Pick ONE: childish or overbearing

Hey, Sam here. I saw a thing last night that I now feel the need to post about and discuss.


so I came across this last night https://goo.gl/EO3u0A

I thought of several things upon looking at this. While it isn’t apparently that there are any women involved in this post at all, nearly everyone assumed this was a het (if not also cis) relationship, with a femme testing their boyfriend. It rubbed me entirely the wrong way that the last comment seemed to be deriding women who are unable to voice their needs (maybe getting annoyed later on because they weren’t met despite not voicing them) as childish, as if there aren’t good reasons (i.e. survival tactics) that these women don’t allow themselves this, as if this inability to voice emotional needs is unilaterally a burden on their partners instead of something that harms them as well. Women are socialized to not ask for emotional support from men lest they seem too needy. Hell, even men are socialized to not ask for emotional support from other men. It seems logical that people would try to devise ways to test other ways and prompts for emotional support that don’t make the desire apparent and undeniable, when the desire itself is consistently framed as undesirable. How many women have you encountered who pride themselves on not being “overly” emotional or concerned with emotionality (like those other women)? How many men have you encountered who mentioned a woman as being better or more desirable because she didn’t ask things of them emotionally?

To all the people involved in the original post and the commenters I saw later, there was no question about the motivation of the person testing their boyfriend. It was simply taken for granted that it was manipulation for manipulation’s sake. There was no sympathy for why someone might feel compelled to put themselves in a position that inherently requires them to undermine their own boundaries in exchange for having one of their needs fulfilled. The struggle to voice a need after having lived a life wherein you have been shamed and seen other people be shamed for expressing emotional needs (indeed, maybe for even having them in the first place) went wildly unappreciated here. There are labels upon labels heaped onto women who dare to straightforwardly and unabashedly ask for what they need if what they need is inconvenient to the men in their lives, especially when it involves a request for emotional tending-to or attention. Drama queen. High-maintenance. Needy. Emotional. Clingy. Too much work. Attention whore. Asking for too much. Shrill.

I’m tired of women being seen as duplicitous when being straightforward is often so fraught with unintended and undesired consequences for them, when those consequences further run the risk of becoming something that gets attached to their identity as a person (think: “crazy ex-girlfriend” – she just asked for too much). It’s clear from the responses on the post that many girls/women do send texts/say things like this as a test. What seems to many (men and women and enbies alike) like boundary-setting is clearly to them boundary-testing. They don’t know what they’re allowed to have, i.e. the boundary isn’t whether or not their requests will be honored but whether or not they will be emotionally supported. This is less about what the other person isn’t allowed to do (cross boundaries) and more about what they’re allowed to have (emotional security). It’s a cost-benefit analysis in which emotional security came out on top. This is especially the case when people don’t have a great sense for boundaries or feel like their boundaries will be crossed anyway. The concept of the ideal relationship not having any boundaries is a common one within cis-het relationships, so a lack of boundaries might even be seen as a goal by one party or even both parties.

Lest people think I’m advocating for ignoring boundaries set forth by a person, I’ll clarify right here. I’m not. I’m saying there’s a conversation to be had around this instead of just assuming a person is playing mind games or assuming a person is able to say what they really mean. It is possible to honor this request in the moment and still go back and talk about both it (if they want to) and the dynamics of this scenario later, and it’s probably better to, to keep everyone on the same page. It isn’t enough to write this off as ill will, as many people seem to be doing. It’s not enough to assume that the person feels enough security to voice their needs point blank as a given instead of checking in.

Whether this concept of emotional support is healthy is obvious – it’s not healthy. However, what it does say is that these women/couples have likely never set or discussed or negotiated boundaries deliberately and consciously. This is a thing that they should discuss this at some point, with the understanding that this dynamic exists and shapes entire relationships. In the meantime, maybe the other party should say more than just “okay” on the off-chance that this is the case. For example, saying “Okay, I’ll text you tomorrow; let me know if you want to talk about it,” would have accomplished the same thing with less risk of seeming dismissive to someone who is specifically looking to see if their partner will be dismissive of their feelings.

An apt analogy for this situation is if you ask your partner if they want to do something and they say yes but they clearly are uncomfortable about it and it seems like they only said yes because they felt like they had to – do you stop and ask them what’s up or do you keep going because, well, after all, they did say yes? It’s worth checking in to see if your partner really does want to be left alone, especially(!) if the two of you have never had a conversation about this before. It’s important to realize refusing things you actually want is included in not being able to voice what you want. This entire dynamic is reminiscent of this part of desi (South Asian) culture, where when someone offers you something, you’re supposed to keep refusing even when:

  1. it’s already assumed you want the thing, and
  2. you do, in fact, want the thing.

If this seems like verging on paternalism, fret not. I have the same concerns. There’s an easy fix. Instead of insisting that they really didn’t mean what they said, ask. Let them know you’re aware of this dynamic, that you understand it might be hard for them to ask for what they need sometimes. Open doors for these discussions instead of assuming a femme in your life will take it upon herself to do it for you (or else suffer in silence).

The universal expectation that femmes will go out of their way to avoid imposition on their non-femme partners is a heavy consideration here that simply can’t be negated by stating “my femme partner is strong-willed and definitely knows they can ask for their emotional needs to be fulfilled” when it hasn’t been made abundantly and blatantly clear that that is the case. The expectation on the part of femmes that any non-femme worth having a relationship with will save a femme partner from having to lower their worth by directly asking for what they need is a huge consideration here as well. There is shared responsibility for the relationship here. There is a need to respect and address inter- and intra-personal struggle here instead of a knee-jerk reaction that immediately pins a femme as the source of strife rather than as someone who is also victimized by this inability that they did not themselves create, that they maybe do not have the resources or space to remedy on their own. But that would also require asking for emotional resources, wouldn’t it?

Signal boosting: Consider the Tea Cosy nails relationship abuse


Aoife covers relationship abuse over on her blag at The Orbit and abso-fucking-lutley nails it:

You don’t want to. You don’t want this to be happening. You don’t want to believe that Bob- who you respect and like- could have done the things they’ve been accused of. Similarly, Alex has never shown signs of being manipulative or a liar before. You feel like you’ve been dragged into this circus against your will. So you decide to withhold judgement.

What effect does this have?

It strengthens Bob’s standing, and weakens Alex’s.

How does it do this?

Before Alex accused Bob, things were pretty great for everyone but them. Even if Bob was doing something abusive, it didn’t affect anyone but Alex. Everyone (except Alex), without knowing it, believed that Bob wasn’t abusing anyone. That’s the status quo.

When you claim the middle ground, what you’re really claiming is the status quo. You want things to be like they were before. Like it or not, the person who changed everything was Alex. Alex is the one who asked everyone to look at things differently. Alex demanded that we acknowledge that there’s an abuser in our midst.

And your middle ground? It’s not backed up by evidence. If Alex was as likely to be lying as telling the truth, it would make sense to withhold judgement. However, when it comes to rape or abuse accusations? While we don’t have exact numbers, it’s very likely that rates of false accusation lie somewhere somewhere between2% and 8%– although there’s a good argument to be madethateven those numbers are high. Even assuming them to be true, however, this leaves a 92-98% chance that Alex is telling the truth. Only somewhere between one Alex in twelve, or one Alex in fifty is making it up- at most.

Please go read. Her analysis is astute. I’m not happy to say I’ve lived her hypothetical example, but it feels good to know that some people get it, y’know?


Sizable minority of Canadians oppose Bill C-16


MetroNews collected not only some opinions on Bill C-16 and the concept of extending explicit protections to trans Canadians, but also the demographic data of the respondents. So who is actually against and in favour of the Bill?:

The poll found most Canadians to be in favour of the provisions included in the proposed legislation.

Three in four Canadians (74 per cent) agree with a provision in Bill C-16 that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, and 71 per cent are in favour of updating criminal laws to make it a hate crime when someone is targeted because of their gender identity and gender expression.

In addition, two thirds of Canadians (65 per cent) agree with extending hate speech laws to include the terms gender identity and gender expression.

So why is Metro more optimistic about the findings than I am? Simple: It all falls apart once you actually apply  those protections.

A majority of Canadians (55 per cent) think transgender Canadians should be allowed to use the public bathroom of their choice, while one third (32 per cent) believe their public bathroom use should be based exclusively on biological sex.

There’s a discrepancy here–26% of respondents were not in favour of adding explicit protections to trans Canadians, so if the respondents actually knew what the fuck they were talking about, we would expect close to the same amount opposing the use of appropriate facilities for trans folk. Yet it jumps up to 32% when you actually frame the issue as being about bathrooms. On the inverse, 74% of respondents agreed it was wrong to discriminate against trans folk, but you ask them about washrooms and the portion of supporters sinks to 55%. The bathroom question doesn’t add up to 100% because the rest answered in one of the ambivalent categories.

Now are there any differences by demographic response?

[Read more…]

The Canadian National Anthem is now gender neutral


…And no one (important) cares:

Bill C-210, which passed 219 to 79, proposes to switch just two words in the lyrics of “O Canada” — changing “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command” in one verse. The simple substitution is meant to do away with the exclusively male phrasing in part of the song, but it’s also causing an uproar among some conservative members of Canada’s government.

Yes yes, we know the story. Fabric of society, insulting to our glorious history, yadda yadda yadda.

Conservative MP Peter Van Loan also accused the Liberals of trying to impose their worldview on Canadians.

Coming from the political party that only weeks ago updated their definition of marriage?

Tastes like irony.

Now if we can go about getting rid of that “God” business, I’ll be… well, slightly less apathetic. I frankly give zero shits about our anthem.


Topless women and arbitrary nudity laws


This is old hat but it came up on my feed, and I have some thoughts:

A B.C. woman who asserted her legal right to go topless said she was told to cover up by a police officer, and then wrongly told by two other officials that she had broken a law.

Susan Rowbottom said she was tanning topless with a friend last week on a beach in Kelowna, B.C., when a male RCMP officer approached her and told her “put your top on.”

She said she complied, but then asked, “Why? Is there a reason, a law or anything?”

The officer informed the women it was against a city ordinance, Rowbottom said.

When she called a police station, a female officer told her the same. When she called bylaw officials, the person who answered the phone also agreed going topless was illegal.

Finally, she got a call from a city clerk who she said correctly informed her “it’s perfectly legal.”

First of all, this is ridiculous. The police assert that they have discretion to enforce something that isn’t against the law? Who the fuck is training these officers?

If any of you need a demonstration of how arbitrary topless laws are, allow me to ask a very poignant question:

At what point, exactly, does it become illegal for trans women to go topless?

I’d really appreciate a rational explanation for these laws that didn’t amount to, “let’s literally police women’s bodies.”


Wednesday Addams was always my fav


Retrospect is 20/20, so they say, and I can certainly tell you why I identified with Wednesday as a young, highly gender confused child.

I revisited some of the more (relatively) recent Addams iterations and found that the Addams family from ’91 onwards snuck by as sex-positive kinky commentary. These concepts weren’t really in the public consciousness (sex-positivity is arguably still largely unknown) so the Addams family didn’t seem to ping anybody’s moral crisis radar. Or maybe they did? I was definitely too young to be paying attention to politics when this material was new.

Morticia and Gomez’s continuously passionate and loving relationship, despite the years of familiarity, is contrasted with the “typical” married couples who were often resentful and borderline abusive to one another. Gomez and Morticia are enthusiastically expressing their love and sexual desire for one another, and this is seen as contributing to their outsider status. Married couples were supposed to be spiteful, so obviously Morticia and Gomez were freaks if they actually behaved like people who routinely expressed affection and sexual desire for one another.

Morticia: “Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again.

Mmmm yassss girl. Right there with you.

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Signal boosting: Middle Eastern feminist edition


Linda Sarsour hosts a political talkshow on Youtube, and keeps herself busy by getting so much (so frickin much) done on the ground. Her activism was galvanized by the 9/11 hysteria, as is probably the case with most intersectional Muslim feminists. I started paying attention to her for her opposition to Islamic conservatives by being able to engage in debate in Arabic, blasting them for their anti-black racism, among many other things. Her channel is by no means prolific, but she’s a little preoccupied doing the things. Just keep an eye out for her in the news and on Twitter!

Slay, Linda, slaaaay.


Alberta passes carbon tax


The Alberta government has announced that its proposal to implement carbon taxes has passed in Legislature:

The Alberta government passed its contentious carbon tax bill Tuesday but opposition MLAs decried the NDP’s unwillingness to accept amendments.

It was the final bill to pass as the spring session came to an end.

Premier Rachel Notley and house leader Brian Mason will speak about the bill and the session LIVE at 1 p.m.

The tax, which comes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, will be paid by Albertans through their home heating bills and at the gas pumps. Lower-income Albertans will start receiving rebates in January.

MLAs sat until 4:37 a.m Tuesday while the bill went through the committee of the whole. Only one of 21 amendments proposed by the opposition last night were passed.

Government MLAs defeated amendments that would have disclosed the amount of the carbon tax on fuel receipts, set performance measures to test the effectiveness of the tax, and provided exemptions or rebates to charities.

[Read more…]

The Transgender Debate Trope



Content Notice: Transphobia, angry invocation of t-word slur

Most of the time, when implementation of explicit rights for trans folk is “debated,” my face looks something like this:

Very sincere


This is because, like any issue that undergoes debate, there is often an opposing side that the media feels has to be represented to see the “full picture.” And while that is its own kind of stress when someone is representing patently falsifiable claims, it takes a higher toll on you when you are the topic of debate. The opponent isn’t merely representing misinformation, they are representing ideas and policies that actively antagonize your safety, and the whole “we have to represent the whole debate” neutrality business starts to feel a bit callous because the hosts are pretending there is any merit to Buddy McDoucheFace’s arguments. You’re supposed to sit silently while Buddy calls you a predator for being who you are. You’re supposed to give him his turn to speak. You’re supposed to be civil, when Buddy basically called for you to be institutionalized against your will, imprisoned for crimes you never committed. Buddy invokes Holocaust imagery to describe the way you should be treated, and you’re supposed to smile and remain calm in the presence of someone who just admitted they’d murder you in different circumstances.

Enter the Transgender Debate Trope.

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