Why I report on so many negative things


One of the few woo peers I have that was separate from my abusive ex is vaguely aware of what I’m going through. In true woo fashion, she tried to offer some advice: “Of course you’re wilting, Shiv, you surround yourself with so much negativity. Stop being such a draaaag, woman.”

Said peer is an able-bodied cisgender white woman who is conventionally attractive and in a heterosexual relationship with a man who makes a handsome salary. Like most woosters who advocate for separating oneself from “negativity,” she has enough privilege given her circumstances that it truly doesn’t matter who is in office, because she’ll never be the target of discriminatory legislation. She can afford to pretend the government doesn’t exist.

I’ll concede that tracking political idiocy is definitely not an emotionally nourishing activity. It absolutely takes its toll on me. However, I feel that the work of advocating, educating, signal boosting, etc. is more important than the cost it takes on me.

To start, I am my own boss. FTB is a fairly hands-off network. There’s an agreement not to “punch-down,” and as long as you’re not as egregious as tf00t, you’ll generally never hear from the rest of the network in a formal capacity. We’ll disagree openly from time to time but this isn’t considered a problem on a free thought network (go figure). But there’s no time cards and no accountability for the volume of material we produce. The point is, I get to apportion how much time I spend researching stupidity to report on it. If I feel like I need to allocate more time to self care, I will. It’s that simple. I can put myself on med leave any time I want, for as long as I want. Some of the silly stuff I report on, like Good Music to have Stuck in Your Head or Fun Things to Try in Kink, are a way of me continuing my blag while blowing off some steam.

Second, I’m frequently accused of being a democratic crusader. I take the notion of democratic participation very seriously, and it puts people off when I blast them for their apathy. The process of voting means empowering someone to make decisions that affect law; that people make this vote without thoroughly investigating their candidates is absolutely appalling to me. And I definitely lose a few friends every time I mention not voting at all (which is different from casting an “abstain” on your ballot) makes one complicit in whoever is chosen. We have the power to empower a representative. I say, recognize that power, and use it wisely. Which brings me back to reporting on political idiocy.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: We’re all fucking idiots about something. But we at least have the power to choose what kind of idiot we want in office. Someone who antagonizes the development of nuclear energy, in my mind, is preferable to someone who antagonizes the development of minority rights and protections. So I’ll cast my vote for environmentalist parties who don’t support the nuclear industry, despite believing in arguments in favour of it, because they’re more likely to bolster (rather than shit on) my rights, and the consequences of having explicit rights outweigh the consequences of a solar-hydro-wind power grid.

In other words, I can’t afford to pretend the government doesn’t exist, because its agents–from emergency responders to bureaucrats who have my history on file–have the power to antagonize me. So I want a government that says, “that’s not okay.” Not a government who is willing to give a free pass to police officers who arrest me for having condoms on my person, or a government who doesn’t prosecute the EMT who decides my life isn’t worth saving because of my genitals.

These are not things cis people typically think about, certainly not what woosters think about when they tell me to stop being a “drag,” so I have to make it apparent that these are the issues that affect me and the democratic process means they won’t stop being issues until enough people start to care about it such that it becomes their voting issue too. Trans people, being a tiny minority, can’t do this alone.

In other words, I take this shit so seriously because I can’t afford to be apathetic. The status quo is stressful enough as it is. If I can get even one cis person to add trans issues to their voting docket, then I have done my job as an activist. I’ll keep going, obviously, because we need more than one vote to get anywhere, but you get what I mean.

Having the option to ignore the government? It means you have privilege. It means your rights aren’t a hotbed of debate, where there is a very real possibility someone could enter office with an agenda to put you down. I freely admit that my mental health would improve in the absence of this, but the sad truth is that ignoring them doesn’t actually make the consequences of a discriminatory government go away. When I hear, “just let it all go, maaan” what I actually understand is “I can afford to ignore the government, why can’t you?” They go on to try and guilt-trip me into thinking I have a choice. “You always have a choice, maaan” is one of the more common and infuriating ideas perpetuated by woosters. You choose to be upset. You choose to be oppressed. What are you complaining about? I’ve never had any anxiety when going to the bathroom. Clearly you’re stressing yourself out over imaginary problems.

Well, my “choices” are: 1) Participate in democracy and do what I can to choose and boost the least awful disaster of a political party; or 2) Smile and sing kumbaya while I subject myself to the mercy of the majority who has a history of sucking ass when it comes to treating minorities equitably. My rights won’t write themselves into existence. Maybe that’s easy to forget when yours have already been secured.




Just kidding, Alberta MLA reinstated after Facebook incident


A few days ago, Derek Fildebrandt was suspended from the Wildrose caucus for approving a double-whammy homophobic and transphobic comment. Now he has been reinstated:

Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt is back in the Wildrose caucus.

The party said in a news release that the decision was made by a majority of Wildrose MLAs after Fildebrandt committed to change his use of social media.

Ha ha, just kidding guys! You thought the Wildrose were more tactful than that. HA!

At a news conference Monday, Jean [Wildrose leader] said the Facebook incident was the latest of several missteps on social media. He wouldn’t specify the nature of the previous incidents.

Could it be that your MLA is a total dickweed, just like you and the rest of your babble-thumping hick party?

Alberta’s official opposition is a joke. With any luck it will stay that way.


More religious institutions receiving public money request “conscience” exemptions


Guys, I am getting so fucking sick of Catholic institutions receiving public funding but refusing to play by public rules:

Covenant Health is a Catholic organization that runs publicly funded hospitals in Edmonton and continuing-care facilities across the province. In February, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said Covenant Health would not allow patients to end their lives with the help of a doctor in its facilities.

So we sailed way past, “this individual practitioner does not want to offer euthanasia,” which is fine, and into “euthanasia is never happening under this hospital.”

This is a public institution. Governed by public, not Catholic, law.

Yet, the Catholics have openly stated they will be even more obstinate than that:

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Good music to have stuck in your head: Mother Mother


It is often joked that one of Canada’s exports is musicians. I’m happy to say that my favourite Canuck indie rock group appears to have no plans to move away. Nonetheless, I’m all too eager to share their products:

How dare you suggest part of the reason I’m interested in them is that they’re all hipsters! Perish the thought!!


Let’s play Nation States with Shiv


Waaay back in high school, my friends and I formed a region on the text-based government simulator called Nation States. It’s a free web game where you make a fictional nation and respond to legislative issues, and watch as the game produces a text summary of your nation based on your choices. It abstracts three areas of performance: Civil Rights, Economy, and Political Freedom. It assigns you a classification based on your performance. I revisited the website and made a new nation, Shivistania. You can make the entire game just logging in once every few days, responding to issues, and watching your wacky nation change.

There is also another optional way to add to the game. You can join regions and participate in UN-esque mock debates with other nations. You’re given one of the default regions when you make your first one, but I’ve gone ahead and made Bloglandia. I want to invite the readers at FtB not only to make their own Nation States, but to come join me at Bloglandia. Password is “FTB.”

So, here’s the idea: the minimum commitment is that you’ll log on every so often, could be as little as once a month for a couple minutes, resolve your issues, and that’s it. By joining the region, the rest of us can observe your shenanigans. Or mine, for that matter. 🙂

I will moderate another optional form of participation. Every few months, Bloglandia will have some kind of crisis, and we can all do a bit of nation roleplay to see if/how the region settles it. Absurdism is the regional theme. For instance, quoted from my nation summary:

Average income is 22,706 Open-handed Spanks, and distributed extremely evenly, with practically no difference between the richest and poorest citizens.

Yes, spanks for everyone. Equality’s important!

The regional “crises” will have an absurdist bend to them as well.

I recommend going to your Settings and finding your Telegram filter. I filter all recruitment messages. There are many of them, and it is quite spammy.

Anyway, see you kooks in Bloglandia!


Conservatives expect cookies for axing opposition to gay marriage in federal policy


*Checks watch*

Yep, it’s definitely still 2016. Never mind that the Cons both had, and lost, the debate on gay marriage back in 2005. Let’s beat a dead horse, 11 years later. (Something to look forward to, Americans)

The Conservatives, the right-of-Canadian-centre federal party in Canuckistan, has only now removed its “definition of marriage” from their policy handbook:

VANCOUVER — The Conservative party wiped a policy opposing same sex marriage off its books Saturday, proof many said that the party is truly setting a new course on the road to the next federal election.

A motion to delete sections of the party handbook supporting legislation to define marriage as being between a man and a woman was adopted by a vote of 1036 to 462 delegates at the party convention on Saturday afternoon.

Nearly one third of your party has to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era, but whatever, you made the right decision in the end.

Oh wait.

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Trans people illustrate their dysphoria


Buzzfeed has an article which features artwork from trans folk who were asked to illustrate their gender dysphoria. The results are pretty remarkable:

“To me, dysphoria comes mostly from people’s gazes and words. They see me as a ‘girl’ and call me as such — even in the most innocent way — simply because they don’t know. Being called that, because of my body shape, feels like being trapped into a tight envelope made out of ‘girl’ stereotypes and expectations. A ‘girl suit’ that is slowly choking me. The more they call me girl, the more the ‘girl suit’ takes over, covering my real self, my real colors.”





The original hashtag, #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou, was an attempt to expand the conversation on abuse to include emotional abuse and not just physical violence. It was a heterosexual-centric strategy. I’ve heard plenty of anecdotal stories about queer women not seeking help for domestic violence because, of course, queer DV is seldom represented, so they get odd ideas about abuse that rely on the assumption of a straight man and straight woman being together.

So here’s my version:

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but she threatens to leave you if you dare to mention your boundaries again.

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but you can’t remember what conversation you started because she made it about her again.

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but you can’t finish a sentence without being interrupted and told you’re being oversensitive.

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but you find yourself apologizing for trying to explain why you’re upset.

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but she convinces you to try risky things and then blames you for being scared when she offers no support.

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but she takes your consent for granted and feels entitled to push your buttons without discussion.

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but you feel like you deserve to be hit.

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but she calls your life passion a waste of time.

Maybe she doesn’t hit you, but she psychoanalyses you without invitation and suggests motives to you that were never there.

I get to go to the domestic violence women’s survivor group this week. We’ll see how it goes.


Alberta MLA suspended over Facebook comment


On issue #1,232,191 of “politician puts foot in mouth:” Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt was suspended from his party caucus after approving a comment which stated, “Mr Wynne or whatever the hell she identifies as.”

Earlier Friday, a person commented on Fildebrandt’s official Facebook page, congratulating the MLA on telling the truth about “Mr Wynne or whatever the hell she identifies as,” referring to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is openly gay.

In a reply to the post, Fildebrandt wrote: “Proud to have constituents like you!”

Hours later, Fildebrandt took to Twitter to apologize for the comment, saying he felt terrible at the thought that anyone in the LGBTQ community thought he shared the original commenter’s views. He said after re-reading the original comment, he “entirely misread it. 100 per cent against my views.”

Fildebrandt goes on to say he missed the “Mr” portion of the comment, a deliberate dig not only at Ontario’s openly gay Premier, but also the trans affirming policies being debated at the federal level. Even if this is true, the latter portion of the comment, “whatever the hell she identifies as,” is a little harder to miss.

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