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Archive for September, 2006

on 9/11

Warning: This is not going to be a warm and fuzzy, tearjerking post about the tragic loss of life that happened 5 years ago today and how we all should remember it forever. Yes, innocent lives were lost. Yes it was a tragedy. No one is doubting that. That’s not at all my point today.

I live in Canada. I don’t think much of the policies or government of my neighbours to the south. I have been accused of holding anti-american sentiments more than once, and I don’t disagree with that assessment. Please note: I don’t hate americans, far from it. My aunt and uncle are american. I have friends who are american. individual american citizens are not my problem. it’s the collective american (un)consciousness – of which not every american is guilty – and the american government I have a problem with. It’s the president who wasn’t really elected. It’s the war on a beleagured country that poses little threat. It’s the slaughtering of innocent people. It’s the conscious cultivation of ignorance practiced by the government-media organizations. It’s the dangerous combination of arrogance and ignorance. that’s what bothers me.

Today, on the fifth anniversary of the largest terrorist attack on any western country, Condoleeza Rice is coming to my city. Five years ago, many americans were stranded here as planes were diverted because US airspace was closed. My city hosted many americans during a difficult time. Condoleeza Rice is apparently coming here to show her country’s gratitude for the support and help my city showed for american citizens during that country’s darkest hour. I say, stay the fuck home. You’re not welcome here.

Someone needs to standup and explain to me what justification the bush administration has for twisting the deaths of 9/11 victims into a reason to attack Iraq. I’m sure some of them are rolling in their graves. Someone needs to explain why Osama bin Laden wasn’t prevented from making the attack in the first place.  Someone needs to explain why the policies that promote the poverty of other countries and led to the anti-american sentiments that fueled 9/11 haven’t been changed in the face of this tragedy. Someone needs to explain to me what the fuck Canadian soldiers are still doing fighting and dying in Afghanistan cleaning up america’s mess, cause I’m pretty sure bin Laden isn’t there anymore. Someone needs to explain why millions of US dollars were paid to Afghani druglords for information about bin Laden’s whereabouts that obviously never led to his capture but did certainly lead to a resurgence of the Taliban in that country and all the violations of human rights that accompany that regime. Someone needs to explain why US troops pulled out of Afghanistan when Canadian troops stayed there, to look like hypocritical fools and be sent home in pine boxes to their families. Someone needs to explain to me why american lives are more valuable than any others. Someone needs to explain why america has publicly chastised Canada for not going to join their unsanctioned guerilla warfare in Iraq after the treatment of our troops by america in Afghanistan. Someone needs to explain to me why the sudden shift from finding the US’s number one enemy, Osama bin Laden, to hunting down Saddam Hussein like a dog in a brutal war that has broken several if not all of the Geneva conventions and caused massive destruction and loss of innocent lives. Someone needs to explain to me why the cost of the Iraq war is more important than providing universal healthcare to american citizens. Someone needs to explain the justification for a war to supposedly free the people of Iraq from an unjust and despotic regime, but his absence of such a cause in Afghanistan where the people were/are in the grips of a much worse regime that Saddam’s. Someone needs to explain just how George Bush got into office in the first place, and why on earth he thinks he has the authority to get on television and lecture to the world about democracy when his own election was anything but. Oh yes, somebody’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

George Bush himself came to my city two years ago, to thank us for our help during 9/11. You wanna know what he did while he was here? He took the opportunity to once again chastise my government for not joining him in his oil war in Iraq. that motherfucker had the nerve to come to my city and chastise us, who provided him with shelter for his people and soldiers for his cause in Afghanistan. (he also had basically the entire city blocked off for security reasons, which made me miss an exam, when he could easily have been flown in by helicoptor to his destination. That also pissed me off.)

so, Condi, if you’re reading this, stay the FUCK out of my city. keep your admonishments of my government to yourself. we lost people in 9/11 too, and we continue to lose soldiers to 9/11 in Afghanistan. We were happy to help during 9/11. We grieved along with you. We don’t want or need a pat on the back for being hospitable and kind. We’d do it again today if the need arose. We also don’t want or need your lies, your bullshit, your manipulations, your admonshiments, your warmongering, your cancerous diseased american ignorance/arrogance. go fuck yourself.

and that’s how I feel about that.

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so, many of you know that i love to cook. and bake too. since becoming vegetarian, I’ve been doing a lot more cooking so I can ensure I get all the nutrients I’m supposed to have each day. I love cookbooks for inspiration, but mostly, I make things up. I thought I’d start sharing some of my “recipes” – which term I use very loosely as I rarely measure anything! This is what I made for supper today:

Roasted Red Pepper and Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried red lentils
  • 2 leeks
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 pkg of silken tofu
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • about a cup of vegetable stock
  • a couple dollops of sour cream (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper (use the stuff you have to grind yourself, it’s so much better)
  • paprika
  • cayenne pepper
  • NB: you’ll need a good blender. a hand blender will do the trick.

Instructions:

  1. Place red peppers on a cookie sheet and place them under the broiler until the skins turn black. Rotate frequently – the whole skin should be black all the way around. This takes about 20 minutes.
  2. Rinse lentils well and drain. They’re usually quite small, so use a small strainer. 2 cups of lentils requires 6 cups of water to cook. Use a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook till they are mushy, about 15-20 minutes. Don’t worry about how it looks. Drain when they’re done and set aside.
  3. While the red peppers are broiling, chop leeks into small pieces. Only use the white part, not the green. Sautee in a bit of EVOO over medium-low heat until translucent. Don’t burn them! Remove from heat and mix with the lentils.
  4. Now your peppers should be done. Take them out and set the oven to 425 F. Let the peppers cool for a few minutes and drain off any liquid. Take a damp paper towel and remove the blackened skins. If that doesn’t work use the back of a spoon. Next, cut them open from stem to bottom and remove the stem and seeds. Cut the peppers into fairly large pieces, lay them in a single layer on the cookie sheet, drizzle with EVOO and place them in the oven to roast for about 15-20 minutes. Check on them to make sure the edges don’t burn, but they don’t need to be turned.
  5. Blend together lentils, leeks, vegetable stock, garlic, and tofu until completely smooth. place this mixture in your large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Add spices to taste – easy on the cayenne, you just want to use a little bit to create some warmth in the soup.
  6. When the peppers are finished roasting, blend them in the blender and add this to the soup mixture. If the soup doesn’t look creamy enough for your liking, add a couple dollops of sour cream. cook the whole soup mixture for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Enjoy!

try out this yummy soup! roasted red peppers are among my very most favourite things. they take a little while to make, but it’s worth it. This soup has lots of protein, no dairy (unless you use the sour cream), hardly any fat (just in the EVOO, but that’s good fat, right!?) and lots of fibre. Plus, you’ve got at least a couple servings of vegetables in there, with the leeks and the peppers and the vegetable stock.

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sorry

I’m distracted and tired and cranky today. It was my first day back at school, and I don’t feel like writing anything. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. My books – for 3 classes – cost me $250. My car just cost me $400. I’m not even all that interested in two of my three classes but I have to fulfill requirements for my degree. I have to apply to schools for my next degree by November 1 and take the qualifying exam for that program in December, for which I have to, of course, study my ass off. The schools I want to go to are all not where I live, so I will have to move IF I get accepted. Telling my mother this will not be a pretty picture. She might never forgive me. (Shouldn’t have put all her eggs in one basket and had an only child, I say!) She will definitely cry, and definitely lay on the guilt, and definitely tell me I’m crazy for wanting to go to a school that will cost me $30,000 a year. Oh, and I can’t afford that, so I will have to get loans, which means I pretty much have to pay off all my current debt this year. Which will bascially be all my earnings. So no fun for Thinking Girl this year. I have honours meetings with two of my three advisors and have to be organized for that, I have to submit paperwork to the university for graduation, I have to organize money for tuition, and I have to write a paper for next Friday, and all I really want to do is lay down for a while, or go on a trip, or read fiction, or watch movies all day long. (Did I mention that I have two forms of Kryptonite? One is these sweet little swedish roll cakes, chocolate with sugary whipped creamy white stuff inside, all rolled up into yummy goodness. The other is that I am completely immobilized by administrative bullshit, like paying bills and doing paperwork and opening mail.) On top of all this, I miss my best friends so much it hurts.

So, I’m not writing anything for Feminism Friday today. If you see something tomorrow or the next day, I’ve had an amazing stroke of inspiration. Don’t count on it. Maybe I’ll just declare this an open thread, and whoever wants to talk about something can do so….

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you know, the more I think about this false consciousness stuff, the more I think that where it applies most clearly is to the ruling class, those benefitting by social structures that oppress others. (I know, this isn’t a new insight and is represented in Marxist literature.) Internalized oppression is a phenomenon that isn’t to be taken lightly, which is kind of what this post is playing around with, but also important is to recognize that those who are benefitted by patriarchy, in this case, but also by other oppressive systems notably racism and heterosexism do not realize that they benefit, or that the structures are the way they are.

Jess’s comment on the false consciousness post brought this to mind for me whilst I was in the shower – I do my best thinking there, I swear to y’all! – about the guy who emailed me a couple months back resisting feminism so strongly and denying that women are still oppressed by gender roles. I think a lot of men simply don’t want to admit that they are privileged and benefit from the oppression of women. I also think a lot of men don’t recognize that we’re talking about social constructions that have occurred over hundreds and hundreds of years, and not a result of biology or natural selection or evolution. so false consciousness applies most directly to these people, I think, and also contributing to this is the liberal ideology that we all get to where we are based on our own abilities and merit and nothing else. so when rich white men look around and see an absence of women, of people of colour, of disabled people, of gay/lesbian/bi/trans people, they think there is something inherently superior about them, that they have worked hard and look at all those other white rich men who have worked hard and those lazy stupid “others” no matter how hard they work can never get to the same position because they are “naturally” and inherently inferior. The tokens who do make it up the ladder of success are used as evidence of the american dream – not as evidence of people in control of networks who decide a black woman would be good for ratings, for example… but for so many people, the american dream is nothing but a slap in the face as they struggle againt socially constructed barriers to success. It’s an insult, because the same system that tells us that anyone can do anything if they try hard enough rewards people based on luck – the luck of one’s gender, race, sexual preference, ability, etc. So the message spoken out the side of our society’s mouth is that some people will never really be successful because they don’t fit the mold. Those who do fit the mold simply are made to believe their hard work got them to where they are, and so are the tokens who use their own experience as fuel for the white capitalist patriarchy’s fire. But what does that say about those who can’t overcome socially constructed obstacles? It says: They are lazy, they are stupid, they want to fail, they “choose” the lives they have, they are undeserving of social assistance, they are unworthy of sympathy. Or, there is something wrong with them. It’s the way they were raise (blame the mother), it’s their religion, it’s the size of their brains, it’s because they are biologically inferior, their IQs are “naturally” lower. ETC.

Unearned privilege gets some people very far in the world without even having to try. Combine that with a culture that encourages their every effort and a system that supports them, and it sure does seem like they deserve what they get in life – and by contrast, we ALL deserve waht we get in life. Sounds like false consciousness to me. I think we’d be smart to acknowledge that.

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Darwin

I’m sick of Darwin. I mean, Darwin was a genius, he devised our modern understanding of biology, and that’s great and all, but I’m sick of people using Darwin as proof of the end of biological development. You know, maybe Darwin wasn’t right about everything. Like the fact he basically ignored social homosexual behaviour in animals and focussed on sex as a purely biological function for the purposes of reproduction. I don’t think he meant for his theory to be taken to mean that we have stopped evolving, just as an explanation for how we’ve evolved thus far. Like the infamous argument about hunter/gatherer societies, and that humans evolved this way and so they must be stuck there somehow and that it proves men are superior to women in some twisted an inexplicable way. Maybe Darwin’s interpretation is fucked up, ever thought of that? Maybe women were actually revered as the bringers of life and were considered superior and so didn’t have to do all that hard work of catching animals.

Could/did Darwin predict that people would be evolving using non-organic materials, like those folks who are implanting computer chips into their arms so they can open their houses without using keys? (you know what I’m talking about, right?) Or technology like artifical parts that replace things like heart valves? And would he have predicted things like transplants using porcine and bovine parts? What did/would Darwin think of cyborgs? And why do people use Darwin to make believe that we have stopped evolving?

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Okey-dokey. This is a pretty hotly contested theory, in both Marxism (where it originated) and in feminism. It seems to me as though it is a concept that needs some discussion. Beware: academic jargon/lingo awaits. Keep Wikipedia open in another tab (they have a great series on Marxist thought).
The basic theory of false consciousness arises in Marxism. The idea is that the capitalist system controls the proletariat (and perhaps other classes) by misleading him/her about the very nature of the capitalist system itself through institutional processes. The proletariat does not know the true manipulation of the capitalist system over his/her life, but is lulled into a false consciousness. People believe they know what’s going on, but they really don’t, and so people do things to support the system – the very system that oppresses them – without having that intention in mind. This is a theory linked to other Marxist theories about the value of social relatinoships, alienation of labour, class struggles, dominant ideology and cultural hegemony (another favourite of mine, the theory that one class can rule a diverse society). Feminists have latched onto this theory and attempted an unsure union between Marxism and feminism that didn’t really seem to completely come together. In jumped radical feminism, for whom false consciousness is not simply about labour-power and commodification of labour. It is about the traditional category of “woman” constructed by society to control and subjugate individuals by prescribing and proscribing behaviours that reinforce the domination of the hegemonic patriarchy.

Now, I am officially coming out as a big-time fan of Marx. 🙂 I think he’s brilliant. I wish I had a tenth of the brilliance of this man. However, he’s been heavily criticized, and so especially has his theory of false consciousness, mainly on the point that it paints the general masses as gullible and unthinking and easily manipulated, removing individual agency and autonomy. Personally, I think this is a mistake on the part of Marx’s critics. I do not believe Marx’s theory to be incorrect just because it failed to be presecriptive. I think Marx’s true value comes through the descriptive nature of his work.

Now, I happen to think that Marx is right about false consciousness. I think that people are easily manipulated as a group – group-think, mob mentality, etc. from first-year psychology, all of this seems like points in favour of Marx. It seems like when people are in groups, and being addressed as a group – particularly a group that is not in a position of social power, they do lose segments of identity. Especially when individual members of groups are treated by the hegemonic ruling class as simply members of social group X rather than taking into account the complex and  multi-dimensional nature of identity. Yet, this is how it happens. Based on membership in a group, many people think they know everything of significance there is to know about a person. I think that’s part of why I’m a feminist – I don’t want my identity, as I know it (very complex!), to be lumped in under the heading “woman.” This struggle is, for me and many other women, a battle for self-determination and personal identity. And so, in my opinion, false consciousness is something that compromises these things. The argument shouldn’t be whether or not false consciousness exists, as critics hold. It should be about how to overcome this obstacle to greater personal empowerment and individual identity. False consciousness is something we are prone to as members of oppressed social groups, and it is something that needs to be paid special attention if we individuals are to break free from labels that hedge us in.

so, in terms of feminism, feminists have labelled pretty much everything to do with femininity and traditional feminine roles as behaviours subject to false consciousness. I agree. Where I think radical feminists have gone wrong, however, is by labelling EVERY woman who participates in these activities a femme-bot of patriarchy. Here’s the catch: behaviours that support patriarchy… well, they support patriarchy. I don’t think there’s any way of getting around that. If I think really hard about why it is I participate in a particular practice, and I decide that I happen to really enjoy doing that particular thing, then I have to accept that this thing I enjoy doing is marking me in a certain way. It is marking me, under our unequal society, as an unequal member of an oppressed group.

I am a woman. It is not my fault I was born with specific physical characteristics to which society attaches the label “woman”. I do not like being associated with negative things just because I have been assigned the name “woman”. Yet, I am what I am, I am embodied in the way I am embodied, and I do not have any reason to change the way I am embodied. I am comfortable with my embodiment. I may not like the way my embodiment marks me to others, but that is not sufficient reason for me to surgically alter my embodiment.

As women, I think it is important to recognize the ways our behaviours support patriarchy. It is important so that we can decide what to do about that. Once again – till I’m blue in the face! – feminism is not about making women into men. Feminism is about taking away the negative associations with being female. I think there are some behaviours that should be abandoned, like female genital cutting for instance. But primarily, feminism isn’t a struggle against a set of behavioural dictates handed out by patriarchy. I would hope that feminism is more than that. I would hope that feminism is about breaking down ideologies that divide people into distinctive groups and oppress them.

Do I believe that some women are under the spell of false consciousness? Hell yes. Do I believe all women are? No I don’t. Do I believe all women who participate in traditional feminine patriarchy-supporting behaviours are experiencing false consciousness? Again, NO! Are they nevertheless supporting patriarchy? Yes, they are…  Is it better to not do anything that supports patriarchy? Not necessarily… and I’d like to see you try. Make money? you support patriarchy. Own a house? you support patriarchy. Own a car? yep, again, supporting patriarchy. Do you put down other women for their more blatant participation in patriarchy-supporting behaviour? guess what – you support patriarchy.

Under an equal society, I would be free to wear whatever I wanted to wear, because there would be nothing negative attached to the wearing of lipstick of high heels or pencil skirts or corsets. I would be free to have children or not without any snide remarks about my womanhood. I would be free to do whatever I wanted to do without negative attachments placed on me for either being too feminine or not feminine enough. That is what my feminism is about.

have at it!

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