Mom came Wednesday and it has completely changed my outlook on things. My mom is awesome. While I was in grad school she would come and help with the kids (who were babies at the time) by doing laundry, cleaning, making meals and just taking the edge off all those things that one needs to do to maintain a household.
She's doing the same thing right now, including picking the kids up at school so they can spend some time together and it just makes things so much easier.
I'm still tired, but can sleep in tomorrow for a bit before we go to the (last) soccer tournament for Emma. Being free of soccer-mom duties will also take a huge load off. (I have some things to say about boys and girls and sport but will save that for another post).
One thing all this has (again) reinforced for me is how modern work and households are still based on the assumption of a person (read: WOMAN) in the home to make it all go. Families who feel like "work/life balance" is out of whack likely feel this way because it is very difficult to work full time and maintain a household. I'm not talking about being Martha with a fully decorated house and wonderfully tasty nutritious meals here; I'm talking about making sure everyone is fed something, and your house isn't growing toxic mould as the level of upkeep here. Just getting it all done is difficult and I think politicians and workplaces don't completely understand that in their policymaking and arrangement of work.
I'm extremely fortunate to work in a place which is flexible and understands that I have other commitments and am not on this earth to work solely for them. Craig's previous employer was in that category and it really puts a strain on things. I also chose this particular career route over academic life because I wanted to have things weighted more in the LIFE category over the WORK category. I also made choices about where I live (to keep commuting times down) and how much we do for extra activities too. But I have the luxury of making those choices and I know many others have inflexible employers, different living situations and may also be parenting on their own which completely changes the situation.
How can we make it change? Since Canada is the midst of an election campaign and there is much talk of how to help families I think this is an important conversation to have. I don't believe cutting taxes for families is really the answer. Sure I can use that money to buy the services of a cleaner (which I plan on doing soon) or eat out more, but again that's because I already have access to good childcare and a good job and commute. What I think would really help Canadians are investments into SERVICES. We are a very prosperous country. We have been running multi-billion dollar budget surpluses for several years now and have been paying down the national debt. I'm tired of being told we don't have the money because that is complete crap.
I want to see investments into public transit to help commuters get to their jobs and homes more quickly. This will even help drivers because less cars on the road helps everyone, not just in commuting but for the environment. I want more bike lanes and alternative transportation options too. This is important in Toronto, but also quickly growing cities like Calgary and Halifax. Canada is experiencing increasing urbanization and we need large investments into city infrastructure NOW.
I want a national childcare program and a national homecare/eldercare program. Women are primarily responsible for the care of children and the elderly and are facing continuous stress juggling these with paid employment. If we are to have true equality for women this has to happen. And it has to happen for all women; not just those who are able to pay for services. I know not everyone wants these things and like all public services you can choose to participate, but children who are cared for in nurturing environments and older and ill adults who have contributed to this country their whole lives and may need assistance deserve and require these services. I hear stories every day of people waiting for childcare or trying to help elderly relatives and just wanting someone with power to care and provide some help.
If you read this blog you probably know that I'm a New Democrat and am solidly on the "left" with my politics.. I will be voting NDP again this election. While I don't completely support their platform, they best represent my values and priorities the best and are the only party that I really believe speaks for women and a diverse population in this country.
With the US election we have heard much about women and "minorities" in politics (I don't like that term, but like the de rigeur "racialized peoples" less), but that discourse is also about those women and people of colour who have a great deal of power and money. While I believe those conversations are important (and have led to some great humour and satire) I prefer the debates to be less about the sex and colour of the leaders and more about the issues facing these respective communities; you know, the stuff that takes leadership and change.
I have some cool friends. Doing some great works of activism in their communities. I confess that I feel like my own path as an activist (something I was very into in my middle-twenties) has really stopped and while I write a lot about politics and social issues, I don't feel like I do much but contribute money and promote the works of others.
But since changing what I do takes both time and the energy to do it (something I'm not feeling I have right now), I will continue to promote the good works of my friends and colleagues so at least I'm doing something.
Elaine Power is a woman I met after I boldly sent her an email after hearing her speak about food security issues on the CBC. She was on a teaching contract at U of T the same time I was a grad student and she introduced me to some other fabulous students and researchers who were interested in public health issues and it really helped me overcome the isolation I felt as a new mother working on a PhD. Beer and Theory became one of the highlights of my week and I could not have finished without all their support and enthusiasm.
Elaine is now an Assistant Professor in Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University and is the midst of producing a documentary about "Life on the Cheque" about six mothers living in poverty in Kingston Ontario. I think film can be a powerful medium to comment and critique issues of the day and as someone who loves film I'm very excited to see Elaine mixing her academic work and community activism using this medium.
There are some really neat things happening on the site where Elaine showcases the film-in-production. Have a look. Provide support. Spread the word.
TO: Paula Fletcher
RE: TEYCC 16.26 Bloor Transformation Project
As a resident in your ward who bikes from Jones ave across Bloor/Danforth to my job at the University of Toronto, I've been watching the changes planned for the Bloor St. redevelopment between Yonge and University. The plan to NOT include bike lanes (and from the drawings, even ring posts) is deplorable. Traffic conditions along that stretch are very perilous for cyclists and I feel the City is missing out on a perfect opportunity to encourage active/green transportation by facilitating both pedestrian and bicycle traffic along Bloor St. Just as buildings implement changes to encourage accessibility for people with disabilities, the City must endeavour to encourage bicycle traffic on our streets; bike lanes are integral to this strategy and their omission on the Bloor St redevelopment merely cements the primacy of the automobile for transportation.
I urge you to INSIST that a bike lane on Bloor be part of any redevelopment. It was first proposed in 1992; 16 years is too long a wait.
Hope you had a good Earth Hour.
After I put the kids to bed I had a bath by candlelight. It was rather pleasant.
There is a private member's bill on the Federal docket that's making me and a lot of other people nervous.
The Unborn Victims of Crime bill would amend the criminal code so that separate charges can be laid if a fetus is injured or dies as the result of harm against a pregnant woman.
(As an aside, when I put in the link to the bill http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=3127600&file=4. that I pulled from a pro-choice site, it goes to an anti-choice site that I won't link t0 called LifeSite news through some sort of internet trickery--ick. I wrote to the Abortion Rights Coalition to let them know).
Apparently the bill was drafted in response to demands from the families of pregnant women who were killed in acts of domestic violence, which often starts or escalates during pregnancy. However, instead of enforcing laws that already exist and actually doing something to prevent domestic violence, Conservative MP Ken Epp comes up with this bill which looks a whole lot like a thinly veiled anti-abortion law.
(Just so you know the abortion law was struck down 20 years ago so it's essentially legal, though access is not uniform/unproblematic across the country).
There is a good critique of the bill here and I urge you to read it. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada also has a sample letter opposing the bill that you can send to your MP. Private member's bills seldom pass, but the anti-woman stance of this government (even in a minority parliament position) makes me less optimistic.
I would like to add that I am fed up with this exaltation of "breeders". That being pregnant adds some other saintly dimension to a woman's personhood that makes crimes against HER more heinous than crimes against women who are older, younger, infertile or not currently gestating.
Violence against women is WRONG regardless of the current state of a woman's uterus.
Rick Mercer's post today presented an interesting challenge:
You could take a hundred bucks, you could stand on a any street corner in Canada, offer people five bucks if they can name three cabinet ministers off the top of their head – double their money if they can name the minister of health. At the end of the day you'd still have enough money for dinner and a movie.
When I first saw it I thought, "I can do that!" I'm up on current events, I listen to CBC radio every morning and evening, I glance at the newspaper (my Post-doc work which involved reading 11 papers a day for 6 months killed any desire I have to read the paper). But guess what, I can't do it.
I'm rather ashamed really. Wait, I can do it... (It was really bothering me).
Tony Clement (Health, I think)
Stockwell Day (Security something or other or something like that)
Jim Flaherty (Finance Minister)
Weirdly, I have that guy, the one from Nova Scotia in my head. The one who dated Belinda Stronach...He's a cabinet minister, but for the life of me I can't think of his name. Sure it would make four and I'm being a keener, but it's bugging me.
Let me go Google and see if I'm right.
I'll be back...
(5 minutes later)
Okay I'm back. I went to this site (the first one that comes up when I google "parliament of Canada cabinet ministers"). It doesn't work. Did Rick Mercer break the server? Or is Stephen Harper up to something?
This one does work.
Peter McKay is the guy I couldn't remember and he's Minister of Defense.
Stockwell Day is Minister of Public Safety
I got Jim Flaherty right (all those years in Mike Harris'
fucked up Ontario make him hard to forget)
And woohoo for me, Tony Clement is the Minister of Health. (It's not good for Canada as a whole, but I'm feeling good about my political awareness).
So where's my 15 bucks?
I haven't been following the US election that closely, except to listen to the radio reports (CBC Radio One is a constant in my house--even my kids have their clock radios set to 99.1) and read up on how mysogyny runs wild in response to Hilary's campaign.
It's amazing how much a woman running for President makes sexism show. You can follow it all on Feministing if you're so inclined.
This one is on the fence for me, only because it makes me laugh and doesn't call Hilary a bitch.
Not sure if it's real, but it is pretty funny. Though the whole Monica thing was totally bizarre to me (and most other Canadians).
I was going to write about knitting today. I even took pictures, but then this showed up in my inbox (I read a number of Higher Ed publications) and it warranted a post.
It seems the Institute for Creation Research (who I will not acknowledge with a link) is attempting to get accreditation in Texas to grant degrees in creationism (which I will not acknowledge with capitalization).
This stuff scares the crap out of me. Isn't education supposed to be about learning to think critically and apply that knowledge to discover things about the world? Sure, that may be a bit pollyanna-ish but my feeling is that deciding a priori that there is a god and he (because it's a he) made the world in seven days and that he created humans in fully human form from the start goes against current scientific wisdom and is the complete opposite of critical thinking.
This blog lays out the problems with this kind of thinking here. It is the most succinct explanation I've come across and it really worries me that this sort of "vertical thinking" is taking hold, not just in America, but many places in the world.
Of course, my atheism is also showing, but I haven't seen anything good coming from organized religion historically or now. Having it become the theoretical foundation for a graduate degree (rather than something to study as theology or philosophy) will only make those tendencies worse.
Today is December 6. Today marks the day that 14 women were gunned down at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. I find it hard to believe it's been 18 years since it happened. What bothers me more is how little has changed for women.
Women are still beaten, raped and killed at alarming rates. Police, lawmakers, and regular people still see violence against women and particularly intimate partner violence as a private matter or something rare. We still don't put this violence into a political context which shows the inequal power relations between men and women. Or examine how this is especially true for women who are economically disadvantaged, sex workers, women in countries where they have low/no social status, or are very young.
And this isn't a problem that just happens in countries where women's rights are non-existent. The problem happens here. Brian Vallee, in his book The War on Women states that between 2000 and 2006 there were more women murdered by their intimate partners in Canada and the United States than there were soldiers who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We rarely hear about these cases, or the women who do not die, but live with violence every day.
People don't really get mad about that. It makes me sad.
That's probably why I'm ambivalent about December 6th memorials. There is a lot of remembering, but no enough anger or work for change.
Funny thing is, I think I write the same blog entry every year. Time to put it into a letter to my MP and a note to a local shelter with a donation. It's not much, but it's a start.