Tag Archives: human rights

On the occasion of a horrendous election pending and the women v women way we behave


Organizing yet another bake sale to fund the hospitals the men wouldn’t let women earn money to build

Ah, women.

I am one, I think, and yet I am filled with puzzlement at them. I have a group of marvelous women friends who I adore. We all would come running to whomever needed support, would offer casseroles, muffins, homemade soup, a warm shoulder to cry upon. My friends keep me alive, make me laugh, give me joy.

But many would leave the recipient’s house, commenting to each other, “Well, I wouldn’t have dealt with things THAT way,” or, “Where’s that man of hers? Why doesn’t he help?” or “Did you see what state her house is in?”


“Can you imagine?”

It’s the same thing that makes some (never me, I simply don’t care) rearrange the dishwasher if someone else loads it, that makes us repack suitcases for children and men, that sighs at the general incompetence of everyone except us.

It’s why women who succeed are universally regarded with suspicion – by other women! – and why we have never been able to fully mobilize to take back our rights from abusers and others. I still think the best way to frighten abusers into submission is to show up en masse


“Whose that over there throwing stones at us? Is that Gladys?”

at court dates and funerals of those harmed and stand there, as the police do, a physical and huge threat. We are over half the population. But no one will do that because of the sneaking suspicion that the woman might have somehow deserved it – after all, he’s so sweet…and he might like us. Heck, we might even date him. He wouldn’t hurt US.

So here we are in the midst of an American Presidential election between a career politician woman (gasp! No!) who is somewhat more terrifying than all the male career politicians (somehow that is okay, though slightly sleazy), and on the opposition, an utter boor. And he is still in the picture, though everyone is hoping he’ll step down and


“My name is Mike Pence and I own your uterus!”

let a truly evil man take his place, one who talks smoothly with the tongue of repression, rather than revealing his slithering insides.

Well, say many, at least it wouldn’t be a WOMAN. Sadly, even women say this, their envy of success being so poisonous against their own gender that it blinds them to the fact she is better qualified than anyone else who ever stood for the office. And allowing them to accept men who openly or quietly demean women, treat their bodies like possessions, shut them out of top positions, keep them virtual slaves.

I can’t help but feel enraged, though I know the green fire of jealousy burns in me, too.


Happy green

So how can we fix this seemingly permanent line in our nature? Can we erase the poisonous green and replace it with a kinder, springier one?

I’ve met some women who have. One of whom left us this week – my brother-in-law’s sweet mother – one of the kindest women I’ve met, with a belief in her faith that must have been her weapon against jealousy. Unlike many faithful, she never used it as a hammer with strangers. She simply did good.

I know another few women who do this, who step back from selfishness and do good in their quiet way. I love them all and struggle to be more like them.

But much as I love them, I wish we women would get together, stop doing good quietly, and take over the world up front. Enough quietly rearranging the dishwasher in the background, while sighing in exasperation. Let’s teach our fellow world inhabitants how to do things right. As with these quiet good women, we can show by example, but frankly that’s not working well enough. A thousand people tidying the Titanic wouldn’t have saved it from sinking. A woman who knew how to drive the boat who was able to wrest control from the men who blustered their way in charge might have. It’s time for women to do some blustering.


“If only there was a smarter person to take charge! One without breasts!”

But you know what? Probably in the lifeboats (of which there would have been enough because, um, planning), other women would be whispering, “Who does she think SHE is? She should mind her own business.” And the men would be shouting four letter words and commenting about breasts.

I despair.


WHYanmar, Myanmar?

bm_large_locatorThis is what one gets when you ask someone to pick letters for you to get the country you should write about that day. I get Myanmar, a beautiful country located somewhat appropriately on the “balls” section of Southeast Asia, lying along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

Back when it was Burma, it was only regularly corrupt and killed and tortured people only following British rules for same.

Now, though, it rates near the top of the pops for corruption and human rights violations, ruination of children, human trafficking, and the ever popular jailing people for talking.

Oh I know, things are supposed to be getting better and tra la tra la the world is happily trading with Myanmar now, but sheesh. It has a long way to go before it is the sort of country you’d want to ask over for dinner, let alone a long weekend.

Maybe drinks. Or a drink.

But you just know if it gets a lot of liquor under its belt it will become all thrashy and argumentative and kill a bunch of helpless civilians or put Aung San Suu Kyi back in house arrest again on rice rations. It’s happened before.

It seems that kind of place, given to thrusting itself around. People are poor, despite the rubies and diamonds lying about. There’s no spending on infrastructure, health, education. You know, people.

But for some reason many western countries have decided to get all palsy-walsy with the place of late – US presidential visits, cosy little meetings here and there with various other “civilized” places. I know there have been big steps toward a more open society, but I can’t help but wonder if there is something else behind the new friendliness.

Lessee. What’s the CIA Fact Book say about resources?

petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower.

You know, if I were a suspicious kind of gal, I might think there was a plot afoot to get some copper or something, or tin, or even a diamond or two.

And as for the poor kids/women/boys forced into sexual slavery? Hey, that’s just good for trip distractions….especially if you’re with the CIA…(sorry)

woman forced into labour in 2007

woman forced into labour in 2007


Sorry. I sound bitter. It’s just that some places are almost unbelievably precious – like jewel-strewn Myanmar – and yet so filled with evil. It breaks my heart. I mean, they have TIGERS in Myanmar/Burma. They have over 800 species of birds. Hundreds of species of fish, monkeys, flying foxes.

BM_010Beautiful temples. Beautiful people. Rubies, diamonds, precious stones…

So here’s to you, now-Canadians who have left Myanmar. Welcome. We are glad to have you here and may you live in safety and security and feel comfortable even though your oppressively pretty country is nowhere near.

Thank goodness.

I want to marry Stephen Lewis…

Stephen-Lewis-FlickrNever mind that he’s already married, I think, or that I am perfectly happy with my current partner. I just adore the man, and wish all men would be more like him.

Why? Because he loves women.

Not in any sordid way, I mean. I mean he is fighting just as hard as he physically, mentally, and emotionally can to get people to start thinking of AIDS-HIV as a disease of women. Many many many many women, in Africa, in poverty, in partner situations where things may be violent or forced and the options for avoiding AIDS are few.

And for the children they leave behind when they die. The men are long gone, usually, off spreading AIDS to others, searching for the cure through having sex with virgins, or something, I don’t know. I know a lot of grandmothers are raising children, and a lot of orphans are raising themselves.

Lewis is a driven man. He’s probably a bit of a workaholic. But I think he could manage to make me forget about his absences by just talking to me. His speeches never fail to move me to tears or fighting fury.

He was recently at a fundraiser for women in Africa –“Hope Rising!”. Please check it out, listen to the fabulous music, the pleas from African women and from my dream husband.

From the description of the event: Hope Rising!, a benefit concert for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, was an inspiring evening dedicated to the role of women who are turning the tide of AIDS in Africa. Women are at the epicentre of the AIDS pandemic in Africa. They are most affected, and infected, and also are at the heart of the community response.

And of the Foundation: The Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) works with community-level organizations which are turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa by providing care and support to women, orphaned children, grandmothers and people living with HIV and AIDS. Since 2003, we have funded over 700 initiatives, partnering with 300 community-based organizations in the 15 African countries hardest hit by the pandemic.

These grassroots groups are the lifeline for their communities: they provide counselling and education about HIV prevention, care and treatment; distribute food, medication and other necessities; reach the sick and vulnerable through home-based health care; help orphans and vulnerable children access education and work through their grief; and support grandmothers caring for their orphaned grandchildren.

And, once you’ve listened to the music and read about the cause, maybe make a donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Think of it as our wedding present.

So, we get some pandas…

Wow. You’ve got to admire the Chinese. They give you a gift that is even more expensive to keep than Royal Swans, and you DON’T DARE refuse it!

See, here’s the thing. If your government goes over and smarms effectively with the Chinese, conveniently ignoring their human rights record, smiling at the fact that they have already been found to be invading your government in an undercover way, discounting the fact that they are flooding the markets with heaps and heaps of low quality junk that breaks and fills our landfills while secreting lead into our children’s skin and killing off their own population involved in manufacture – well, you get the picture – if you do that effectively enough, the Chinese grant you the great privilege of looking after two of their Pandas.

Never mind that the Panda is the animal most deserving of extinction. Let’s see – it eats bamboo, a low nutrition plant – and it needs miles of it to support its bulk. It mates rarely, probably because the male pandas have very very small penises and are too hung up about that to use them on a female, who probably thinks, “What was that?” and lumbers off in search of more bamboo, which at least grows tall and rigid. Panda couples rarely speak to each other and seem so uninterested in mating they’ve had to resort to showing them Panda porn to remind them how to do it. Then, if the stars mystically align, they produce one or two little bears and wander off to forget about mating for another twenty years or so.

They are coloured to be visible to predators. Here in Canada they’d be toast in a matter of days.

I’d prefer to re-create the Dodo. The cost would be about the same.

Because the Chinese just LOAN their pets. For a rent of a million a year, each. For a required ten years. Egad. And that doesn’t include the cost of the special enclosure, or the shipment of tons of bamboo, probably refreshingly sent from China at a marked up rate. Should the pair do the completely unlikely thing and mate and have baby bears, the rate goes up. And then we send the babies back after three years so the Chinese can conveniently “donate” them to another country.

And the country can’t refuse the bears because it is viewed as a great honour to receive them. To turn down such a generous “gift” would be like recalling an ambassador. What a ruse!

Think of how many homeless people that would house? I know, I know, homeless people aren’t cute, but maybe if we painted them black and white and covered them with fur? It infuriates me that we are thinking of spending this kind of money on these useless animals when the government is cutting back on services in all sorts of areas. But then, we weren’t given a choice, were we?


Hmm, maybe we could offer to send our Senators (hockey team or government) to China for the same deal.