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Archive for January, 2007

Oscar noms 2006

They’re here!

The Oscar nominations are out, and boy, is this gonna be good!

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a HUGE fan of movies, and an even HUGER fan of the Oscars. I love everything to do with movies. Movies are one of the delights of my life. Seriously. I love them. And the Oscars – well, it’s like my birthday, that’s how much I love them.

So, here’s the link to the official list. I’ll be posting more soon about my picks. But first, I’ve got a lot of movie watching to do!

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blog for choice day 2007

Today is Blog for Choice Day. The purpose of this movement is to protest the removal of abortion services from hospitals and medical clinics, and to reaffirm women’s right to access an abortion should she so choose. Bloggers are asked to write a post telling readers why they are pro-choice.

So, why am I pro-choice?

First, let’s get some terms straight. “Pro-choice” does not mean “pro-abortion”; it means supporting women’s rights to self-determination over their bodies. “Fetuses” are not “babies”; fetuses exist in the womb, babies exist outside of the womb. “Human” does not equal “person”; human is the biological name of our species, personhood involves moral agency. There; now let’s move on.

I believe that women’s reproductive freedom is an essential piece of the puzzle for women’s full and uninhibited autonomy. In our society, women’s value comes from their usefulness within a male-dominated system, created by men, for men’s benefit. The ultimate value of women lies in their ability to produce a healthy baby, to continue the male bloodline. In this regard, women are increasingly treated as vessels through the medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth. I’ve written about this before, here and here. In order for women to gain true equality and equity in society, we must be valued intrinsically, and not in terms of how we can be of use to men – or to our children. Part of this involves the freedom to determine if and when we choose to have children.

There is a deep connection between issues of reproductive freedom and issues of sexual freedom. I wrote about that here. Women’s sexuality has been and continues to be defined in terms of its relation to male sexuality and male sexual pleasure. This andro- and phallocentrism has caused a great deal of harm to women by denying us the recognition of full sexual expression in hetero sexual relationships, of oppressing lesbian women on the basis of their rejection of male-centred sexuality, and by assuming the importance of male sexual pleasure and dominion over women’s bodies, which leads to all sorts of physical and sexual abuses. It is this attitude towards women’s bodies as sexual objects for male possession that has prevented women’s autonomy as sexual beings and in terms of reproduction.

There is a lot of debate around the issue of abortion involving the question of when life begins. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – it doesn’t matter when life begins. Personally, I take the view that life begins at conception. The point isn’t about when life begins, it’s about when rights attach. This is the difference between “human” and “person”, as I outlined earlier – and make no mistake, this is the most important distinction as we can make on this issue. For me, the most important right to protect is that of the woman. This is her body we’re talking about. Fetuses are completely dependent on women’s bodies for nourishment, development, and survival. They offer nothing in return, biologically speaking. That means that this is a one-sided benefit, to the fetus – not a symbiotic relatinoship whereby both parties benefit by the presence of the other. As much as people hate it when I say this, it’s true: fetuses are parasites. They depend on the continued goodwill of the host, the pregnant woman. Actually, considering the defenselessness of newborn babies, some philosophers consider them to also be parasites, but this is where I draw the line.

Do living things deserve moral consideration? Yes, of course I believe this to be true. Obviously, I think so – I am a vegetarian. I believe all sentient beings (beings that can sense pain and pleasure) are deserving of moral consideration. However, what makes no sense to me is the special privilege we afford humans over other living beings. Why should we give more rights of moral consideration to human fetuses than we do to fully formed, born, non-parasitic animals like cows and pigs, whom we as a society kill readily and unnecessarily for our food supply? And certainly, it makes no sense to give more moral consideration to fetuses than we do to the fully formed, born, non-parasitic, rational moral agents with full rights and freedoms (at least theoretically, entrenched in human rights legislation around the world) that are pregnant women. Unless, of course, your goal is to control and subvert women.

My official position is that abortion must be legal at all stages of pregnancy, in order to protect women fully. Otherwise, we could have a situation where the woman’s life is endangered by continuing the pregnancy, and she has no legal right to self-defense. I fully support a woman’s right to choose an abortion at any stage of her pregnancy. Women must have the right to decide at any point to discontinue hosting a fetus, and the manner in which she continues to host a fetus. I am opposed to any legislation that aims to protect fetal health over the woman’s right to determine how she uses her body. It’s her body – she should have the ultimate choice over how to treat her own body at all stages of her life. If we own anything in this world fully and completely, it’s our bodies. We must have the right to do with our bodies what we choose. However, I will say that all evidence that I have examined shows that sentience begins in a human fetus between 17-20 weeks. At this point, I believe some moral consideration should be given to a developing fetus, since that fetus can feel pain. Note closely: I said moral consideration. I did not say women shouldn’t be allowed to abort after this time. I did not say that the fetus’ rights outweigh the woman’s at this point. I said moral consideration. If the woman still decides after the point of sentience to abort, I fully support her right to do so.

This is what the debate boils down to for me: to not support women’s right to choose whether to carry a fetus to term do not support women’s equality. It is illogical to declare a human fetus more worthy of moral consideration than the fully formed moral agent carrying that fetus. Doing so reduces women to our reproductive function, and makes us into vessels whose true value comes about through becoming useful vessels rather than empty ones. And this certainly does not create an environment of equality.

So, I hope that today, some of you will also Blog for Choice. At least, I hope some of what you read will help you consider supporting women’s rights to reproductive freedom.

Edit: Please take the time to read the following posts (I’ll be adding to this list throughout the day as I find more and more great posts on this topic): Sarah’s Blog for Choice 2006 at the Razzberry, Jill’s Why I’m Pro-Choice, Anti-Choicers Bring the Crazy. And the Misogyny. And the Racism, and Embryonic Personhood at Feministe, Amanda’s Blogging for Choice and Beyond Choice at Pandagon, Shark-Fu’s Blog for Choice – Pro-choice for Life at Angry Black Bitch, BrownFemiPower’s “Choice” Challenged, and Who Gets to Be a Legitimate Mother at Women of Color Blog and Sage’s Funeral for an Abortion at Persephone’s Box. For those of you who might think that abortion is an easy, convenient choice, or that anyone other than the pregnant woman herself is a better candidate to make decisions that affect the entire course of the rest of her life.

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Zuzu’s tag

…via Sage.

The assignment:

tell us at least 5 things you love about yourself – your body or your personality. Don’t be shy! And no self-deprecation.

1. I, like Sage, have perfect teeth. Straight, white, and no fillings. And I didn’t go to a dentist until I was old enough to pay for it myself, so there. Also, I have a great smile.

2. I’m funny. I am seriously sarcastic, and my sense of humour is kind of off-beat sometimes, but I am a fairly entertaining person. And I’m the first to laugh at myself.

3. I have great hair. It grows really long, and it’s got a great natural wave, but it’s easy to straighten if I want, and it’s always healthy and silky no matter how much I torture it. It’s starting to go white a little bit here and there, but for now, I colour it. Maybe I’ll give up that vanity one day, but not while I go to school with people 10 years younger than me!

4. I have really nice skin. It helps that I know exactly how to look after it, and how to enhance it with makeup, but it’s really nice. Porcelain. One of my friends used to call me Snow White, another calls me the China Doll. And the other day, someone said they thought I looked about 23. (by the way, the secret is SPF. Everyday. And a good cleanser, AHA, and topical Vitamin C.)

5. I’m smart. I can learn just about anything. There wasn’t a subject in school that I couldn’t do, and do well. And it was easy. Still is, mostly. Also, I have a lot of knowledge – just general, trivial sorts of stuff. I think I have a photographic memory, or something. I just remember things easily, when I’m interested. And I have a lot of interests.

6. I’m pretty fair. I do my best to treat people well, with kindness, no matter who they are. And I gave up judging people a long time ago. What a burden that was!

7. I love hard. I’m loyal, and a true friend. Those who have my love have it for life, no matter what circumstances might keep us together or apart. I’m very forgiving, and generous. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my dearest lovers and friends. This just might be my tragic flaw.

8. I have an excellent aesthetic eye. I can see how colours go together, how space would best be filled, what sort of textures go nicely together. I’ve got an eye for form, lines, and structure. If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing, I could easily be an interior decorator or designer.

9. I have pretty eyes. Kind of green, with golden flecks around the pupil. Almond shaped, big and bright, crinkly when I laugh, very expressive, long eyelashes, great eyebrows. And perfect vision.

I put off doing this exercise for a while. I just wasn’t sure about it, I thought I might not want to think about this too hard. Being modest is held as a virtue, especially for women, and it’s something I think I’ve internalized a bit. It does feel like you’re bragging, or being conceited, which is something a lot of other people have said in answering this tag. But in reading other people’s answers, I came to realize that these are the things we should celebrate. And for others to recognize how great we are, maybe it’s a good idea to recognize it in ourselves!

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just a reminder…

Blog for Choice Day is tomorrow.

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Sage just came up with an AWESOME tag, inspired by the discussion on my post, Killing Prostitutes. I encourage ALL of you to take this chance to participate in the political process and demand your political representatives listen to our voices on this important issue. If you never do another tag, please – do this one.

Here’s the steps:
1. Copy the following into a word file.
2. Fill in the blanks and edit as desired or completely re-write (a one page limit is best). A little research on your own area makes it even better.
3. Print
4. Get a few signatures or just sign it yourself.
5. Mail it. No stamps are necessary to the really big guns. Snail mail counts more than e-mail, so the extra walk to the box is worth it.
6. Tag five people (on-line or otherwise).
7. Repeat as necessary.

*****

Address here. Options might include your Mayor, MP, MPP, Prime Minister, other party leaders, Governor, President, what-have-you, and most important, your local newspaper. Even if the issue isn’t part of the addressee’s portfolio, a surge of letters will still have a necessary impact.

Dear / To the Honourable….

In light of the devastating slayings of 26 women in Vancouver, another 20 in Edmonton, and 5 in Ipswich, England, (and any others you can think of in your area) your government must do more to protect women. If one woman is in danger, none of us are safe.

It’s unlikely that legalizing prostitution would be favourable to the voting public at this point in time, but there are several other useful alternatives that will guarantee you laurels from many fronts.

Let’s stop making perpetrators. All the men who commit these types of heinous crimes are found to have been raised in abusive homes. What is necessary as a solid foundation of any society is easy access to help of any kind for all parents of young children. No child should be living in poverty in a country as wealthy as _________. Any parent or child being abused should have easy access to a safe house they can live in for as long as needed. Teens abused need safe places to stay and be nurtured for extended periods.

In _________(city), there is / isn’t a safe house for abused women, but it only holds ______ women and children, and they can only stay ___________before they have to find someplace else to go. The theory is that they need to learn to fend for themselves. The reality is, if they’re there in there in the first place, they likely don’t have other supports. Imagine having no access to your husband’s bank account, no money of your own, small kids, and the only place available for you to live is run by an abusive tyrant. You’re stuck.

This should not be anybody’s fate in a compassionate country where it could be so easy to solve this problem by placing a priority on funding for safe house space, trained counsellors (emotional, career, and financial), affordable housing, and daycare spaces.

And to stop perpetrators in their tracks, we need stronger legislation around sexual abuse and violence against women, domestic and otherwise. If a rapist gets two years, it sends a message to all men that women and children are not valued by our country’s legal system. Don’t you believe women and children deserve a life free from abuse?

We’ll look forward to hearing your proposal to address this emergency before the next election.

Sincerely,

*****

Please folks, do this tag. Let’s get our voices heard on this. I tag everyone who reads this post. Short of that, I tag Marc Andre, Aulelia, Max, Lulu, L>T, Renegade, Geo, Pinko Julie, Ruxandra, Winter, Belledame, Pragya, Marcella, Laverne, Daniela, and Aspazia. I know, I’m being really demanding this time – but dammit, this is important! If we don’t tell our politicians what we want them to do, they will do what THEY want to do – and that hasn’t exactly turned out so hot. So flex those democratic muscles and get going!

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Children of Men

I went to see this movie last night. It was great. GREAT!

**********If you want to see it, there’ are many spoilers in what I’m writing below, so I’d stop now if I were you. Go and see it for yourself, then come back and talk to me about it.***********

I’m sure most of you know the story: it’s 2027, and humans have stopped reproducing. (Actually, women have stopped reproducing.) Nobody knows why. The world’s youngest person, a sort of celebrity because of this status, has just been killed, at age 18. The world is in mourning – loss of the youngest person seems to be equated with a loss of innocence, of hope.

Clive Owen (*sigh*) plays Theo, a sort of anti-hero. He’s steady, cynical, complex, stand-up. He’s been solicited to help his ex, Julianne Moore (fabulous as always, the most underrated actress in Hollywood to all of our detriment), in getting a young woman out of highly militarized, bombed-out, overflowing-with-refugees London. The kicker – the young woman is pregnant.

Oh the implications of this movie, the political discussions and issues it tackles! The imagery, the devastating landscape that is London!

First, this young woman, Kee, is a refugee. There are no more immigrants into UK – only refugees, and they are locked up in cages like animals, sent to camps where violence and chaos reign uninhibited. So the first baby to be born in 18 years is a refugee.  A black refugee. And what’s more, she has kept her pregnancy a secret – which means she has successfully reproduced without medical assistance or supervision. Is this a statement about women’s reproduction and how perhaps medicalization of reproduction and fertility is the wrong way to go?

Second, Kee’s baby seems to mean different things to the people who are helping her. For some, it is power – power to start a new discourse about refugees. For some, it offers hope of a brighter future without so much violence and hate, a renewal of innocence and peace that must be protected, a clean slate, redemption. For some, it seems to represent the fragility of life. For others, the resiliency of the human spirit. For her, it is her baby, and she loves it. Is this a commentary on the public/private meaning of women’s pregnant bodies? To whom do such bodies, and the children who are the products of such bodies, belong? What do children represent to society? Whose are they? What do we expect of them? What do they want? Are we all stewards of children – “it takes a village”? Should we be?

Third, the goal is to get Kee to the Human Project – a kind of mythical group who is trying to find out why humans are not reproducing anymore. Nobody is sure if they really exist. But the faith of those taking Kee to them is very strong. Kee and her baby are a kind of sacrifice to them, an offering. What will happen to them both once they are there is unknown, and unclear – left unaddressed by the film. But many seem to think she will be safe there, protected. Whether this will be true is left to our imagination. It crossed my mind that she would be the subject of much prodding and poking and testing, but also that left to her own devices in society, she might become victim to rape, since she is seemingly the only fertile woman on the planet capable of carrying a fetus to term. Who knows, she might have started up a surrogacy business and become very rich! In any case, all of this feeds into imagery of woman as the mother of the nation, imagery that is entirely problematic. Would Kee’s baby be a sign of national unity, and for whom since she is not a British citizen? Would the urge to protect the delicate life of Kee’s baby mean more war, more violence? Would Kee’s baby put an end to war, or create more nationalistic tension?

Kee’s baby is born in a refugee camp, amidst a great deal of violence – and without medical assistance. There is a scene that is just as moving as any scene in any movie, I think, that follows. Kee and baby and Theo are in a building that is under heavy gunfire and bomb attack. They are trying to escape to the Human Project. The baby starts to cry, and everyone gathers around as they descend a staircase – they want to see the miracle, the first baby born in almost 20 years, touch its little feet and hands. They’ve forgotten what a baby is. The soldiers call for a cease-fire as the trio leaves to walk out the front door. Everyone seems to be filled with hope at seeing this beautiful child, hearing its cries. Just as they leave the building, the warfare begins again. Who only knows what they’re fighting for. I think a vision like that, seeing a whole brand new person for the first time in 20 years, would make me put down my weapons. but that’s just me, the pacifist.

Incidentally, the miracle baby, the first baby in 20 years, was a girl.

So why Children of MEN? Why make it women who are infertile?

Is the overall message that we – women in particular – have to continue having babies or the world is going to hell in a handbasket? That the only hope we have rests with our children?

Anyway, such a stimulating movie, really. I welcome any discussion about it.

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… is up at Girlistic!

It’s great this time – a medley of miscellany. My post, the Personal IS Political, made it in.

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