"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Gandhi

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Like a Girl

Do you pay attention to the words you use?  Are you aware of their meaning, their origin, or their impact?  The language we use says a lot about our culture and society, and plays a huge role in how we communicate and what messages we receive. 

Years ago, in my counsellors’ office, I saw a poster about violence against women on the back of her door.  It was very enlightening, and not only did it make me think, it made me change the language I use.
How often have you called a man’s tank top a “wife-beater”?  Or told a guy he “throws like a girl”?  How often do you say someone “screams like a girl”?  How many times have we heard coaches or leaders call a group of men “ladies” as though it were an insult?
It may not seem important or significant, but the language we use sends a message.  What message do you think young girls get when regular everyday language insists on devaluing them?  What message do we send when we insult guys, by saying they are like girls?  Not only do we teach girls that it is bad or wrong to be “like girls”, but we teach boys that girls are not as good, or valued or skilled as they are.  The very language we use insults females; it “playfully jokes” that we are inferior.  Why is being “like a girl” an insult?

The term “wife-beater” has bothered me for some time now as well.  Is beating a spouse so acceptable, so common-place, that we can crack jokes about it?  Is beating a spouse so normal that we casually use the term to describe clothing?  Wife-Beater.  “Wife-Beater” is not a tank top; a “wife-beater” is a man who uses violence to control and demean his wife.  “Wife-beater” is a man who slaps, punches, kicks his wife…a man who pulls her hair, throws things at her, rapes her.  The actions of a “wife-beater” are horrific…and very real.  “Wife-beater” is not an article of clothing.  Before you use that term again, think of where it came from, what it means and implies.  
Now, I am often accused of being overly sensitive or militant…but I just dismiss those accusations.  What if I am not being “overly sensitive”, but I am just more aware and conscious of what I say and what I mean?  What if I want my words to represent myself and what I believe in?  I believe that words hold power, and I believe those words should not be used to take another persons’ power.  I believe there is always meaning behind words, and I think it is important to say what we mean, and mean what we say. 
We need to start paying attention to the messages we send with our choice of words, and accept responsibility for the impact of those words.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

It's Always "Unbelievable"

I saw this story on the news last night, and I find it so interesting because I see the same pattern over and over, and I wonder if anyone else sees it.  Good, upstanding member of the community.  Friendly, helpful and respectable...very good with kids.  Very close with neighbours and community.  Accused or arrested for sexual abuse / assault / molestation.  Complete disbelief from the community...he was so kind, so helpful...they just don’t believe he would ever do anything like this.  They vouch for him, and stand behind him...because he could never have done this.

I hate to be bearer of bad news here...but this is the story that pedophiles and child molesters count on.  I have read many books on the subject and spoken with experts, I’ve read article and studies.  And it’s the same thing over and over.  These offenders are master manipulators.  They not only groom the children to be abused, they groom the family and community into disbelief.  If someone’s willingness to help with kids, or single-mothers seems too good to be true, look into it a little more.  If any kids don’t like him, or don’t want to be around him...even though you love him...look into it a little more.

The most difficult thing to understand and accept is that every single child molester and pedophile is someone’s son...someone’s brother, or husband, someone’s loved one.  They don’t walk around with a black hat and creepy moustache asking kids if they want candy.  85% of molesters are known by the victim and are often loved ones or respected community members.  We need to keep in mind that just because we know someone, that doesn’t mean we know someone.  I am not suggesting that everyone is a suspect, simply that when you have cause to be suspicious...BE SUSPICIOUS.   Every pedophile and child molester leads a double life, and if a child comes forward, or evidence is found...those two lives have collided, and the offender depends on the support of the community that he has so faithfully groomed, and deceived.

Is it hard to believe when your husband, or the local minister, or the hockey coach is accused of something so horrific?  Of course!  That is not the person you know...the person you know is kind and gentle and always willing to lend a helping hand!  This is the very essence of the Double Life.  The offender isn’t going to show you the side of themselves they don’t want you to see, and will lie to perfection if caught.  Years ago in Canada, a man was accused of raping his 5 year old daughter.  He said it was once instance where he rolled over in bed and began having sex with who he thought was his wife.  But it was his 5 year old daughter.  He cried in court, ashamed of his mistake...begging for forgiveness and declaring he would never abuse his daughter.  He had character witnesses for his defence.  Years after the court dismissed the accusations...they learned he had been molesting his daughter for years.  Whoops.  You mean he lied?!  I’m shocked. 

You can decide for yourself if the offender is sincere with their remorse, or if it’s more manipulation.  But one thing is perfectly clear to me in all my reading and work around this issue.  An offender will not stop offending unless they are stopped.  Does this mean throwing them all in jail?  Does it mean mandatory psychotherapy?  If you simply tell them to stop, and don’t put measures in place to make them stop...absolutely nothing will change. 

Listen to the children.  Don’t dismiss their words or accusations, just because you know or love the accused.  After all, it usually is someone you know and love.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Not For Sale!

This is not something that is often discussed.  As a society, we tend to prefer the dark and dirty things to remain a secret; to remain someone else’s problem.  But, whether or not we acknowledge it, these things are our problem.  These “dark and dirty” things are a part of our world, whether or not you even know it.

I am talking about prostitution.  If you think it’s limited to the mean streets of downtown, or some out-of-the-way “red-light” district...you are sorely wrong.  Prostitution is the “massage parlour” nestled into the strip-mall, down the street from you.  It’s the brothel that runs out of the apartment two floors above you.  It’s on Craigslist, on Toronto tourism websites, in magazines and local newspapers.  It literally is everywhere.  Just because someone doesn’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

It is apparently a common perception among men that these women love their “job”.  But that’s the fantasy right?  Believing that these women desire them, and want to please them.  Fantasy is not reality.  I stand very firm in my belief that no healthy, well-adjusted woman would ever enter the sex industry on any level. 

Take away the girls who ran away from home and started “turning tricks” for cash, take away the girls who were found by pimps and now belong to them, take away the “street-walkers” who are so addicted to something they will offer themselves cheaply.  Take away the severely misguided youth who think a “rub and tug” is a quick way to earn cash because they don’t believe they can do anything else.  Then, take away those girls and young women who are brought here on boats and sold to pimps here in Toronto, or there in Calgary, or over there in Vancouver.  Take them away, and then show me who’s left...those healthy, well-adjusted women who love being a prostitute.  Go ahead.

We all think this kind of stuff is safely hidden away from us.  We tend to think we aren’t – or can’t be – impacted by prostitution.  20% of Canadian men, have admitted to paying for sex.  Out of that 20%, how many do you think had other sexual partners?  Or a spouse?  If you think you are in a faithful, committed relationship...do you use a condom?  A friend of mine who has been married for 30 years, contracted a sexually transmitted disease from her husband...who had been going to prostitutes for years – unbeknownst to her, obviously. 
There are so many reasons this issue should be dealt with, instead of being swept aside.   I hate that such acceptance of prostitution is so wide-spread, and that it is teaching our youth – both male and female, that a woman’s body can be rented by the hour.  Years ago, when I worked in downtown Toronto, I was driving home one day and pulled my car up to a red light.  I had my windows down and was minding my own business.  A man walked right up to my car, looked in my window, then asked me “how much?”  This is the mentality that needs to end.  How much?  As though every woman has her price? 

I should have run him down with my car...I’m not for sale.


Friday, 12 August 2011


I still sometimes struggle with being honest and authentic in who I am.  Being true to who we are is a process and a life-long adventure...one I am learning and trying to embrace. 

I had read this poem a few years ago, and I LOVED it!  What do you think?


When I stand up for myself and my beliefs, they call me a BITCH.
When I stand up for those I love, they call me a BITCH.
When I speak my mind,
think my own thoughts or do things my own way,
they call me a BITCH.

Being a BITCH means I won't compromise what's in my heart. It means I live my life MY way. It means I won't allow anyone to step on me. When I refuse to tolerate injustice and speak against it, I am defined as a BITCH. The same thing happens when I take time for myself instead of being everyone's maid, or when I act a little selfish.

It means I have the courage and strength to allow myself to be who I truly am and won't become anyone else's idea of what they think I "should" be. I am outspoken, opinionated and determined.

I want what I want and there is nothing wrong with that! So try to stomp on me, try to douse my inner flame, try to squash every ounce of beauty I hold within me. You won't succeed. And if that makes me a BITCH, so be it. I embrace the title and am proud to bear it.
-Dark Angel

Sunday, 7 August 2011

No Honour Here

What do you think about the term and idea “Honour Killings”?  I – for one – think it is all a load of crap.  It is sick and abusive men who have created a Rule where if the women don’t “tow the line” and obey, they are killed.  This is organized and systemic violence against women, where the offenders claim it’s their “right”. 

Just because someone’s ego is bruised, that does not give them the “right” to oppress, abuse and slaughter another.  But, let’s face it...if this was strictly about “honour”, then it wouldn’t be only woman who are killed.  A brother or son who commits the same “offense” against the family’s honour is not murdered...nope, just the sister or daughter.  Just the woman.

And, I am sorry...but if you kill a woman simply because she caused you “shame”...grow the F up.  Who hasn’t had a family member or loved-one cause embarrassment or “shame”??!  That’s a part of life!!  You deal with it, you don’t murder people; which, is why I think the concept of “honour killings” is a farce.  “Honour killing” is a polite term used to explain or excuse violence against women. 

People who commit these “honour killings” are just pissed off that the woman was no longer under their thumb.  She did something, anything, that went against what they told her she should be doing – and so, because they can no longer oppress her and control her...they kill her.  Hmmm...kind of sounds a lot like the situations endured by the 67 Canadian women who were killed by their partners in 2009.  It’s an excuse; Nothing more. 

This is not some “cultural norm” that needs to be respected.  This is simply cruel, abusive men who will use any label they can, to justify their contribution to Femicide.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

What Gives Us The "Right"?

DISCLAIMER - may contain upsetting information.

I am currently embroiled in a debate on Facebook about NAMBLA’s right to exist.  Now, most people have never heard of NAMBLA... North American Man Boy Love Association.  That’s right.  A full-on organized group of pedophile males who advocate, condone and encourage the sexual abuse and rape of children.

Everything they post, publish and print is worded just this side of the legal border.  They post no photos or anything else that is specified in the criminal code...however, years ago they had quoted on their website that “a grown man’s erect penis can comfortably fit into a four year old child’s anus”.  This is what this group stands for, believes in and attempts to justify.

Now, the other side is saying that this group has the “right” to free speech and the “right” to freedom of assembly.  They say that under the Bill of Rights, this group should be protected. 

I believe that our “rights” are our “rights” unless we abuse them.   Does this group have the “right” to advocate for this horrific crime?  No.  In what Universe should a group of organized pedophiles be allowed to spread the gospel of rape?!  The world is not what it was when the Bill of Rights was created, and groups like NAMBLA hide behind these “rights”. 

Years ago a friend and I were discussing NAMBLA.  She was very active in gay rights and in the gay community.  She said part of the problem with NAMBLA is that they are targeting young gay boys who are still unsure or confused.  They claim to offer support and guidance, but that child is used until he passes the pedophile’s “age-of-arousal”.  And this is why pedophilia cannot be classified as a sexual orientation.  Heterosexual or homosexual, people’s attraction to others usually ages, as they age.  For example...go through your old high-school year books.  Find the photos of those boys or girls, you once thought were oh-so-gorgeous, and ask yourself what you think of them now.  I myself, was stunned at how young they all looked!  To me now...they look like babies, because, I aged and my age-of-arousal is no longer 14 year old boys.  But, for pedophiles...it’s only the age they are attracted to.  They could claim to love a boy, but guaranteed...once that boy hits puberty, that “love” is gone. 

 If it comes down to a Battle of Rights...I will always, and forever, believe a child’s right not to be abused, outweighs a pedophiles right to free speech.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

So, a few days ago I saw the movie Valentine's Day.  I wasn't impressed, but I thought it was OK. 
Although, that one particular scene...with Shirley MacLaine running around the drive-in...really got my attention.  Her speech to her husband was that if he loves her, he must love all of her...including the bad parts.  Ahhh...fictional romance on the big screen.  Love Conquers All! 

I call Bull-Shit.   That is such a romantisized description of complacency.  Love is only "real love" if you love the bad parts too?  Hmmm...what if those bad parts consist of your wife always drinking and driving; or your husband flashing the neighbours kids?  Is "partner love" unconditional?  Well, I personally think the answer is both yes, and no. 

Sadly, loving someone is not contingent on them treating you well.  If this were the case, there would be a lot less people in abusive relationships, and a lot of children would walk away from their parents.  You don't stop loving someone just because they hurt you...but you do need to evaluate their behaviour and how it fits into your life.

Loving someone shouldn't require you to sacrifice yourself or your beliefs.  It shouldn't require you to take the really bad, with the good.

I think movies like The Way We Were are more honest, realistic and healthy.  Because while each character greatly loved the other, their beliefs and values were too different, and they chose to part ways.  How many of us are that honest with ourselves? 

I have nothing against love ;) I just think we need to ask ourselves, that if loving someone means having to sacrifice who you are, is it worth it?