering words of abuse about being an anglophone and a hater (not that those unpleasant episodes happen frequently, but still. I prefer avoiding hateful comments whenever possible. And really, it doesn’t cost me anything – I speak the language well, and enjoy it. I just wished I had learned to enjoy it without the context of discrimination and sour politics. #naive #wishfulthinking)

The homeless man walked alongside me, crowding me, until he abruptly stopped right in front of me, showed me his cigarette and whispered,

C’est parce que j’ai vraiment envie d’écraser ma cigarette dans ta face.

Which translates charmingly to:

It’s cuz I’d really like to stub my smoke in your face.

He stayed there, standing in front of me, with the burning cigarette 2 inches from my face just long enough to make sure I believed him, and then he walked away.

While he did that, the full irony of the situation (I was on my way to boxing) was not lost on me. Yet I stood frozen, and scared, not sure how to handle the situation. As always, afterwards, I was left with the uncomfortable feeling having been too passive, too accommodating, too female. Wondering how I could have handled it better and more assertively.

I also wondered if any of my feelings would have been shared by Marie-Antoinette, long ago. Poor scared little (relatively) rich white girl, and all that.

#stillvanilla

Nice and oppressive

In response to my post about achieving assertiveness as a woman in business, I got  the following tweet from a male reader:

@jsvetlo But are your results objective? I get those reactions too. Could you be subconsciously over aggressing from perceived m/f hierarchy.

So many things.

No, my reactions are not objective – by definition they are subjective. Obviously. Yes, I might be over aggressing, that doesn’t invalidate my experiences or my conclusions thereof. NO, THERE ISN’T A “PERCEIVED” M/F HIERARCHY. IT IS A DOCUMENTED PHENOMENON, I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS EVEN UP FOR DEBATE. 

It’s like the (white) people who don’t believe white privilege exists. Or those that don’t feel racism is a problem (in Canada). How is it possible that these otherwise rational individuals can hold such unbalanced opinions? I’ve often wondered. 

May this be the only time I ever quote Dr. Phil

 

In this brilliant OpEd on gender and race inequality, author Katherine Fritz hits the nail right on the head:

I’ve noticed this thing that happens when I have these kinds of conversations with some white men in my life, men I admire and respect and love.

They become frustrated during these conversations because they feel attacked. They feel invalidated. They feel like their arguments aren’t considered valid, because they can only speak from their own experiences, and it’s hard to believe that there is a problem when you can’t see that it’s there.

They assume that they must fall into one of two categories, “nice” or “oppressive,” and no one wants to be “oppressive,” but if they argue with anything that I’m saying, they certainly can’t be “nice.” So they shut down. Or become angry. 

And that sucks. Because their voices are necessary, and need to be heard. Join in. We can’t do this without you. 

This. This is true.

I once shared the following article I Don’t Know What To Do With Good White People with one of my (white) girlfriends. She was so insulted. “If someone cuts in front of me when standing in line, I don’t assume it’s a race or gender thing, I assume that person is rude as fuck and an asshole. Maybe the author shouldn’t make everything about race. If I will be judged for being nice, I’ve no patience for that.” I was very taken aback by her reaction: I thought the article was an interesting opinion piece, that illustrates just how complex racial issues are, and how even good intentions can be patronizing or harmful. Turns out, she felt the article presented life as a sum-zero situation where her skin colour automatically made her oppressive to others – an accusation she rejected since she is a nice, polite girl. But a white girl – not her fault! (N.B. I am aware of the irony of her feelings, given the subject at hand!)

Lesson learned. For the dialogue surrounding gender and racial issues, it must be framed such that “nice” and “oppressive” are not mutually exclusive. It kinda blows my mind that that must be explicitly said, before we can talk about the real issues, yet so it is. Everyone is seeking the same thing, to have their reality and their good intentions acknowledged. Who’d have thunk?

So. Now that we’ve acknowledged that not all men are sexist, most don’t intend to subtly belittle their female coworkers, and many are good, kind men, can we get back to the discussion of gender bias in the workplace? Do we really have to argue the logical fallacy that because one hasn’t personally witnessed a phenomenon, it cannot exist? 

P.S. Please please PLEASE read Katherine Fritz’s piece The Invisible LateNight Knapsack. Best thing I have ever read about how to acknowledge and discuss racial and gender bias.