Rape jokes and me

I could smell the rape joke coming, before anyone opened their mouths.

I was in improv class this week and we were playing a game called “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” wherein the audience asks the panel of judges an advice question. One judge gives a good answer. One gives a bad answer. One gives an ugly answer.

The question was “How do I get to second base with my girlfriend?”

I sat in audience section shaking my head, because I felt it was inevitable. And I was right.

The Good Judge said something about taking the girl to a movie. The Bad Judge said to get her drunk. The Ugly Judge said chloroform.

The guys laughed and laughed. It was just another hilarious sex joke.
As the only female in the building — someone who has a 1 in 4 chance of being sexually assaulted — I hung my head.

I wanted to do something. I wanted to storm out or preach a sermon. But I didn’t. I know what happens when women speak out against this stuff. They’re labelled as prudes with no sense of humour. They become unwelcome in the comedy community.

So we just moved on, as though everything was okay. It was not okay. Nothing about the scene was okay. The fact that rape is an easy, go-to joke is not okay. But I told myself these guys are harmless, and that their disgusting jokes are a product of larger social issues.

I don’t feel good about the way I handled it, and I’m not sure I have the answers for what to do in the future. And maybe that’s the point. It isn’t easy to reach equality; it’s messy and uncomfortable, and sometimes the consequences of fighting for respect are heavy and unfair. But we press on.


Swiffer thinks women are romantically involved with cleaning products


Date me!

While we’re on the topic of advertising (after talking about Cascade), I would like to add Swiffer to my hitlist.

You’ve probably seen them, but here are the commercials I’m referring to:

In Swifferland, women love cleaning products so much that we not only appreciate them, use them frequently and rely on them to make our lives easier, but we have personal and even romantic relationships with them. When something (not someone) better comes along, we dump our old mops/brooms. And it’s on to the next one, ladies. But, don’t worry, we don’t have to feel bad about our exes; they’ll find other household objects to make up for what we offered them in our previous relationship. And we will move on with our new objects, satisfied with how they fulfill our emotional, intellectual and maybe even physical (ewww) needs.

Cascade thinks women can’t get along

From the Cascade website

From the Cascade website

Nothing boils my blood quite like advertising. Not saying it’s worse than domestic violence or unequal wages or rape culture or (globally speaking) lack of basic human rights, it’s just more noticeable to me.

On today’s hit list: Cascade commercials

In case you haven’t seen them, watch these:




And for good measure:


This is what they’re telling me about women; this is the version of me that they’re trying to sell back to me:

  • Women should and do care a whole lot about sparkling dishes
  • No matter how hard they try, women just can’t get along with each other
  • Women are so competitive that the thought of another woman outperforming them in a domestic task is enough to drop the dish gloves
  • Dish-related conflict is so common that someone, a Kitchen Counsellor, could make a living talking crazy women off the ledge
  • Well-meaning men shouldn’t even try to help us, because women are so bitchy and crazy and clean

Hey Casade. Your advertising sucks. You’re sexist and condescending and old hat.

For my son on International Women’s Day


From Status of Women Canada

As a mother, I have just as much responsibility to teach my son about women’s rights (well, human rights) as I would if I had a daughter. As I thought about this today, I compiled a list of things I want him to understand as he grows up.

  1. Despite ubiquitous and overwhelming messages to the contrary, women’s bodies do not exist to be admired, criticized, evaluated, complimented, and/or picked apart. If you have opinions about a woman’s body, keep them to yourself.
  2. Women and men have differences, but we have more similarities. Be skeptical of information that polarizes the sexes. We’re all human.
  3. Women do not exist to be adjuncts to your life and your dreams. While your wife (if you have one) should support you and spur you on, her goals are just as important as yours.
  4. 99% of the female bodies you see on TV represent less then 5% of the body types real-world women have. Adjust expectations accordingly. Also, refer to Point 1.
  5. Don’t act like a jerk to get girls. Don’t act like a nice guy to get girls. “Getting girls” is not a hobby—it’s predatory. If want a relationship, be open and be yourself.
  6. Women are not cunts, bitches, hoes, or sluts. Don’t ever let me catch you using these words.
  7. Despite your best intentions, complimenting a female stranger on her looks is creepy. It’s not flattering; it’s off-putting. Also, refer to Point 1.
  8. There’s no such thing as a typical girl. Some women are emotional, some aren’t. Some women like to talk; some don’t. Some women enjoy preening; others don’t. Some women want children; some don’t. Like men, women are not a homogenous group. Enjoy the diversity!
  9. Beware of women who speak poorly of other women. It’s a sign of poor character and a weak sense of self.
  10. No one likes housework, and you’re no more entitled to be a slob than anyone else is. Expect no one to pick up after you.
  11. Uncomfortable though it may be to receive sex advice from your mother, this is important: Approach sex with a “yes means yes” mentality; you will have better sex. There is a difference between having sex with someone who will merely ‘let’ you, and someone who genuinely wants to have sex with you. If you have to convince/pressure/manipulate someone to sleep with you, you’re in the wrong.
  12. While we’re on the topic of sex, let’s discuss porn. I’d like for you never to watch it, because I think it screws up men’s ideas about women and sex. That said, should you happen to watch porn, please know that actors are paid to look as though they’re enjoying themselves. Adjust expectations accordingly. And for heaven’s sake, do not view it as a model of regular and healthy sexual activity. (See: http://makelovenotporn.com/pages/landing)
  13. Sex trafficking is a legitimate issue in this country. Research it.
  14. You are not entitled to have sex just because you want it. Put another way: The only sex you are entitled to is that which you have with yourself.
  15. Know your privilege. You don’t have to feel guilty about it, just be aware of it and advocate for those on the margins.

Why women aren’t funny

I keep hearing that women aren’t funny. These are my thoughts on why this probably is.

X is funny.
Male comedians talk about X.
Therefore, men are funny.

X is funny.
(Some) Female comedians talk about Y (sometimes).
Therefore, no women are funny.

It doesn’t matter that elements of X have the potential to alienate 50% of the audience. That’s too bad for them, because X is categorically funny.

Y deviates from X. And since only X is funny, Y cannot possibly be funny. To anyone. That matters.

If X includes objectification of women, too bad; it’s funny. If X includes rape jokes, too bad; it’s funny. If within X, women’s contributions to society are trivialized, minimized and sexualized, too bad; it’s funny.

One more thing: if you don’t think X is funny — which it obviously is —  you are automatically a scheming witch with zero sense of humour and you are obviously trying to bring men down, which is a travesty, because men are picked on constantly nowadays, and it’s not fair, and men deserve to walk through life saying and doing whatever they want, and anyone who gets in the way of that deserves a comment field full of physically and sexually violent threats.

Thank you.

Taking names

I rented Hot Tub Time Machine last night. Not an award winner, but I enjoyed it. Having laughed my way through it, there was still one element of the plot that irked me. I realise that picking apart a made-for-guys comedy isn’t exactly worth it, but I’d like to bring it up nonetheless.

One of the characters in the movie, Nick, is a whipped and emasculated husband who can’t imagine his world without his cheating wife. His friends constantly make fun of him for being “her little bitch”. At one point, even though he tries to hide it from his friends, we find out that Nick has hyphenated his last name with his wife’s.

When everyone overhears it, they make fun of him for being a bigger “pussy” than before. They bring it up two more times, questioning how he could have let it happen. In the end, Nick gets his name back, which I guess is supposed to signify that he got himself back.

As someone who took my husband’s last name (except professionally), this grated me. I can’t understand why a woman should take a man’s last name and be happy about it, but a man shouldn’t take a woman’s name because it’s demeaning. What does this say about the perceived worth of a woman’s identity versus a man’s?

It’s funny to me that a father’s last name is strong and honourable, but as soon as the name belongs to his daughter, it somehow weakens, and her husband would have to be a poor excuse for a man to take it as his own. To me, the message is clear: it’s not the name that became weak; the weakness lies within the person to whom the name was given.

This is another example of tradition preventing people from thinking critically. We just do things, because that’s how they’ve been done. Never mind that by the time most women get married, they have had their name for two-plus decades and have accomplished many things under that name. Never mind that actually changing a name is a pain in the ass (which is why I think most divorced women keep their ex’s name). Never mind that a husband’s last name might just suck compared to the wife’s.  (Not to knock Sorlie or anything, Dad, but mom’s maiden name, Moore, was rad.)

I’m not saying women shouldn’t take men’s names. I’m also not advocating for worldwide hyphenation, because, really, it’s a slippery slope. I am, however, encouraging that we develop an open mind surrounding the topic.

Weighing in: Niqabs in France

From the Slate article http://www.slate.com/id/2253493

I was just reading this Hitchens article (about banning niqab veils in France) and I wanted to comment but why create a login when I can just write my response here. It seems Hitchens supports banning veiled burqas for a few great reasons, equality being one of them.  I read the article and I found it most interesting, but there was something still irking me.

Although I agree that face-covering naqibs are ridiculous and oppressive, I don’t necessarily agree with banning them. Here’s why:

1. The argument is STILL about what women should (and, in this case, shouldn’t) wear — it’s a discussion that displaces the problem, instead of solves it.

2. Banning something doesn’t change minds, it just changes behaviours. If you want conversion (which I personally would prefer), legislation is not the answer. I believe that education and open dialogue is.
(p.s. I also think ALL religious people need to consider this in their own political activism, especially North American Christians)

3. I see an arrogance in the argument because it dismisses those women who actually choose to wear it. By saying “they’re not liberated enough to know any better” undermines a woman’s ability to self-reflect. While I am guilty of this very thought pattern, I am still critical of it. It’s an easy trap to fall into and, applied elsewhere, has significant implications.