Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Umm... Can I Get Some Fries With That Shake?

*Sigh*... Glorification of the booty. The Bandunkadunk. The diaper bum.

Where did this originate from exactly? I mean, I can throw in some relevant arguments about Saartjie Baartman exhibited as some freak show as Hottentot Venus (Hottentot: derogatory term for Khoi people; Khoi: pastorialist natives of Southwest Africa) in 19th Century Europe and call it a day. I could throw in the usual go-to blame displacement and say it is ALLLLL Hip Hop's fault. But let's look at this at a different perspective. I could blame Kim Kardashian. But I wouldn't give her that much power. This was before her time and out of her control.

What qualities are associated with the booty that it is so glorified and so mainstream that women are determined to go all lengths - back alley booty injections? And why is it that so often, I’m being told that this is classified as a "black problem" not a social problem? Not a patriarchal problem?

It's a blend of things, in my eyes. It's patriarchy at its finest. It's body image, insecurity and misconceptions about a women's qualities being physical-- not intellectual, it's pop culture and Western ideologies. What a woman carries in her pants is valued at a life-threatening price than what she carries in her brain. Aside from all of the arguments we've heard before about where the fascination with a woman's body originated from, the question I'm asking is, has anything really changed? And perhaps, what are you doing to stop contributing to it?

Women ridicule each other for lacking a booty, but never for lacking education. Why? We're all worried about squats (although, it is the smarter choice) rather than getting a degree. We're investing in cement booty shots rather than our intellect? Women love to call each other all kinds of names and compare their assets and name them after fruit and vegetables to compete with each other. Then, they ridicule each other for having a disproportionate booty:legs ratio. Who the hell had time to figure out the probability?

As horrible as this bum to leg proportion looks, how do you get to this point? I doubt that this was a decision made overnight. It's the constant manipulation of the mind that bigger the booty, the better -- to both men and women. Can I get some fries with that shake? At what point do you say NO?

Men choose women based on the booty for 1) Their own satisfaction that their woman has a fine ass; 2) To show other men what they don't have; and 3) The belief that a woman with a booty is far more valuable than a woman with brains because you can immediately see the ass, you need to invest in a conversation to realize the intellect.

Patriarchal ideologies contributing to the glorification of the booty isn't irrelevant at all. This isn't a "black problem" either. 

Baartmen was paraded around Europe by a Scottish man and examined by white Professors, Doctor's and onlookers. She was some amazing miraculous discovery to them. Her body, alive or deceased, was an object.

"Watch out black girl, a non-black girl is fighting for the title in a category in which you are only qualified for because you don't have the qualities to qualify for anything else"...

I questioned several people on their point of views along the journey of this piece for the blog. Yet, no one can tell me WHAT QUALITIES are associated with the booty, that it is worth your life?

It bothers me when people announce to black women out there that they need to "watch out" because non-black women are getting booties now. Oh, we've joined some club or something? But by announcing this as some sort of threat for competition, is it not implying that black women have nothing more to offer than their bodies? Like: "Watch out black girl, a non-black girl is fighting for the title in a category in which you are only qualified for because you don't have the qualities to qualify for anything else"...

Are black women known for nothing else than their asses? Are they known for nothing else than a body to be examined like the Hottentot Venus, then to transform this into some misappropriation by other races? Does this not negate hard working black women who want to be known for their success that has NOTHING to do with their measurements?...

I can be counter-argued by women who claim to have the whole package: Booty, Brains and Beauty. But answer this: What is noticed first? What has more value to them? If someone asked you what you want to change about yourself, would you choose to alter a body part or would you choose academic upgrading or a better job? Argue all you want about "I don't do it for them, I do it for me". That's some bullshit. I'll end that argument there.

Baartman was barely into her 20s when she was sold and exhibited. Women are barely in their 20s now when they're getting their booty injected with some concoction. What has changed?

Parenting - A SOCIAL SKILL

There is a constant debate going on about which parent or parents a child needs in order to grow up into “civilized” individuals. Cut the crap. Everyone is focused on a child needing both mother and father, without considering different types of families. According to Ross and Sawhill (1975), the proportion of single parent female-headed families have doubled since 1960 in America. Other scholarly journals indicate that high levels of psychological distress is prevalent in this specific type of family. However, patriarchal ideologies and misconceptions of primary caregivers are not discussed as frequently as they should outside of Women and Gender Studies.

When I was working in a daycare, two little girls, adopted by a gay couple, had started daycare. They loved the girls with all their heart and cared for them the best they could, and if I were to set standards, I would say they were doing just fine.

But that didn’t stop the widespread comments made by parents and daycare staff about how the two young girls didn’t have a mother in their lives. Some threw pity at the girls for not have a mother, but two fathers. They expressed their “concerns” about how the girls may be bullied in school when their older, yet these adults didn’t realize their contributors to that type of bullying mentality by spreading the idea that a gay couple as incapable of caring for children because there not a traditional nuclear family.

If this is the case, are they saying, then, that a traditional nuclear family of a mother and father ALWAYS raise an upstanding citizen? Are they guaranteeing that those children never grow up to have identity, trust, body image issues or any other issues?

This picture circulated around the internet, and of course, people took to social media to express their opinions of how fathers are not as appreciated as mothers. Let’s be honest, there are a lot more single mothers than single fathers out there.

However, why are we choosing to put one parent on a pedestal over another? And why is there this mentality that a child needs a mother AND a father? What about children that grew up with two fathers or two mothers? Are they doomed?

Yet, the discussion continues. A lot of people who believe that gay couples should not, or I should say, could not possibly care for children tend to have underlying issues with homophobia. For some reason, they believe that if your gay, you have disowned the ability to raise a child.

If a child was to have a mother and a father, this does not guarantee that the child will grow up healthier than having two mothers or two fathers. Children don’t need a mother and a father. They need parents are WANT to be parents, despite gender and sexual orientation. They need people that would put the children before themselves. They need security and safety and nurture.

Those who don’t agree with same-sex couples caring for children often argue that they are subjecting their children to ridicule and discrimination. Yet, they never question why society is imposing that type of ridicule to a child. To avoid ridicule, people believe they should “just stop being gay”. Have you ever tried to “just stop being an idiot”? Guess not.

Plenty of issues intersect in this matter. But there is no guarantee that a person’s sexual orientation determines the livelihood of a child. There is guarantee though, that a child will FOR SURE have several issues if they are cared for by adults that just don’t give a shit about them and have no interest in parenting at all. Why are you so concerned that a child will be discriminated by their parent’s sexual orientation rather than being worried that you child lives in a world of narrow-minded thought process—everywhere.

The argument that a child needs both parents in order to have a healthy childhood and adulthood excludes those raised by grandparents, single parents, same-sex parents and so on. It maintains this mentality that children are only raised right if a man and a woman raise them. Admit it though, we know some really fucked up mothers and fathers who stay married and fuck up their children.

We know a single father out there who is ecstatic that he was able to finally put his daughter’s hair in a bun by holding the ponytail while she spins in circles. What is so wrong with that? Is she going to now lose her ability to identity with femininity because she was raised by a man? Do you not think that the patriarchal society is going to have a worse impact than a loving man that is raising her?

Parenting is not a skill that is innate. Mothers aren’t “naturally” able to care for children more than fathers. I truly believe this. Why? If women were NATURALLY able to care for children better, are you saying there are NO women that don’t care to care for their children? Where is their “maternal instinct” with these individuals? Don't we all rely on outside information to gain parenting skills? 

Parenting is a social skill. You learn it. When you’re a girl, and your mother focused on teaching you housekeeping, cooking, child rearing, but didn’t teach your brother these things, it’s not because it was INNATE in you. It’s because you’re a girl. If you truly believe that parenting is innate in only a woman, you’re basically allowing many men to wash their hands of their responsibilities. Yet, you know men that care for their children well. This is relevant to the argument that a lesbian couple is far more capable of raising children that a gay couple. This is all about this idea that women have this maternal instinct that is innate and natural.

If parenting wasn’t a social skill and it is natural to women and women only, why do we have women who don’t or can’t care for their children? Why do we have men that can?

Let's discuss.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sumaya Dalmar Will Be Missed

Sumaya Dalmar was found deceased in the East York area on Sunday Feb. 22, 2015
Sumaya Dalmar, also known as Sumaya Ysl was found deceased on Sunday morning in the Main and Danforth area in Toronto. Dalmar was a 26 year-old Somali trans-woman well known within the LGBT community. However, sadly enough, her death was barely (if at all) reported in the news until Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Even with the news now, police have very little to report other than that her death did not appear to be homicide. Despite Toronto Police’s statements, many believe her death may have been homicide after all. With respect to the victim, police are declining to provide further information at this time.

The lack media coverage on crimes against the LGBT community is prevalent, especially if the victim is of colour. Provided that Dalmar is a transgender woman of colour sparks debates on whether her death would have reserved more time on the news, or more attention by Toronto Police if she identified as white, heterosexual and perhaps not a woman. Perhaps the lack of coverage is due to lack in evidence that her death was indeed a homicide.

Despite the cause of her death, there is very little evidence that her death was NOT a homicide. As Police continue to seek assistance from the public for more information, this confirms that there is room for more investigation and that denying homicide is perhaps a step in the wrong direction at this time.

Statistics of murder on transgender victims are difficult due to misgendering of the victims. This calls for information on preferred gender to be included for identification purposes on government issued identification. The transition from dualism thinking is important, although many may disagree.

The lack of media coverage for missing or murdered women of colour, despite their sexual orientation has been a problem from before our generation. Missing First Nations women, especially in Mainland, British Columbia is an ongoing battle for First Nations communities and supporters nationwide. Police involvement (or lack thereof) is also questioned. Many of the First Nations women identifying as sex trade workers and this feeds into the complexity of the issue. Unfortunately, many individuals believe that crimes against sex trade workers isn’t much of a crime at all, especially if the crime is of sexual nature, due to their line of work.

The above noted discussion serves as an eye-opener of how the intersection of social markers seems to be correlated with the amount of media coverage, attention by Police and other governing bodies and how much the public is aware of the issue in itself.

Without communication of the issues, people remain oblivious to the seriousness and prevalence of such issues. The push for more awareness and action is understandable when specific communities are excluded from media, police and public attention.

Dalmar is remembered by loved ones at a memorial on March 3, 2015, 6pm, at the 519 Community Centre.

519 Community Centre
519 Church Street
Toronto, Ontario
M4Y 2C9

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The One About The Sign

Scanning the sea of judgemental glares and planned ignoring, I looked for one person to tell me with their eyes, “I get it”. I wasn’t this child’s parent, but I knew everything about him except what is on his mind. “My Little Guy” was Autistic.  In the four years that I’ve known him, he was set in his routine and I knew it well.

Sporadic vocalizations despite the environment, rocking back and forth, waving his arms, pacing… All that I enjoyed as he never failed to smile. He called me “Pa-Een” and often wanted to cuddle and watch his TV shows. He loved van rides and Finding Nemo. In the four years, I guarantee you, I am the one that found Nemo. Not his father, not Dori, but me. I am the true hero.

The passengers on the TTC didn’t know these things. I wish they did. Perhaps then, they wouldn’t wonder why “I” would subject him to a hectic environment as the TTC. Why “I” couldn’t pay for a cab or carry the child. “I”, the perceived parent of Asian decent of Palestinian child huh? Well, since we’re assuming and this IS Toronto, okay.

"People fail to understand the difficulties of redirecting behaviour in public for parents and caregivers of Autistic children."

People looked at me, probably wanting to ask, “What’s wrong with him”, in which I imagined that I would reply, “Nothing, what the fuck is wrong with you?”. I would emphasize the word FUCK in hopes that the inquisitive asshole would be embarrassed and feel the wrath of judgemental glares as I just experienced. At times, I felt unsafe. What if some irrational person decided I or My Little Guy deserved a good push for being “slow”. Then, of course, I had to resort to thinking of some self-defence moves I thought I knew. I knew none.

I sat him down in a busy train on a two-seater. I stood holding on for dear life and watched him smile and be fascinated by a moving train. “I’m in the train”, I imagine he thought so, and loved it. The woman in the window seat shuffled over, clutching her bags and glared at him for a few moments from the side of her eye without turning her head toward his direction. Perhaps she was scared she was going to catch Autism. Catch Autism like catching a cold? If Autism could be cured with Buckley’s, despite how nasty the taste is, maybe I’d give My Little Guy some Buckley’s, just so I can ask him millions of questions like, “Remember that time you got mad at me for insert scenario here, why did you get mad? What did I do”, or “Do you really like Pizza? Or would you rather Pizza over the repetitive menu at the group home?” and “Don’t you wish they had Finding Nemo 2? Because I do”.

In his little hands were little lumps of cotton. He loved cotton balls. He took them a part in little pieces and through them in the air. Something about cotton fascinated him. He called it “Fluff”. I had Fluff. One day, I’ll let him play in a bathtub full of Fluff. Fluff made him so happy.

The Catch Autism lady shuffled again and looked at the cotton in his hand. He flailed his arms slightly and she twitched. Relax lady, if anyone is to hit you in the face, it’s going to be me. Or Autism, because you’re going to catch it. That’s how you catch Autism, it slaps you in the face.

Our stop was coming up. “Time to get off of the train in one minute Little Guy”, I said.

Pre-planned warning of change of environment… Reminder in 30 seconds… Reminder in 10 seconds…Reminder of what is happening at the time it is happening… Praise for completing the process of what was happening after it happened…Calm voice…Don’t hold his hand too tight… Don’t talk too much… Less instructions…

The steps I needed to take after each transition ran like an index scroll over and over in my head. Every minute I’m with this child, my mind is going and going and going. I have to make sure he is okay. I have to avoid tantrums, it takes a toll on him physically and mentally. I have to smile and praise him for complying with changing environments. I have to see the judgement in people’s eyes. I have to deal the idea that they think My Little Guy is intruding. I have to assume that he knows none of this.

The above was what was going through my mind during a 15 minute train ride with a child who was not mine.  Although we had a bond, he was not my child. At the end of my shift, I could go home. Yet, I felt defensive and offended by TTC passengers that dared to judge My Little Guy. Imagine how a parent of an Autistic child feels, especially a parent with a young Autistic child who has only a few years of experience learning about Autism, their child and living with the constant and unwanted suggestions and advice of others.

Farida Peters and her son

Farida Peters, a Torontonian and a mother to a 5 year old Autistic boy decided to take matters into her own hands. She wears a sign on her backpack alerting TTC passengers, “My son is 5 years old and has autism. Please be patient with us”. The little boy, donned with a Minion toque and backpack walks hand-in-hand with his mother. Under the sign is the International Symbol of Access. For all you who are unfamiliar with this, and more familiar with “The blue handicap symbol thingy”:

People fail to understand the difficulties of redirecting behaviour in public for parents and caregivers of Autistic children. Peters received some backlash for her sign, as critics accuse her of labelling her child.

Hi Critics, hi… Okay, labelling is likely the last thing on Peters’ mind as she cares for her Autistic son and battles the judgemental stares, impatient sighs and people like the Catch Autism lady. What is the difference of this sign and the Access Parking Pass? You people are not okay with this sign, but okay with the ridiculous stick figure stickers on the back of minivans. You’re okay with “Baby on Board” signs… Shouldn’t drivers be cautious whether there is a baby on board or not. The sign serves has a warning to others, who fail to understand, who lack compassion, or who simply did not know. It’s education. Peters stated that all she wanted was safety and comfort. In the parenting world, safety and comfort at the two things parents want for their kids among others. Why is it NOT okay for Peters to ensure her child is safe? Parents buy safety devices to prevent their kids from getting in the toilet or cupboard or outlets. This is Peters’ safety device. And she made it.

Some people just need a big ass sign to put them in check.

Referenced Article:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stop the Shut Down: Hamilton CAS Takes a Stand

With so many social service members being laid off, the ultimate price is paid by the children that depend on social services. Hamilton Children's Aid Society has endured many cut backs and are feeling the pull from insufficient provincial funding. 

Below is a message from their Facebook group:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Provoke Me and I'm Allowed To Call You A N*GGER.

I am writing this letter to inform you of the justification of racial slurs and derogatory speech that continuously exists in school today. Despite blood, sweat and tears dedicated to creating a safe space for all individuals regardless of their social markers, a school prinicpal at Montclair Public School in Oakville finds that provoking a student justifies a retaliation of derogatory terms.

This week, a black male student in the eigth grade asked a white female student in the same grade why she was in school just to disrupt the lesson. She responded by calling him a nigg*r.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Baby Mama vs. Baby Mother

Apparently, you can make a list of the difference between Baby Mama and Baby Mother.

I asked various fathers that have one or more children with one or more women what the difference between a baby mother and a baby mama is. Here are the results:

One father wrote that a baby mama gives you a headache with all her nagging and just wants your money. A baby mother "gets her own bread" and doesn't bother you. I'm sure some may disagree with this and I do realize that some women may fit this nagging-headache category. However, on the topic of money and child support, since 2004, missed child support payments have increased 2%-3% each year. In addition, approximately 66% of cases require payments of $400 or less. For one child, that barely covers daycare, food or rent for a month.

63% of Ontario child support cases still active are in compliance which is quite high compared to Northwest Territories at 54%. Quebec has the highest compliance rate at 72%. Living in Ontario, if you were one of the mothers in the 37% group, wouldn't you be nagging about money too?

How many fathers do you know that plan their child's birthday parties? Planning and family care are also seen as a feminized role, and with this mentality, a mother's responsibility at an increase with familial duties. A father of three wrote that he has never planned his children's birthday parties or family events. The mother of his children buys supplies, does the cooking, cleaning, books venues and is in charge of the guest list among various other duties. He admits that he should take part more often but "just never has".

Some men tend to think that child care is primarily a woman's job. One father replied that he doesn't have to contribute to any familial responsibilities because the mother is responsible for that. She's "naturally" good at it.
Let me remind you that nurturing and caring of children is not a woman's "biological" trait. Parenting is a social skill and your biological make up is not an excuse to exclude yourself from parental responsibilities.

In addition to the responses I received, a one to one conversation with a father of a seven year old daughter and a 5 year old son was interesting. He believed that there isn't a difference between baby mama and baby mother.

"I guarantee you that the men labelling mothers as such and such don't have a good relationship with the kids... I mean not like the mother does.  I mean, they're proud fathers but... you know. And I bet you they've missed out on their kids more than they've been there. I bet you that those [men] with a baby mama as opposed to a baby mother doesn't help out as much as he could and makes stupid mistakes and stupid excuses. I bet you he puts himself first. My father was in my life for a total of probably 6 months. He wasn't there when I was born, he was out at his friend's party or something. I'm 33 years old now and I have two little ones. My daughter's mom and I have a shitty relationship but when it comes to the kids we're cool. Me and their mom just don't talk, you know? Only about the kids, which is cool because we keep it civil for them. She works and I work and we're fine splitting everything evenly, as best as possible. We have a set schedule and I don't f*ck up that schedule because I wanna go out with friends or something.
He [dad] used to call my mom a nagging b*tch. My mom worked 2 jobs back to back for 14 years. She never asked him for a penny and never did anything that would be seen as nagging. The only time I remember her getting mad at him was when he would miss birthdays. But in his eyes, she's a baby mama".

Men see baby mama drama as a woman's problem. They believe that she is being irrational with her claims and her premises are discounted to nagging and overreacting. Can all of these men truly say that what they say and what they do are consistent? Can they say that they spend time with their children close to the amount of time that the mother does? Can they say that they have been responsible parents?

No doubt there are women out there that have lied about pregnancy, who the father is, and have used their child to cling on to a man. We don't need Maury to know that. Despite what you may believe, there are great fathers out there that puts himself aside just as he expects the mother to, for the sake of their children. Yet, regardless of the marital status of both parents, in the end, their actions impact their children and how they will see parenting in the future. The children's concept of family and parenting are moulded by their own parents and living situations. To break that idea of what a parent's responsibility is is hard to break once they've lived it.

Another father wrote that a baby mama doesn't take care of her children and only gets things for herself like new clothes, mani/pedi etc. A baby mother has a job, puts her children first and finds time for them.
What I don't understand about this particular father is that he does not have a job and spends less than 4 hours a week with his children. Yet, he feels completely comfortable with his responses and justifies his lack of providing a father figure with a shrug and some alpha male remarks. The mother of his children works 8-10 hour days at a hospital and she has them in daycare because he has not contributed to either watching the children or for daycare payments.  I'll just leave you to think about that for a second...

So this must mean there is a difference between a baby daddy and baby father too? How many baby fathers do you know?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Teach the Teacher

For all of you parents out there concerned about your child's education...

I'm not a parent, but I'm a caregiver. I think that being parents, you're worried about so much and rely on educators, doctors and talk show hosts to tell you how to raise your child. How about telling your child how they will be educated?

Not About The Damn Skittles

After the verdict on George Zimmerman was revealed, the world, the people and the media took to social networks to vent.

All I saw was a lot of anger and a lot of people misinformed about what it means to be a person of colour. I saw many people claim that the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case was NOT about race.

What the hell was it about then? Skittles?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Negotiating Biculturalism

“How much is the parrot?” a woman asked.“Wow, ma’am,” uttered the owner, “this is a very expensive parrot, because he speaks both Spanish and English.”
“Oh really?
Can you get him to speak in both languages?”
“Sure you can. Look, it’s quite simple:
If you pull the left leg he speaks English.” And he pulled the parrot’s left leg. “Good
morning,” said the bird. “And if you pull the right leg like this, he speaks Spanish.”
And the parrot said: “Buenos Dias!”
At which point the woman asked: “What happens if you pull both of his legs, will he speak Tex-Mex?” “Noooo,” answered the parrot, “I will fall on my ass.”