50ft Feminist

Pop-feminism with a side of politics

Stop using sex education to confuse me!

Some days I just want to stick my head under a pillow and keep it there until the world is a better place. Today is one of those days thanks to the “Institute of Canadian Values” who shall henceforth be named the “Institute of Canadian Bigotry, Homophobia, Transphobia And More Which Would Make This Name Too Long”  (ICBHTMWWMTNTL). Since we’re in the midst of an Ontario election campaign and Liberals wanted to update the sex education curriculum in schools the ICBHTMWWMTNTL put out this sweet and adorable video to petition against the changes (and presumably the Liberal Party).

The current sex education plans include addressing homophobia and teaching children that certain slang words such as “dyke,” and “fag” are hurtful and oppressive. The proposed changes that ICBHTMWWMTNTL talks about on their website are already being rewritten partly because special interest groups like ICBHTMWWMTNTL think that teaching children about homosexuality, masturbation and sex:

is really sexual exploitation of children. And yes that’s a strong term and a strong charge, but this is truly sexually violating little boys and girls.

I think the people at ICBHTMWWMTNTL are in need of a little sex education themselves.

*Update* – The National Post, which ran the ad earlier in the week, has posted an apology here. Just don’t read the comments below the apology. You have been warned.



Usually I look forward to September because it’s the time of all things new. Yet over the past few years my enthusiasm for this time of year has waned. At first I put it down to not having finished my dissertation. There’s no small amount of anxiety that comes with realizing that it’s the start of a new school year and I still don’t have my PhD in hand. But this year I realized it’s not just because I’m still a grad student, a significant part of my dwindling excitement has to do with a lack of decent entertainment. September’s the time of year when new shows start, new games come out, and the fashion industry offers us fresh, exciting ways to express ourselves. It’s almost like Christmas with all the anticipation and excitement. Yet lately, everywhere I look it’s the same old narrow vision of what is supposed to be interesting, appealing, edgy, beautiful, engaging, etc. This year I can’t help noticing that it is all…so…boring! It’s so tiresomely boring that this song by The Pierces seems to be playing on repeat in my head. I think we should officially make it the theme song for September 2011.

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The Pink Strip #1: The Unbearable Pinkness of Being

The Dissemination of Misinformation

At the end of last week, CBC covered the final judgement handed down by the Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench in the case against Katherine Effert. Katherine Effert was convicted of infanticide, a lesser charge than first or second degree murder, which requires that the woman charged be guilty of killing a newborn (under 12 months) and be psychologically unstable at the time that she killed the infant. The Crown argued against the ruling of infanticide by claiming that single fathers and grandparents are subject to the same stresses as single mothers. The Judge rejected this argument on the grounds that our abortion laws reflect our understanding that there are unique stresses which come with carrying a child and that the demands of pregnancy and childbirth can be onerous, particularly in cases where the woman carrying the child has no support. To be clear, Justice Joanne Veit appeared to be using this argument to reject the claim that a single father could then conceivably plead to a lesser charge of infanticide. I say appeared because the court documents have not been released yet.

All was silent for a few days then, on Monday, the right-wing anti-abortion propaganda machine began twisting this argument around. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Objectification

If you’ve been around the feminist blogosphere in the last two weeks you’ll probably have heard that American Apparel ran a contest to search for an XL model.  This raises a question which I’m never sure how to answer, namely, is it a good or bad thing to include larger women in an industry which objectifies women?

On the one hand, American Apparel is noted for (among other things) ignoring anyone bigger than a toothpick, so their XL model search may be a good thing. On the other hand, American Apparel has been widely criticized for their nearly pornographic ads which objectify women and, in some cases, have bordered on being child pornography.  So what are the issues? (*Some NSFW images to follow*) Read the rest of this entry »

And the winner is . . . Edmonton!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Edmonton takes the prize for the least charming place to live in Canada right now. Why? Because besides glamourizing domestic violence in order to sell a hair cut, an inglorious Edmonton radio station has decided to run a Win-A-Wife contest. Yes, you can win your very own mail-order Russian bride. A similar contest was run in New Zealand some time ago and was thoroughly criticized so some top-notch misogynists in Edmonton decided that they’d like to import that contest to Canada.

Now let’s be clear about this, you don’t actually win a wife. What you win is the chance to pick a few potential wives from a catalogue and then hope the person you pick really likes you. So, potential Russian wives, let’s see who’s in the running for your, um…, affection: Read the rest of this entry »

Male Objectification In Comics?

The comic industry has frequently been criticized for objectifying women but, according to Sonia Harris in her recent article for CBR (“Committed: Regarding Male Superheroes as Sex Objects”), we’ve overlooked the fact that men are sexually objectified too. Sonia points out that men are being depicted as “nearly naked and entirely perfect as well.” And while she (maybe?) thinks it’s unfortunate that men and women are being depicted in this way she doesn’t think it’s sexist.

There are a number of problems with her argument not least of which is confusing idealized body standards with objectification. Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of the Non-Apology Part 2

So I talked here about Fluid’s limp apology but I didn’t discuss this part of their response:

…we will be actively setting up partnerships to generate donations with appropriate organizations in this community.  That is a promise.

followed by apologizing to anyone who interpreted their ad to make light of domestic violence and then:

To the rest of you who this has so deeply affected, we truly hope you do something to help stop domestic violence. Truly honor the survivors that you are standing up for. Unfortunately boycotting a hair salon will not accomplish this. (Emphasis mine).

Donating some of the money generated from this ad to shelters in order to deal with the negative publicity is kind of a weaselly move. Read the rest of this entry »

The Art of the Non-apology

The Edmonton based hair salon Fluid is getting a lot of publicity lately because of its distasteful ad depicting a woman with a black eye and the slogan “Look Good In All You Do.” (See the ad here, trigger warning: domestic violence).

The ad shows an obvious lapse in judgement for anyone who cares about other people and doesn’t want to trivialize their negative experiences by making it a selling point in a beauty ad (or any other ad for that matter!) What is so disappointing is the pathetic “we’re sorry you’re offended” response by Fluid that passes for an apology these days. Read the rest of this entry »

Straw-womanning the abortion debate

The National Post recently published an article by Barbara Kay on the moral quandary that feminists face as a result of their belief that women should have a say in what happens to their bodies. Her argument goes something like this:

  1. Women in Canada are allowed to abort for any reason.
  2. In Asia, women selectively abort female fetuses.
  3. Therefore, feminism leads to the destruction of female fetuses. Gotcha!

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