Friday Night Fun and Culture: Xmas Edition

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A Critique of Modern Gender Studies

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 19/12/11

Gender, rather lifelessly, has been defined by the FAO as “the relations between men and women, both perceptual and material. Gender is not determined biologically…but constructed socially”. The beginning of all studies into gender, then, must also be a study of social relations.

All social relations existing in a hierarchal (therefore Capitalist) society are based around class.

Therefore, all existing genders come as a result of social perception, economic privilege or poverty, and even family history. In the same way that perception of the sexes (as de Beauvoir outlines in “Le deuxième sexe”) alters in different classes, as do the perceptions of different genders. Where the proletariat is more sexually and socially liberated, they are economically unfree; where the bourgeoisie is frigid and socially bound to conservative “order”, they are economically irrational. As a general rule, masculine-leaning genders have taken the power, feminine genders subordinated, and heterosexuality forced into the norm.

Where Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, she did not get to that position because she was a woman, but because she was masculine. Could you, though, imagine a feminine woman or a camp man becoming Prime Minister? We are defined nowadays not by our sex, but by our gender (or how society perceives our gender).

What this has lead to, then, is a heteronormative and patriarchal society where the great focus of most gender studies is centred around feminism. Even if they are the most oppressed of the two sexes, they are certainly also the most studied. Hardly a social science student can call themselves thus if their eyes haven’t graced over a copy of Le Deuxième Sexe or The Female Eunuch; indeed, even if the oppression of women hasn’t ended, the intrigue to define them is still a hot topic. But we must see a change in the academic sphere. In the same way that no gender should dominate because it makes society degenerate (look at our current world), the opposite gender should not dominate gender studies purely because it is oppressed. To perpetuate the gender binary is just as oppressive.

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MP calls for Parliament to examine Canada’s total lack of abortion law

And it has a running start. Meanwhile, south of the border, where this same status quo existed less than a year ago, anti-abortion media are already declaring a victory of sorts. Writing in the National Catholic Register, one writer discusses a revelation she had while reading news reports of reality TV star and mother of 19, Michelle Duggar’s miscarriage:

“At first I moved on from these posts with nothing more than a glance; I didn’t want to dampen the Christmas spirit by reading the inevitable vitriol about those wacky pro-lifers and their obsession with “fetuses.” But then I noticed something shocking:

“Wait a sec…nobody is denying that this is a baby!

“… I believe that we have just witnessed the tide turn.”

Whatever side you take on this question, be aware that no one is served well by a one-sided debate. Responsible society must at least listen to a myriad of arguments and weigh the value of both. One-sided arguments miss or even deliberately erase some important truths that must be remembered and mitigated if and when possible.

I write as someone who has not experienced having to consider abortion, who is not likely to ever experience this, and who has never been party to a discussion on whether to abort. I don’t speak for anyone who does fit those criteria. But I do speak, because I see the politics of fear and silence setting up a dangerous scenario in Canada.

Over the next short while, I will be delving into the anti-abortion upsurge that has happened south of the border, how it’s already started to filter into Canada, what’s at the heart of the debate, and what the implications are.

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Canada: Human rights complaint launched against N.W.T. minister

This is such bullshit. These people have no decency what so ever. Would a person who a racial or ethnic minority be treated this way? What about someone differently abled?

From CBC:

Transgender woman claims minister asked her to leave, re-routed Governor General’s route to avoid her

CBC News
Posted: Dec 19, 2011

The Northwest Territories’ Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger is facing a human rights complaint.

A woman in Fort Smith, N.W.T., says Miltenberger discriminated against her during the Governor General’s visit to the Aurora College campus on Dec. 9 because she is transgender.

The way transgender people self-identify does not necessarily match their biological sex. Landrie was born male but identifies and dresses as a female.

Governor General David Johnston was in the territory December 9th for a tour.

Gabrielle Landrie, who is a math and business student at the college, said Miltenberger asked her to leave when she was standing near a computer lab with a friend.

“Mr. Miltenberger walked up to us, looked at me directly, and said ‘You have to leave’,” said Landrie. “And I said, ‘oh?’, and he said ‘You spooked the governor general so you have to leave’.”

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Not Sexy: Victoria’s Secret ‘Fair Trade’ Cotton Harvested by Child Slaves

From Alternet:

A new report finds evidence of forced child labor in Burkina Faso.

By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd 
December 21, 2011

Victoria’s Secret is in the business of selling fantasy. Its elite team of supermodels (called “angels”) are painstakingly selected and considered some of the most beautiful women in the world, and its fashion show is a major television event, this year attracting musical performances from Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj. It is about glamor and exceptionalism, and its marketing is centered inextricably around making women who wear Victoria’s Secret’s lingerie feel equally glamorous and exceptional.

But the company cannot ignore the increasing demand for sustainable products, and so when it began using “fair trade, organic cotton,” the sexy-seeking, environmentally minded could ostensibly feel better about their choice to patronize Victoria’s Secret. Little tags in tinier thongs noted: “Made with 20 percent organic cotton from Burkina Faso.”

Which sounds comforting, only an expose published this week by Bloomberg reports that the cotton at that farm in Burkina Faso is harvested by children, who are not only forced to work long hours in the grueling sun, but are beaten if they don’t perform up to par.

As Victoria’s Secret’s partner, [fair trade leader Georges] Guebre’s organization, the National Federation of Burkina Cotton Producers, is responsible for running all aspects of the organic and fair-trade program across Burkina Faso. Known by its French initials, the UNPCB in 2008 co-sponsored a study suggesting hundreds, if not thousands, of children like [13-year-old laborer] Clarisse could be vulnerable to exploitation on organic and fair-trade farms. The study was commissioned by the growers and Helvetas. Victoria’s Secret says it never saw the report.

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The lamentations of the rich

From World Socialist Web Site:

Alex Lantier and David North
22 December 2011

Recent months have seen the eruption of popular anger throughout the United States at the staggering levels of social inequality, with the Occupy Wall Street protests gathering broad popular sympathy and support.

This development, unforeseen and unscripted by the media, has left Wall Street’s “masters of the universe” wallowing not only in money, but also in self-pity. What have they done, complain these tender-hearted architects of hedge funds, collateralized debt obligations and countless other forms of financial swindling, to merit such popular disdain? The Financial Times web site reported in an article posted Wednesday that the rich are “indignant,” resentful of the “class war” rhetoric that is being heard in public protests.

The protesters, they argue, have been misled into believing that higher taxes and the imposition of limits on the accumulation of personal wealth would have any significant impact on the national debt. The attention being given to their multi-million- and even billion-dollar annual winnings, the indignant rich maintain, is without the slightest economic justification.

According to Steven Schwarzman (CEO of private equity/corporate raider firm Blackstone Group), whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $4.7 billion, “Just raising taxes on the wealthiest two percent, for example, will not reduce a $1.3 billion annual deficit enough to restore fiscal balance.”

Given the billions that he has raked in on Wall Street, Mr. Schwarzman seems strangely deficient in arithmetic. Prior to the Wall Street crash of 2008, the richest one percent of the population owned approximately $19 trillion in US financial assets. A moderate surcharge of, let’s say, 30 percent would have a rather significant impact on not only US deficits, but global deficits as well.

More radical—and, given the circumstances, fully justified—measures, such as the confiscation of the personal wealth of the richest 0.1 percent of Americans, would release immense resources to deal not only with deficits, but with the massive social crisis in the United States and throughout the world.

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Matt Damon Rips Obama – Would Prefer A ‘One Term President With Some Balls’

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Official Occupy Wall Street Thank You Video

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Compassion Is Our New Currency

From Michael Moore:

By Rebecca Solnit
December 22nd, 2011

Usually at year’s end, we’re supposed to look back at events just passed — and forward, in prediction mode, to the year to come. But just look around you! This moment is so extraordinary that it has hardly registered. People in thousands of communities across the United States and elsewhere are living in public, experimenting with direct democracy, calling things by their true names, and obliging the media and politicians to do the same.

The breadth of this movement is one thing, its depth another. It has rejected not just the particulars of our economic system, but the whole set of moral and emotional assumptions on which it’s based. Take the pair shown in a photograph from Occupy Austin in Texas.  The amiable-looking elderly woman is holding a sign whose computer-printed words say, “Money has stolen our vote.” The older man next to her with the baseball cap is holding a sign handwritten on cardboard that states, “We are our brothers’ keeper.”

The photo of the two of them offers just a peek into a single moment in the remarkable period we’re living through and the astonishing movement that’s drawn in… well, if not 99% of us, then a striking enough percentage: everyone from teen pop superstar Miley Cyrus with her Occupy-homage video to Alaska Yup’ik elder Esther Green ice-fishing and holding a sign that says “Yirqa Kuik” in big letters, with the translation — “occupy the river” — in little ones below.

The woman with the stolen-votes sign is referring to them. Her companion is talking about us, all of us, and our fundamental principles. His sign comes straight out of Genesis, a denial of what that competitive entrepreneur Cain said to God after foreclosing on his brother Abel’s life. He was not, he claimed, his brother’s keeper; we are not, he insisted, beholden to each other, but separate, isolated, each of us for ourselves.

Think of Cain as the first Social Darwinist and this Occupier in Austin as his opposite, claiming, no, our operating system should be love; we are all connected; we must take care of each other. And this movement, he’s saying, is about what the Argentinian uprising that began a decade ago, on December 19, 2001, called politica afectiva, the politics of affection.

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