Tag Archives: feminist

Labels everywhere


Liberal.  Conservative.  Christian.  Atheist.  Feminist.  Humanist.     As you read each of those words, did any thoughts come to mind?  Did any of those words make you feel a flash of some emotion?

Classification is the key to human speech.  Our ability to identify and categorize things is what allows us to assign words to them.  Some of those words are used to describe a particular item, while others are used to describe a set of beliefs or values.  They form the basis of our communication structure.

Words are useful for simplifying conversation.  When someone asks you about yourself, rather than go into a long-winded explanation of your belief structure, you can simply tell them, “Oh I’m a [x].”

At a glance there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that.  But what if the person you’re speaking with has a different understanding of what [x] means and what it stands for?  Sure all of the words I listed above have an accepted dictionary definition, but how many of us actually know what those formal definitions are?  Each of us assigns our own meaning and interpretation to those words.  Some words even have more than one definition.

Liberal.  Does that mean a supporter or member of the Liberal Party of Canada?  Or does it just describe a set of social values?  Is it the modern interpretation of the word?  Or does it refer to classical liberalism?  How I respond to someone who says, “Oh I’m a liberal” will vary greatly depending on how I choose to interpret their usage of the word.  How I interpret it may not be how they meant it.  They may have a completely different concept of what the word means, unique to only them.

Apart from the obvious misunderstandings that can arise from different definitions of a word, there is the larger issue that comes from how people use those words.  It’s one thing to use a word to describe your beliefs.  It’s quite another to turn that word into a symbol of your beliefs.  Too often I see people find a label that fits them, and then immediately internalize that word.  They make that label a part of their identity.  Once that happens, all rational discussion on a topic ends.

It’s no longer a description of an idea, it’s now a key component of their very being.  Any attempt you make to criticize the idea will be viewed as a personal attack instead.  People become defensive and stubborn and dig into their position.  They fight tooth and nail to defend themselves and their label, without giving any more thought to the ideas behind that label.

To give an example, I recently became involved in a short-lived discussion with someone who called themselves a feminist.   When I said that I didn’t like the level of misandry that seemed to be so prevalent in modern feminism, the attack that followed was immediate and brutal.  She berated me for accusing her of hating men, then went into a long tirade with examples of how she didn’t had great men in her life whom she loved and didn’t hate.  She called me a disgrace to women and a traitor to the sisterhood for daring to question the holy word of feminism.  Eventually she ended her rant by storming off in a huff.

This is what happens when people internalize their labels.  I entered that conversation wanting to have an open exchange of ideas with someone about their beliefs.  I was looking for an open and honest discussion of the pros and cons of the feminist movement, and its place in our society.  Instead, that person took a simple question as a personal affront.  Rather than engaging me in discussion and perhaps pointing out where I was mistaken, she immediately became defensive and locked into her position.  In her frantic attempts to defend her label, she lost a perfect opportunity to educate someone who was willing to learn about her beliefs.

I see this scenario playing out time and again in all areas of life.  People are so caught up in defending their labels, that they have completely lost sight of the ideas behind them.  By using these words to define themselves, instead of just to describe a set of beliefs, they can no longer hear criticism of the idea without seeing it as a criticism of their identity.  When people become entrenched in defending a label, they are closed to any discussion of the idea.

Without open discussion of ideas, our society is doomed to failure, permanently divided.  Labels are an integral part of human communication, and that’s never going to change.  All that I can ask is that people be aware of how they use them.  Remember that the label does not define you.  It only describes one part of you.  Well-intentioned criticism of an idea that you believe in, is not a criticism of you.

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Women and Gun Control – Part 2


As public debate over the long gun registry heats up, the Gun Control Lobby is continuing to push their stance of gun control being a women’s issue.  In particular, they are claiming that it is a rural women’s issue.  I decided to take a look at this stance in a three part series.

In Part 1, I discussed how the current system of gun control in Canada is diverting money away from programs that could help women who are victims of abuse.  In Part 3, I will be dealing with self defense.

In this part, I’m going to break down the numbers regarding violent crime, family violence and homicide in this country.  Where does it happen, who are the victims, and what are the causes.

Causes

Contrary to what gun control and feminist advocates would have us believe, guns are not a risk factor for domestic violence.  According to the Canadian Department of Justice, the major risk factors for spousal violence are

  • being a young person
  • living in a common law relationship
  • having a partner who periodically drinks heavily
  • emotional abuse in the relationship, and
  • marital separation

Statistics Canada also adds being Aboriginal to that list.  20% of the Aboriginal population has reported being victims of family violence compared with 7% of the non-Aboriginal population.

A journal article, National Trends in Intimate Partner Homicides: Explaining Declines in Canada 1976-2001 made some more interesting points.  I would especially like to point out the date range of this study, 1976-2001, and remind my readers that the long gun registry did not come into force until 2001.

Over the time period studied, spousal homicide rates had declined by about 50%, falling from 8.5 (per million spouses) in 1976 to 4.2 in 2001.  Spousal homicides using a firearm had declined by 81% over the same time period. 

For those who like to make comparisons with the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 1976-2000 our “gun loving” cousins to the south saw a decline in spousal homicides of 45%.  Keep in mind that gun ownership in the US of A increases by about 4.5 million guns per year.  Allow me to repeat that: over a 24 year period, as gun ownership increased spousal homicide decreased.

According to the National Trends article, the reasons for these declines in both countries were

  • male to female employment ratios (more women had jobs)
  • higher education levels for both men and women
  • marrying later in life
  • starting a family later in life and having fewer children
  • social programs which make it easier for victims to leave their abusers

I hope my anti-gun readers have noted how guns and gun control are not mentioned anywhere as either a cause or a solution to the issues of domestic violence.

Where does it happen?

There is definitely some truth to the claim that rural Canadians are more at risk of spousal violence than their urban neighbours. 

  POPULATION SHELTERS SHELTERS PER 100,000 RATE OF SPOUSAL VIOLENCE*
Canada 33,739,900 569 1.7 188
Nfld & Labrador 508,900 15 2.9 123
PEI 141,000 5 3.5 128
Nova Scotia 938,200 16 1.7 145
New Brunswick 749,500 22 2.9 84
Quebec 7,828,900 126 1.6 241
Ontario 13,069,200 160 1.2 141
Manitoba 1,222,000 29 2.4 215
Saskatchewan 1,030,100 24 2.3 329
Alberta 3,687,700 50 1.4 249
BC 4,455,200 110 2.5 124**
Yukon 33,700 5 14.8 421
NWT 43,400 7 9.3 1,605
Nunavut 32,200 2,472

* Rate per 100,000 population
** Incomplete data for British Columbia

There is little data available on the reasons for the greater incidence of abuse in rural areas.  One thing that is known is that there is less help available to victims of spousal violence in rural Canada.  Even though the territories have a high per capita number of shelters, those shelters have very limited services available.  Additionally, because of the vast distances involved in all rural areas, it is not always possible for victims of abuse to reach help when it is available.  Other factors like education levels, financial dependence and divorce rates also play a role in this urban/rural divide. 

While spousal violence may be a bigger issue in rural Canada, there is no clear divide when it comes to violent crime and homicide.  Large and small communities are affected equally in this regard.  There are many socio-economic factors that come into play.

Who are the victims?

Here’s where the numbers become interesting.  There are about 330,000 victims of violent crime in Canada each year.  If we believe our misandrist lobby groups, the number of female victims should far exceed the number of male victims.  Right?

Wrong.  In 2007, 50.04% of the victims of violent crime were female.  Basic math tells me that 49.96% of the victims were male.  Hardly a staggering difference.  In cases of domestic violence, 7% of women and 6% of men have reported violence at the hands of their partner.  Again, hardly a noticeable difference. 

Specifically regarding family violence, the numbers are still not so different, with 63% of female victims and 61% of male victims suffering from common assault (Level 1).  However, the results are not always so balanced.  Men are twice as likely as women to be the victim of a serious assault (Level 2 or 3 – assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm). 

Common assault has been declining steadily since the 1970s, however serious assault has been increasing for the last 25 years, falling for the first time in 2008.  It’s no large stretch to see that violence against women is on the decrease, while violence against men is on the increase.

Let’s take a similar look at homicides in Canada.  In 2008, the lowest rate (24%) of female victims since 1961 was recorded.  Conversely, the rate of male homicide victims has been rising steadily for the last 10 years.  In terms of spousal homicide, women are 4 times as likely as men to be killed by a current or former intimate partner (51 vs. 14 for 2007).

To summarize all those numbers and add a couple of new ones:

  • men are twice as likely as women to be assaulted with a weapon
  • men are three times more likely to be the victim of a homicide
  • all forms of violence against women have been falling since the 1960s
  • all forms of violence against men have remained stable or have been increasing
  • spousal violence and homicide has been falling since the 1970s
  • women are four times more likely than men to be killed by an intimate partner
  • homicide by long gun (rifle/shotgun) has been falling steadily since the 1970s
  • homicide by handgun has increased by 24% since 2002

Putting it all together

Well, now that I’ve bamboozled you with statistics, what does it all mean?

It means that violence in our society is not a simple issue.  Gun control advocates and feminist groups would have us believe that women are always the helpless victim at the hands of Neanderthal men. 

What I have attempted to show you with all these facts is that, while women are more often the victim in specific circumstances, the same holds true for men.  Guns are not a gendered issue any more than drunk driving is a mother’s issue.  Violence in our society affects everyone and the divisive tactics employed by groups like IANSA and the Coalition for Gun Control do little to help anyone.

Guns are not the problem in our society, nor are they the solution.  Until the real problems are addressed, weapons – including guns – will always have a place in our world. 

Sources

WOMEN AND GUN CONTROL – PART 1
WOMEN AND GUN CONTROL – PART 3

Folly of Feminism


The Toronto Star recently ran an article discussing a report released by the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (CFAIA) and the Canadian Labour Congress.

I could critique the usual fear-mongering and misuse of statistics in their report, or postulate on why a labour union was involved in its creation. However, I think a more useful approach is to focus on feminism as a whole.

In their earliest forms, feminism and women’s liberation were noble movements.  They sought to give women equality, legal autonomy, self-determination, and freedom of choice in a broad range of topics from reproduction to employment.  However, in more recent years, the agenda of feminist activists seems to have less to do with giving disadvantaged women a hand up and more to do with giving them a handout.

Activists wail and beat their drums, blaming everything from men to weapons to government for the plight of subjugated women everywhere.  They ignore the fact that portraying women as helpless victims of society undermines the entire concept of feminism.  They also ignore the fact that men and women are different.  While striving for total equality is noble, it’s also a pipe dream.  Men and women are not equal and they never will be.  There are very definite physical, emotional and mental differences between the sexes.  Some roles in our society are better suited to women, others to men, and no amount of government initiatives will ever alter that fact.

Should women have the opportunity to tackle any societal role that they choose?  Absolutely. However, so should men.  While there are still traditionally male-dominated areas where it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a woman to break through, the same holds true for men. 

This brings up another concept that modern feminist activists refuse to acknowledge: that men suffer too.  In their world, violence or discrimination against a woman is a human rights abuse, but violence or discrimination against a man is not just normal, it’s acceptable.  The divisive tactics used by feminist activists show that they have another agenda that has nothing to do with bettering the lives of women.  If they were truly interested in bettering our society, they would be looking at ways to improve the quality of life for everyone, not just women.

Taking a slightly different tack, in the Star article I mentioned above, wage parity (or lack thereof) in Canadian society is brought up.  I’m not going to touch on the fact that the professor quoted in the article is focussing only on wages as an indicator of quality of life.  Instead I’m going to point out how feminist activists, as usual, fail to take into consideration 3 very key issues that cause such a discrepancy in earnings: choice, childbearing and communication.

Many women simply choose not to go into higher paying (and traditionally male-dominated) fields.  The reasons are many and varied: it may be a career that is better suited to men, women just aren’t interested, or if they are in the field they’re unwilling to do what’s necessary to earn their place.  You see, equal opportunity isn’t something that can come from government handouts or special committees.  Like men, women need to push through obstacles on their own and prove that they are capable of doing the job.

I’ve worked in a male-centric field my entire adult-life and I’ve encountered many seemingly “backward” or “sexist” attitudes along the way.  I know my male readers are going to love this, but men really are like children 😀  They will regularly push the boundaries to see what they can get away with.  Women planning to work in a mostly male environment need to learn how to thrive in that environment.  There are many tricks and tools that are far more effective than crying “harassment” and seeking disciplinary action.  Gaining acceptance isn’t about running to management to complain that your male co-workers aren’t playing nice and trying to demand their respect simply because of your gender.  It’s about earning their respect based on merit. 

Connected to Choice is the second item I mentioned: Childbearing.  In 60% of two-earner families, one partner works full-time while the other either doesn’t work, or works part-time.  In 91% of those families, the man is the primary breadwinner. [Source: Statistics Canada, Family Work Patterns]  It’s pretty simple.  Women who have children work less, which means they have less work experience than their male co-workers, which means they will earn less. 

I can already hear people complaining that women are being “punished” for having children.  Quite the contrary, it’s actually very equal.  Like their male co-workers, they’re being paid based on their recent relevant work experience, rather than being given a handout simply for being female. 

My last point is communication.  Many a book has been written outlining the differences in communication styles between men and women.  In general, men tend to be more direct and ask for what they want.  Women tend to use a more subtle approach. 

Over the years I’ve seen the following scenario happen time and again, not so much in unionized employment, but definitely in the private sector:  Joe and Jane start working in the same job at the same company at the same time earning the same wage.  Five years later, they’re both in the same job, but Joe is now earning more than Jane.  Another 5 years down the road, Jane is still in the same job, earning only slightly more than when she started, while Joe has been promoted and received a raise…twice!

The modern feminist would have us believe that this is a perfect example of inequality in the workplace.  On the contrary, it’s a perfect example of a skill that women need to be taught in order to be successful in the workplace.  Why is Joe doing so much better in the company than Jane?  Because he asked.  Women will toil away at a job for years, expecting their boss to notice their hard work and offer them a raise or promotion.  Men will simply go to their boss and ask for it.

Much progress has been made in the quest for women’s rights over the last 200 years.  Laws have been made and repealed; cultural norms have been challenged and changed.  Government legislation has gone about as far as it can go.  It’s now up to women to pick up the flag and run with it themselves.

Instead of undermining their own efforts by portraying women as victims, feminists need to start taking a more positive and proactive approach.  Rather than wasting their time and energy lobbying for sympathy and handouts, they should be teaching women the skills they need to succeed.

“Montreal Massacre” – Twenty years later


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the “Montreal Massacre”.  On December 6, 1989 Marc Lépine/Gamil Gharbi embarked on a shooting spree at École Polytechnique in Montreal.  In twenty minutes, he shot 28 people, killing 14, before turning his gun on himself.

Tragedies of this sort are extremely rare in Canada.  Since 1975, when the first recorded shooting took place, there have been only 8 school shootings in this country. The École Polytechnique shooting claimed more lives than all of the other shootings combined.

The real tragedy though, is the way that left-wing fringe groups continue to use the events of that day for their own purposes.  While I don’t agree with them, I can understand why the founders of the Coalition for Gun Control reacted as they did in the immediate aftermath of the shooting – the CGC was co-founded by Wendy Cukier and Heidi Rathjen, who was present at École Polytechnique the day of the shooting. 

What I can’t understand or condone is how they justify their actions now, twenty years after the fact.  Every year, militant feminist groups and gun control advocates brazenly disinter the victims, parading their ghosts before the public in a thinly veiled attempt to manipulate and shame people into supporting their cause.

The shooting at École Polytechnique was unique because the gunman specifically targetted women for the purpose of “fighting feminism”.  Much discussion has taken place over the last two decades as to what motivated Marc Lépine/Gamil Gharbi.  Some point to his upbringing with a mysoginist father, others say he suffered brain damage due to abuse, but the most commonly trumpeted response is that he was representative of wider societal violence against women.

It is this thinking that has led extremist feminist groups to hijack the anniversary of that day to shamelessly use it for their own ends.  Rather than seeking real solutions to violence in our society and the causes of domestic abuse, they instead sully the memory of those who died in order to promote their own brand of misandry.

Approximately 70 women are killed as a result of domestic violence each year. Since 1989, that’s roughly 1400 women who have lost their lives.  If these organizations claiming to be for the advancement of women’s rights were truly interested in preventing violence against women, you’d think they would be focussing on the 1400, rather than the 14.

There’s a very simple reason why these groups focus on the 14 though: it’s easier.  Concentrating on the 1400 would require them to look for real solutions to complicated and deeply rooted problems in our society.  By making a lot of noise and focussing on the gun control legislation that sprang from this tragedy, they can go to bed at night content that they’ve “done something” to prevent violence against women.  It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t work.

This year, when the Gun Control Lobby and the extremist feminist groups dishonour the victims of École Polytechnique, which they’ve already started, take a moment to remember that the women who lost their lives that day were people, not symbols.  See the organizations who debase the memory of these women for what they really are: a group of angry, scared and grieving people who would rather blame men and guns for all of their problems than tackle the real issues.

Rest in Peace

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968)
Hélène Colgan (born 1966)
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966)
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967)
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968)
Maud Haviernick (born 1960)
Maryse Laganière (born 1964)
Maryse Leclair (born 1966)
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967)
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961)
Michèle Richard (born 1968)
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966)
Annie Turcotte (born 1969)
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958)

Family law is unfair you say?


I read with interest the story of Alison Shaw in today’s issue of The Star.  After joking in an email that her marital problems could be solved with a gun, Ms Shaw was arrested, jailed overnight, forced out of her home, and ordered to stay away from her three children.

The cries of “overreaction” regarding this case can be heard for miles.  I say: it’s about bloody time.  If more women had to experience the judicial atrocities that men have been subjected to for decades, then maybe…just maybe…our horribly gender-biased family courts would finally be overhauled.

In today’s world of divorce and blended families, fathers have been reduced to ATM Status in the lives of their children.  They are villified and portrayed as unfit parents, and even as abusers and sex offenders “waiting to happen”.  They have no recourse against ex-wives who actively attempt to alienate them from their children (known as Malicious Mother Syndrome).  They often have to deal with slander and false accusations, which, even if disproved, will usually follow them for years.  While they have the option of civil court as recourse to the latter two issues, they are often emotionally and financially bankrupted by the divorce and child support proceedings, making a civil suit virtually impossible to pursue.

Going back to Ms Shaw’s case: while it is refreshing to see the shoe on the other foot for once, she still got off lightly.  She was released on bail and has since been granted 50/50 access to her children.  Had it been a man who had joked about shooting his wife, bail would have been set significantly higher.  As for 50/50 access to the children – don’t make me laugh.  He would be lucky to see them at all, let alone have any shared access rights.

Men’s rights groups have been screaming about the inequalities and bias in our family courts for years without success.  Why does it take a woman being subjected to the same laws for the courts to finally realize that something needs to change?

The militant feminist groups who preach “equality”, (but who are truly seeking “superiority”) have, unfortunately, succeeded in shaping our family court laws.  They have succeeded in emasculating men, and, as a result, society as a whole.  The venom and hatred these groups direct towards honest men under the guise of “equality” and “human rights” is disgusting.  The actions of these groups, and of women who think nothing of manipulating the courts in order to destroy their ex-husbands, make me ashamed to share their gender. 

I hope to see many, many more stories like Ms Shaw’s in the future.  Because the more women who are “victimized” by these laws, the sooner they will change.  I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to live in a world where men are nothing more than sperm donors and bank accounts.