Thursday, 28 June 2012

Resurrecting The FABulous Kitchen!

Remember the failed food-blogging project I mentioned way-back-when? No? S'ok, it wasn't terribly memorable (except for the soup recipe, which is awesome). Well, I have challenged another fledgling blogger to a weekly recipe-off!

That's right, my new kitchen, the one I am dying to show off, will be a regular feature on this blog. I'm pretty stoked about it. The timing is perfect, actually. Not only do I want to spend more time making cheap, vegan, from-scratch recipes, but I'm also riding on the manic momentum of having gotten out of a writing rut, and I just watched Julie & Julia again last week and am sooooooo ready to put on my pearls and cook like a woman possessed.

Hold on while I put on my face

Well, time to lose myself on,, epicurious, and budget bytes as I seek out inspiration for my glorious return to the world of food-blogging.


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

3-Day Novel Contest 2012

I know it's still a little over 2 months away, but I'm ridiculously excited for this year's 3-Day Novel Contest. I participated in 2010 and, while I may not have finished what I started, I got the beginnings of a really cool story out of it.

In preparation for this year, I want to try writing something cheesy and Harlequinn-esque. Maybe with a bit of sci fi/ fantasy. Hard to say. But I've got a bookshelf full of inspiration that I'm going to be consuming over the summer, including an anthology I got for my birthday of lesbian pulp-fiction from the 50's and 60's. Exciting!

With a new apartment that will have a spare bedroom/office in which I can write (btw, update from Monday's post in case I wasn't terribly clear, we're no longer slated to be homeless! Yippee!), I'm hoping to get back on the writing bandwagon something fierce.

Perhaps I shall put more efforts into blogging.

Perhaps I shall work on a couple novels I've started during 3DNC and NaNoWriMo and finally get them finished.

Perhaps I shall seek out freelance writing work to flush out the wedding budget.

Perhaps I shall just meander Tumblr in privacy and while away the evenings gigglesnorting over videos of cats talking on YouTube.

Ahahahahahahahahaha... oh, crap. It's 3am on a Tuesday morning. 

Maybe I'll be more politically productive and put more time and energy towards compiling info and stats and studies on rape culture so when trolls pop up I can toss the book at them. Time will tell, I guess.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Vices: because I'm interesting and do other stuff, too

Like most adults, I have vices. Shocking, I know. I'll give you a moment to compose yourself.

Not included in my vices: wearing pastels and sexually objectifying women

Since I don't have a lot of vices, or the many of the traditionally "bad" vices, I like to keep them and tell myself that they're ok since I'm not freebasing or smoking 2 packs a day.

Sometimes I'll give things up arbitrarily, like once or twice a year I'll quit drinking coffee for a week or a month to reset my tolerance after getting into a pot-of-coffee-a-day habit. Sometimes I'll tell myself I'm going vegan so that I cut the eggs and cheese out of my diet. Sometimes I'll tell myself I'm only going to drink on weekends, and that usually results in my having 5 "cheat" nights a week because forbidden booze is the tastiest of all.

I've come, once again, to a point where I need to prioritize my vices. My partner and I have just secured an amazing, albeit expensive apartment, and so our budget requires that we cut some of the fat. Sure, we could spend as we have been and still squeak by, but since we're getting married next summer we absolutely must start saving money and paying down some of our debts.

So, I've got to stop drinking during the week. Not a huge expense, maybe $20 a week, but enough over the course of a month that it adds up. Since we're going to be busy every since weekend in July (a wedding, the Warrior Dash, a gala, etc), that extra $80 will definitely be allocated someplace.

Groceries have to get under control. I love food. I sincerely love food. I also love grocery shopping. And since I'm an amazing cook, I will often aimlessly wander the grocery store aisles in search of new foods to try out and new concoctions to add to my recipe repertoire. Alas, I must scale back. This is definitely a good thing, though, and quite timely. My partner gets free produce from her work, and I've been on a salad binge, so now I must focus my recipe curiosities towards making more items from scratch and with fresh ingredients. Really, the only downside is the time it takes to cook, but the new apartment has an amazing kitchen, large, new fridge, and a dishwasher and my commute time will be cut down by at least half. So, this goal is more than feasible.

Entertaining with friends is going to have to be rerouted to their place or ours. I love eating at restaurants, but this is definitely the right time to put that on hiatus. Aside from the events that we already have committed ourselves to, we've got to suck it up and cook for ourselves. See above.

Those are really my major vices at the moment. Sure, I'm still drinking coffee like it's going out of style, but I'm considering getting a second job towards the end of the summer, so maybe now's not the best time to quit. Or... the perfect time? I'm out of almond milk, and the coffee is provided free by my workplace, so I'll ponder on that one.

Now that those vices are going to be subdued, I'll have more time to devote to awesome things that are not-really-vices-but-the-opposite... nices?

We're just up the street from our gym, so now we'll be able to stay for yoga after our training sessions, and even go on nights that we're not training. How exciting! I've honestly never before been so excited to go to the gym, so I'm more than happy to keep up this momentum. Plus, with my cousin's wedding coming up in three weeks and seeing all the family I don't see for most of the year, I'll be happy to show off my progress.

With the two-bedroom apartment, I'll now have my own office. I am unspeakably excited about having a space once again to write, to craft, to blog, to generally be on my own and spend time in my own head. That is such a hard thing for me to accomplish in a one-bedroom apartment. This year I'm going to be celebrating this by officially participating in the 3-Day Novel Contest. I started it two years ago in St. John's and was able to get most of the way through. Last year was a bust because I worked 3 shifts that weekend. This year I've already let everyone know I'm sequestering myself away and shall be incommunicado all that weekend. This year I shall prevail. Oh, yes. I shall prevail.

Well, that's about where I'm at in life. See? I don't just meander online and look to pick arguments with rape apologists. That's just a hobby.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Adultivity isn't as easy as it looks

You know how when you become an adult, there are all these expectations of how you'll be successful, earn lots of money, have a fabulous place to live, settle down with a loving and doting partner, and have 3.14159 26535 89793 children?

Well, obviously it doesn't always turn out that way. One of the most grownup things I've ever done is realize this, learn to be ok with it, and accept that mistakes aren't the end of the world.

For example, in my "previous life" with my ex-husband, we were both working full-time in fulfilling careers (albeit mine was contract work for non-profits, which was far from stable), we had a house, 2 vehicles, and 2 cats. We had accumulated all of the ear-marks of what people assume means someone is doing well and should be happy and grateful and waking up every day pooping rainbows.

Turns out, accumulating things other people want isn't enough. I was desperately unhappy (and likely clinically depressed, but was too ashamed to get any actual help until my ex and I separated). I blamed myself for failing to be happy, for being so selfish as to not want all these things I was so fortunate to have, for not being able to just adjust to the life I was living and just deal with it.

That's not to say I didn't make the best of it. I ran a writers' club, I made crafts and sold them at craft fairs, I visited friends out of town, I painted, I wrote, I did all the things that the creative part of me wanted and craved.

But it wasn't enough. For some reason it was never enough. And I was worried that I was just destined to be unhappy and that my fate was to be miserable despite all efforts.

Fast-forward almost 5 years later, and what a difference a divorce can make*. My partner and I are engaged, we have stable, well-paying jobs, one vehicle, 4 cats, a dog & a bird, an uncomfortable amount of debt, and we're going to be homeless in about a week because we haven't been able to secure a new apartment for when our lease runs out at the end of this month.

*your mileage may vary. My advice to people having a hard time isn't simply "get a divorce". Now, please, put the lawsuits away.

But it's ok. I'm pretty darned good, actually. I'm not panicked, in large part because we have places to stay temporarily until we do find an apartment. I don't long for the stability of my first marriage because, even though the stresses were different (for example, I didn't have the debt hanging over me that I do now), now they feel so much more manageable. Now they feel conquerable. Now I don't feel resigned by my life, but rather excited to live it.

So, adultivity be damned. The expectations of living a particular kind of life by a particular time frame may work for some, but it's not a one-size-fits-all formula to happiness. It's ok if you don't want and/or aren't happy with the traditional goal-posts. And even if it's what you want, there may be setbacks that take away some of your hard-earned gains. That doesn't mean you've failed; it means you're not impervious to the vicissitudes of life.

And if you fail? Well, that happens, too. There may not be a reset button with life, and some failures you may never be able to take back, but that doesn't mean you can't go forward

If you are struggling and feel like you can't get your head above water, please seek out help. Whether it's confiding your issues in your partner or a friend or a counsellor (goodness bless college-paid campus counsellors) or your religious leader or your parents or your cat, it may help you feel a lot less lonely and help put things in perspective. There's no shame in not being able to "fix" yourself or solve all your problems without assistance, sometimes including medical or otherwise professional assistance.

These meandering, trite plattitudes brought to you by Monday-afternoon introspection.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Clothes are not consent

I know I repeat myself a bit on here about topics pertaining to rape and victim-blaming and rape culture, but it's seriously not my fault. The same tired topics get rehashed all the time. Sometimes in slightly, marginally, nigh insignificantly different ways, and the posters hang on to these arguments for dear life. It gets pretty old pretty quick.

That's right. Tell the nice kitty your opinion about hemlines preventing rape.

For example, one of the old tropes that get hauled out when discussing rape myths is that women should dress demurely to avoid rape, because dressing provocatively tells people that you want to definitely have the sex. This tired trope takes many forms and is often used in conjunction with equating rape with robbery. For example:

yeah if they open there vault at 3am and post a sign thats says free cash, but just never actually give consent for people to take said cash

In one brief post the person is able to 1) victim-blame, 2) dehumanize women by equating their bodies with inanimate objects, 3) make a ridiculous analogy that offends my feminist and pedantic sensibilities at once, 4) completely miss the point by such a wide margin that I'm not so sure any more we were talking about the same thing.

Let me be absolutely clear in my response to such arguments: No.

No, my clothes don't speak for me. This isn't Harry Potter where articles of clothing are magical and can speak and sort what house I'll become a member of.

They don't have power of attorney over me.

They can't decide how my estate should be handled should I pass on.

They don't get to decide if my organs are harvested, or if the plug should be pulled should I fall into an unrecoverable vegetative state.

They can't sign a marriage certificate for me.

They can't sign a loan application for me.

They can't file my taxes for me.

They can't vote for me.

They can't run for office for me or to represent all other people who wear that particular article of clothing.

And they can't give consent. They're clothes.

My clothes can say all manner of things, but guess what? You still have to check with the person who's wearing the clothes. Because I'm human and am sentient and have the first, last, and only say as to what happens to my body.

What if my clothes say, "I like bacon." Guess what? That doesn't give you permission to stuff bacon down my throat. Maybe my shirt says, "I love wine." That doesn't give you permission to waterboard me with a bottle of merlot. Maybe my shirt says, "I think sex is awesome!!!!" That doesn't mean I want sex right now, or with you, or with anyone.

You think my clothes are telling you a different message? Ask me. Or I'll assume your clothes are saying "Taze me, bro, then call the cops and my mother to let her know I'm a rapist and a disappointment to her and to humanity in general."

Monday, 4 June 2012

Analogous to analogues: building a better analogy.

SlutWalk Toronto 2012 went down on Friday, May 25th with a good turnout, fair weather, and great spirit. And now, of course, there are more articles coming out that decide to completely miss the point and to do so by abusing an oft-misused literary device: the analogy.

Remember in the 90's when everyone was irked with Alanis Morrisette for ironically writing a song called "Ironic" which misused the term "irony"?

Irony: ur doing it rong. Ironically. Or then you're doing it right? I think the universe just collapsed in on itself.

Now, on to some of the "new" criticisms (by new I mean an article published recently, the argument itself has been unsuccessfully rehashed more times than I can count). According to Mike Strobel, " advice to travellers on Manitoulin is not to dress like a deer, despite your perfect right to do so." Go ahead and wade through if you haven't heard the "but the officer was just trying to be helpful, you ignorant harpies"-argument a million times. At least this article is brief.
Another author has already responded quite eloquently to the above article, but I'd like to address more fully the problems with this, and many other analogies that get tossed around when criticizing the SlutWalk movement.

First, let's please take a moment to look at the dictionary definition of what an analogy is (supposed) to be:

  • analogy[uh-nal-uh-jee]   Origin
    /əˈnælədʒi/ Show Spelled[uh-nal-uh-jee] Show IPA
    noun, plural a·nal·o·gies.
    1. a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump.
    2. similarity or comparability: I see no analogy between your problem and mine.
    3. Biology . an analogous relationship.
    4. Linguistics . a. the process by which words or phrases are created or re-formed according to existing patterns in the language, as when shoon  was re-formed as shoes,  when -ize  is added to nouns like winter  to form verbs, or when a child says foots  for feet.
    b. a form resulting from such a process.
    5. Logic . a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects.
Now that we've covered what an analogy is, let's take a look at a couple of examples of what an analogy isn't:
  • Comparing two items that are totally different, like apples and orangutans
  • Comparing rape to theft
  • Comparing women's bodies (specifically their vaginas) to items that can be stealthily removed and stolen 
  • Comparing rapists (usually implying they're all men) to mindless animals
These bastardizations of analogies come up so often, that they offend my pedantic sensibilities almost as much as they offend the anti-rape activist in me. Let's break down a couple of the most common ones:

Bad analogy: If you dress like a deer on Manitoulin island, you're liable to get shot. Therefore, dress "safely".
Why it's a bad analogy: So many things wrong with this analogy that it makes my head hurt. Firstly, it buys into the Dave Chappelle-esque "whore's uniform" trope that there is a specific outfit that marks one as a sex worker and therefore invites all manner of abuse. In regards to that point, long story short, sex workers don't deserve to be victims of sexual violence. Full-stop.
Also, in this analogy, the hunter is going out with the intention to shoot and kill a deer. The analogue would be a rapist who goes out with the intention to rape someone. You don't have to look "like a deer", you just have to have the misfortunte of being in the viscinity of the intended rapist. If someone goes out with the intention of raping someone, then more than likely they will succeed in their mission. Not because of clothing of their victim, but because the rapist made the decision and made the conditions happen for them to be able to attack and assault someone. And if they "accidentally" rape a virgin, or a mother, or someone with greater social value than a sex worker? Sex workers don't deserve to be targets of sexual violence any more than anyone else, so there is no win either way, unless the rapist is stopped, caught, arrested, or our justice system and culture are changed to make rapists less likely to attempt and get away with sexual assault.

Bad analogy:
If you walk around in a poor neighbourhood waving money, you're liable to get mugged. Therefore, dress more conservatively so you don't get raped.
Why it's a bad analogy: Firstly, articles of clothing have not been shown to increase the chance of one being a victim of sexual violence. If there were an article of clothing that did prevent rape, I'd be spending my time encouraging people to wear it. I'd buy stock, I'd buy in bulk, I'd give this magical item of clothing away on the streetcorners. Secondly, as a woman who is largely femme and passes as a woman, I don't have to do naked cartwheels for people to know I have a vagina. There's no amount of more or less vagina that I have that is more likely to attract a rapist. Rapists don't see someone in tight clothing and suddenly think, "My golly. That person is in possession of a vagina! I was going to go golfing or to see a movie, but now I've decided I'm going to sexually assault them instead." Heck, rape doesn't just happen vaginally, so even the absense of a vagina doesn't protect me if someone wants to victimize me.
A partial side-note to this analogy is that it also draws largely on the trope of rapists only hanging in alleys or "bad" neighbourhoods or someplace dimly lit, with fog machines and scary theme music. This is not how the majority of rapes happen. Most rapes occur in the victim's home by someone they know. That, imo, is much scarier than the alley trope. I can generally avoid alleys (unless access to my apartment or place of employment goes through an alley, or if I find myself homeless and seek refuge in an alley, or any of a million other reasons why alleys exist and people go through them), but avoiding home is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

Bad analogy: You wouldn't wave a piece of raw meat in front of a lion, so don't flaunt your body in front of men if you don't want to get raped.
Why it's a bad analogy: I've talked about this before, so I'll be brief: this analogy tends to paint women as victims and men as aggressors, and does so in the most insulting way to men. According to people who trot out this tired trope, men are slavering, mindless beasts who can be prompted to attack at the slightest provocation because they just can't help themselves. This is ludicrously insulting to the vast majority of men who are not rapists, and ignores the fact that rapists are very much in control of themselves and that the act of rape is purposeful act of violence.

Bad analogy: When you put your goods on display like that, of course people are going to want to sample the merchandize. Dress demurely and you won't be assaulted.
Why it's a bad analogy: My breasts aren't "goods". My ass and legs aren't "goods". They're not something that can be bought and sold piecemeal, separate from my identity, from my person, from my good and bad deeds as a human being. We all come together, lest something dramatic and tragic happens to separate me from my body parts. Furthermore, people of all gender expressions and sexual identities are sexually harassed and assaulted in all manner of clothing, at all ages, regardless of whether they are perceived as traditionally "attractive". Sexual harassment and assault doesn't stop just because someone decided to wear a turtleneck on a particular day. If it did, I'd be investing in stock.

So, when someone tries to explain to the "poor, silly, misguided, estrogen-addled wimmins" why they're wrong when they protest against rape myths like adhering to a particular dress code, with these woefully misguided and erroneous "analogies", either point them to this blog or start singing some Alanis Morrissette really loudly until they get uncomfortable and leave. Your mileage may vary.