SARcasm











So I want to say up front that I have never been a particular Jian Ghomeshi fan. I enjoyed Moxy Fruvous, and would listen to “Q” (his well-known show on CBC Radio 1) if he had a particularly interesting guest or topic, but I was no loyalist. So when about a yearΒ ago I read this pieceΒ on XOJane by Carla Ciccone, detailing (and I understate things) an arrogant and far-too-persistent ‘bad date’ with boundary and personal space issues, and understood through comments thereafter that this was a thinly veiled story about Ghomeshi, it didn’t particularly fizz on me one way or the other. Creeper, I thought, glad I don’t know him, but doesn’t quite sound criminal, and he’s OK at what he does, and hey, aren’t we all fans of some problematic people or other? It didn’t really change my opinion of him one way or the other. Entitled minor celebrity, I thought, and pursued my previous stance of ‘I wasn’t a big fan of his anyway, but this isn’t worthy of a boycott, I’ll listen depending on the topic or guest at hand.’

That said, I never forgot that read, or that I got the sense through scuttlebutt that this wasn’t exactly out of line with Ghomeshi’s off-air reputation. So when I heard this past Sunday that he’d been fired by the CBC, I wondered dimly if it was related to an issue, or issues, like this. Ghomeshi’s Facebook statement followed within hours, suggesting (and I summarize very briefly, it was a long note) he was fired for enjoying rough sex but that it was always consensual, and to suggest otherwise was a smear campaign against him by a jilted ex-girlfriend and a few co-consipirators, and of course, the internet began taking sides. I very carefully made a point of not doing so. On the one hand it is a personal policy of mine, as a feminist, not to doubt claims of assault or sexual abuse. After all, the media, public, and – worst of all – courts and law enforcement do a good enough job of that, making it difficult for victims everywhere to come forward (indeed, according to the Toronto Star, who ultimately came forward with the story in light of the firing, the reason the women didn’t press charges, and wished to remain anonymous, was fear or reprisal or revenge). On the other, while the tone of Ghomeshi’s open letter bothered me on a number of levels, I was impressed with him getting out ahead of the story when it might seem simpler to just bite one’s tongue, and I have a natural instinct (applied to both sides, in my defense) to give the benefit of the doubt and want to information-gather before any witch hunt.

Especially in this case, where there is so much at stake in being wrong. What feminist in their right mind wants to unwittingly defend a rapist, or accuse an assault victim of lying? On the other hand, if there was even a bit of truth in Ghomeshi’s claims, who wants to see a man’s career ruined because he’s a bit of a creep around girls and has some ‘deviant’ tastes in the bedroom? What if it was a misunderstanding where neither side was lying, the women genuinely thought they were consenting to one thing while Ghomeshi took it as license for another? I want to be clear – I never for an instant believed the women involved were lying. There was too much smoke for there to be fire. But “how bad was it”? Was Ghomeshi a monster, pure and simple, or clueless, entitled, in need of education on how to deal with his fetishes in a safe and responsible manner? Or heck with it – at that point, is there even a difference?

Bottom line, in the immediate aftermath and firestorm, when it was a LOT of he-said she-said, while I had my guesses in my heart of hearts in terms of what was up, I had no interest in getting involved. I figured, it will all come out in the wash and all will have their day in court … and media … and whatever other arena these issues get batted around. Because trust me, there are some big issues to discuss here, from rape culture and the difficulty to come forward in cases of assault – especially when the perpetrator is famous, powerful, and probably a serious gatekeeper in an industry you have an interest in if you run in the same circles as him – to BDSM and the importance of being safe and clear if engaging in it, to how ‘innocent until proven guilty’ comes into play in hiring and firing situations and beyond.But all that said – four days have passed now. More women have come forward anonymously, and one – Canadian actress Lucy Decoutere – has done so publicly. Ghomeshi has done precious little to convince me – or anyone – that these stories are false. And apparently, that ‘anyone’ now includes his PR firm, who dropped him today.

So – for this writer anyway, in my small bubble – the time for ‘having an opinion but keeping it to myself’ is over. In trying to be fair-minded, I in fact took too long in putting out there what my gut was telling me from the first this story broke. And while I understand Ghomeshi is stillΒ ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in a legal sense, he has lost whatever benefit of the doubt I was prepared to give him. Not only is he an abuser of women, he apparently has been one for a very long time. And while I still have no desire to lead any witch-hunts, or deny him his day in court, I think it’s time we all recognize that ‘innocent until proven guilty’, as my friend Anne over at The Belle Jar has pointed out several times through this story, doesn’t just extend to suspects of crimes, but their victims too. And all too often, that benefit of the doubt is denied to rape victims, perpetuating a vicious circle where they are uncomfortable coming forward “the right way” (un-anonymously, to the police), and thereby doubted even further because, well, if it was true, why wouldn’t you report it?

And while I am a little late to this party (whether via a noble attempt to be fair to all sides, or perhaps on some selfish level wanting to be sure I was ‘right’ before speaking out), I would like to encourage everyone now to take this story beyond Jian Ghomeshi, beyond the CBC, and to the crux of this issue everywhere – the fact that a man was allowed to abuse women uninhibited and consequence-free for decades, despite everyone “Knowing About Jian”. Even his closest friends have expressed a hindsight awareness of his behaviour, yet he continued to hold a cushy job, millions of fans, and lots of women willing to go on dates with him having no idea what the consequences would be. This is rape culture at its worst, and we as a society need to explore carefully how this happens. Because until and unless we look at this topic head-on, there will always be another Jian Ghomeshi, and there will always be decades worth of anonymous victims afraid to come forward except in the most hush-hush, whispered innuendo of terms.

Advertisements


{January 3, 2014}   New Year, New Reading!

Hi all! Hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday and that 2014 is off to a rolicking start for all! I had a wonderful time with friends and family, and I feel like a good time was had by all this Christmukah season! And now it’s January 3 and we’re back to the routine’ – the take the tree down, make room for holiday gifts, unpack and have laundry on constant loop time. So much I could say about the week or two before now, from what I felt was a very successful Christmas Eve pageant at church, through a fun Christmas resulting in some new electronics, clothes, books and – most importantly! – amazing time with family, and a Chanukah with my in-laws and just about all our friends back in Kitchener-Waterloo (including a few ‘rasslin’ buddies in Toronto when we went to check out WWE’s live show on Dec. 30 – thanks Ari for the tickets, and Dad for babysitting!).

I will definitely try to do a bit of a look back/look ahead, year end/year beginning post in the next day or two, but Christmas break also means new reading, and despite having done some reading in recent months I haven’t updated my reading list in some time, so I wanted to take care of this before I forgot and got sidetracked with other things in the New Year. I also wanted to make a couple of changes; namely, changing my two Dan Brown picks to “Book of Negroes” by Canadian author Lawrence Hill (which I finished over the winter break, incidentally), and to “Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family” by Susan Katz Miller. You can find those changes below in bold, and “Book of Negroes” struck off. I may yet replace one or two books below with Malala Yousafsi’s autobiography and “Blood”, also by Hill, but I’m going to hold off on that as yet, since I’m still really interested in my list as it is, so I might just read those over and above my 101 books. We’ll see. πŸ™‚

That said … for my first book review of 2014, we’ll look at a wonderful piece of CanLit, “THE BOOK OF NEGROES” by Lawrence Hill, with no further ado …

I’m a bit behind the 8-ball in reviewing this one as it’s roughly 5-6 years old, but I read Hill’s “Black Berry, Sweet Juice” a couple of years back and wanted to read more of his work. Ari bought me this book for Chanukah and I read it over about 2 weeks’ time, which should tell you how engaging it was, and an easier read than you might expect given the subject matter. πŸ™‚ You can find the review below.Β 

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. β€˜Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The SixΒ WivesΒ of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill
42. Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family – Susan Katz Miller
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

I’m torn on exactly what to say about this book. As I said in my Goodreads review, on the one hand I want to get a bit picky about how readable and accessible it is in some ways – should a book about slavery really be a ‘page-turner’? On the other hand, it speaks well to the author that, while he doesn’t (much) sanitize things (although I’m sure the horror of slavery is such it is impossible to write about from this remove without any sanitation), he creates an accessible book that you don’t need to be a historian or scholar to read, enjoy and learn from. Aminata Diallo is a relatable character who faces both a lifetime of losses and horrors, yet builds important and affirming relatinonships that see her through. While there are a few unrealistic conceits throughout the story designed to build hope and affirmation, you still feel the strength her journey requires of her, and the understanding that even when good things happen, it has so often gone the other way it is far from a sure thing (and vice versa). A very human story about a very inhuman time and place, crossing the map from Africa to the Southern United States to the Northeast, into Canada, and back to Africa before one last trip to England, this historical novel might struggle in some places with the risks of the genre – telling a compelling and entertaining story while remaining true to difficult subject matter – but by and large succeeds, and at the very least is a compelling and engaging read you will not regret.



{September 4, 2013}   PEI Trip – Mini Photo Journal

What a couple of weeks! On August 22 we got in our car and headed East. We went through Quebec City, Quebec …

Us in front of the Assemblee Nationale

Us in front of the Assemblee Nationale

Where we got to check out the Plains of Abraham …

Boys on the Plains of Abraham

Boys on the Plains of Abraham

And les Chutes Montmorency …

Montmorency Waterfall.

Montmorency Waterfall.

Before heading to Fredericton, New Brunswick …

View from our hotel window in Fredericton

View from our hotel window in Fredericton

Where we met up with my in-laws ..

Ari and his folks outside the New Brunswick Provincial Legislature.

Ari and his folks outside the New Brunswick Provincial Legislature.

On our way to Prince Edward Island.

Confederation Bridge.

Confederation Bridge.

Which meant a cute cottage …

#2 at Island Living Cottages.

#2 at Island Living Cottages.

And sea food …

The Lobster's Claw - in the Brackley Beach/Rustico etc. area.

The Lobster’s Claw – in the Brackley Beach/Rustico etc. area.

Avonlea Village …

Little Tyke with the Avonlea gang (L to R) - Gilbert, Anne, Diana and Josie.

Little Tyke with the Avonlea gang (L to R) – Gilbert, Anne, Diana and Josie.

Cavendish Beach …

Little J on his way to the beach.

Little J on his way to the beach.

Green Gables House …

The hubby and me at Green Gables.

The hubby and me at Green Gables.

The Anne of Green Gables Musical …

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical at Confederation Theatre.

Anne of Green Gables: The Musical at Confederation Theatre.

Province House (which means we got our photo taken in front of three – count ’em, three! – provincial legislatures on this holiday) …

The gang, including sleepy Little J, outside Province House.

The gang, including sleepy Little J, outside Province House.

And lots of fun in Charlottetown at a neat restaurant named Pedro’s …

Pedro's neat place mat!

Pedro’s neat place mat!

And on a lobster boat.

Little Tyke and the lobster.

Little Tyke and the lobster.

Before coming home and getting our little monsters ready for a new ‘year’ at school and the sitters.

The kiddos, ready to return to school and the sitter's.

The kiddos, ready to return to school and the sitter’s.

An amazing and busy time … the moments you live for. I’m glad to be back and ready to dive back into ministry and teaching, but I’ve got to say … I’ve brought a bit of the Island back with me (literally! check out the inside of my purse I took to Cavendish Beach!) …

Check a big item, 25 years and a lifetime of love for all things “Anne of Green Gables”, off the Bucket List.



Canada-and-the-United-States

 

This past weekend, it was Canada Day here in the Great White North (except, you know, not so white and snow-covered in July, believe it or not! Our igloos have melted!). This is when we celebrate Confederation, the coming together of the first few of our Canadian provinces under a Federal system. It might not be as exciting or sexy a story as our American brothers and sisters to the south are celebrating today – Independence Day – as they fought for their freedom in an outright Revolution, but it still represents our first steps towards our own decision-making as a country, which … while still nominally a member of the British Commonwealth, really, we do to this day.

Meanwhile, today, as mentioned, my American family and friends are celebrating Independence Day, the day they declared independence from the British, and fought long and hard to do so. While freedom is always imperfect, and both the US and Canada continue to struggle towards “a more perfect union”, towards “peace, order and good government”, I still can’t help but think we North Americans have gotten at least a few things right over the years … including the right to point it out, criticize, and elect new representation when we DON’T get it right!

Happy Canada Day! Happy Independence Day!



et cetera