Dear Men: Fuck You

Dear men:

Fuck you. All of you. I have had enough of your gender. Yes, your entire gender. Yes, even the men in my life that I love. If you identify as a man, I just want you to go away to a place where I don’t have to interact with you for a very long time. Or at least until tomorrow when I’ve caught my breath and no longer feel so much fury at all the terrible things that you do.

Up here in Canada, it recently came out that a very popular radio show host, Jian Ghomeshi, sexually abused women for years. The news broke when Ghomeshi penned an open letter on Facebook after being fired from the CBC, framing the situation as one of being discriminated against for the consensual sexual activities he liked to partake in. However, what followed was a media storm revealing that there were many women claiming to have been abused by him, going back decades.

The media conversations about this event have been mostly positive in terms of promoting gender equality and combatting sexism. The newspapers are filled with stories about rape myths, the problems women encounter when reporting their assaults, and the methods men use to diminish their crimes. However, despite all of the amazing reporting that is going on, I have been witness to so many terrible debates and arguments that I am ready to explode, and that is why I am done with men.

The Ghomeshi debate has been a popular topic on Facebook, and this is where my patience started to wear thin. For every repost of a great article, there are dozens of ignorant and hurtful comments that tried to reframe the entire Ghomeshi situation to be about men. After reading abhorrent comment number 659,432, I decided I was done. I just couldn’t take another iteration of any of the following complaints. (If this was a drinking game, my liver would have been declared dead by now.) Thus, dearest men, if you say any of these things, please stop. Please go away.

  1. Declare that men are raped too! Argue that feminists don’t care about this, and until they do, they are evil and worthless and everyone should hate them.
    1. If the subject of men advocating for themselves is brought up, state that feminists should do it or are preventing it from happening or men just can’t emasculate themselves in public this way.
    2. If someone mentions that feminists do work on male sexual assault, deny or ignore this claim. Or blame feminists again. (Because logical arguments aren’t winning arguments!)
  2. Emphasise the need to be OBJECTIVE (as defined by not believing them crazy women folk).
    1. Objectivity means finding the one sentence uttered by a victim that can be spun into supporting the idea that the rapist is actually an okay dude. And if someone doesn’t pay attention to that one sentence (that in context actually doesn’t support the idea that the rapist was an okay dude), then tell them they are using “Fox News” tactics, and are contributing to a biased and discriminatory conversation.
    2. Do not realise that your definition of objectivity means that the voice of one man must be weighed more heavily than the voices of ten victims because they have reasons to lie while he is just defending himself.
  3. Claim that this whole situation isn’t about rape. Rape requires penetration/force/maybe sometimes a hand/something else fundamentally incorrect.
    1. NOTE: Sexual assault in Canada is any unwanted sexual touching. No penetration is needed. Hell, there are times when genital contact is not needed. Sexual assault is a broad term encompassing a lot of terrible behaviour. The details about Ghomeshi’s behaviour fall squarely into sexual assault territory. Cite: Myself, a legal academic who specialises in sexual assault and finds herself repeating these words far too often lately.
  4. Ignore the women involved in any Ghomeshi conversation. Assure fellow male commentators that you respect their opinions even if they differ.
  5. Begin your comment by claiming that you are willing to be labelled a misogynist just so you can make sure that the conversation doesn’t become biased. You’ll totally take one for the team and withstand the feminist abuse.
  6. Make any mention of a “feminist-dominated” society. (As proven by the fact that the media is talking about a man who sexually assaulted and physically and emotionally abused the women in his life for over two decades without repercussions despite his behaviour being common knowledge).
  7. Blame women for not reporting their assaults as to not do so must mean that they are liars.
  8. Be enraged that all the articles you read are blaming all men for rape. #notallmen!!!
    1. Further argue that rape culture is ridiculous, and all men hate rape. Rape culture victimises men, and it’s all the fault of feminists!
  9. Contend that this whole situation was about people into alternative sexual practices who just didn’t talk things through enough. It wasn’t rape or abuse. It was just a mistake!
    1. Add to your argument by stating that “the government shouldn’t be involved in the bedrooms of the nation”, and pat yourself on the back for quoting someone famous. Even if the government isn’t involved in the conversation at all.
  10. Assert that everyone has the right to be presumed innocent, and fight against the unfair court of public opinion!
    1. Watch as all criminal law people in the vicinity start twitching uncontrollably, explaining once again that no one has a right to a presumption of innocence outside the criminal justice system, and how does that even make any sense, and besides, there is no standard of innocence, it’s only “not guilty”, and then distressed keening.

The above is not an exhaustive list of all the exhausting arguments I have seen/heard put forth in the past week regarding sexual assault and feminism. Neither are the comments exaggerated. Every single one of them was pulled from a conversation that I witnessed.

Now, before anyone says that I should just calm down and ignore all the douchebags, I want to assert that I can’t. I am not seeking out these comments. They are all over my Facebook feed. On Twitter. In real life conversations. I hear them on buses, in cafes, and really anywhere where at least two people can be talking about current events. The only way I can protect my ears, eyes, and heart from these odious comments would be to cut men out of my existence. Thus, this is why I am asking everyone who is male identifying to just disappear for a bit. For those men who do not suck, for all the male feminists and allies, consider this part of your responsibility to the cause. Sometimes being an activist sucks, but c’est la vie. You can use your time to teach feminism 101 to the others.

So, fuck men. Fuck you and your collective inability to be decent human beings. Sure, there are women who suck, and there are people on other, far flung parts of the gender spectrum who suck, but right now, there’s a plethora of male-identifying assholes who need to go away as they are taking up the most space and saying the worst things. There are plenty of unoccupied islands on this planet, go hang out on one of them for a bit until you’re ready to be something other than abjectly terrible. Or more likely, until my rage dies down and I can respond to your endless discrimination and cruelty with something other than a great desire to sob.

Fuck you, men of the world.

Sincerely,

Maggie Gordon

Gender and the Supreme Court of Canada: Why Justice Nadon’s Appointment is a Blow to Gender Equality in Canada

Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada, and it is a sad day for gender equality. Some may argue that Justice Nadon was simply the most qualified applicant for the job, but the discussion about today’s appointment is not that simple. Canada’s top judges are all extremely intelligent and accomplished people. It is difficult to rank them according to a hierarchy of talent. Justice Nadon was a Quebec appointee, and there are currently two very knowledgeable and practiced women judges from this province that were expected to receive this appointment (one of them being Justice Marie-France Bich). And yet, somehow the very privileged white man is deemed the top candidate by another very privileged white man. This isn’t an issue of picking the absolute best candidate, but of gender inequality.

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In Memory of Jack Layton



Today a great Canadian man was lost when Jack Layton passed away in the early hours of the morning. While not perfect, he dedicated his life to bringing justice and equality to Parliament Hill and to shaping Canada into a better nation. He died after leading the NDP to their largest Canadian victory, seeing them become the official opposition of our federal government and giving millions of Canadians hope for a more just Canada. He was a man who loved his country and loved people.

I send my heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends and wish them peace in the difficult days to come. I sincerely hope that Jack’s party will honour him by rising up and continuing their work to make Canada into a better, fairer, kinder nation.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Jack signed all of his emails with a Tommy Douglas quote and I think we could all learn from the words that inspired him so: “Courage my friends, it’s never too late to build a better world.” To both Jack and Tommy, we hear you and we promise to pick up the torch. Rest in soft peace.

Update: Jack gave a letter to his wife, Olivia Chow, before passing. I have included some of his inspiring words below and you can find the entire letter here.

“And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Thank you Jack, for everything.

Gestational Limits on Abortion in Canada: Disproving Anti-Choice Rhetoric

One of my least favourite anti-choice tactics is the claim that a newly born baby is only one day safe from being murdered by abortion. You see this idea pop up on bill boards and pamphlets all the time, particularly in Canada as we have no federal law regulating abortion. However, all this claim really shows is how misinformed and cruel the anti-choice side can be.

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In the Aftermath of Women’s World 2011

This past week I attended Women’s World 2011, an international conference on women’s issues held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. In the weeks leading up to the event, I was really excited about the fact that I was going to join together with a large group of fellow feminists to talk about an assortment of important and often neglected issues. As the conference drew to a close, however, my thoughts did not settle on the benefits of sisterly bonding, but on how Women’s World needs to engage in some serious discussions on inclusion and oppression.

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Celebrating Persons Day with a Caveat

Hey there, internet world! Law school is still eating my life, but something happened yesterday that I thought I would share.

In Canada, October 18th is Persons Day. It is the celebration of when women were declared to be “persons” under the law. Beforehand women were “… persons in matters of pains and penalties, but [were] not persons in matters of rights and privileges”. This was major turning point in Canadian legal history for gender equality and many of my Facebook friends were celebrating by posting status updates and links. I did as well, but as I pressed send, I internally paused and wondered whether or not this was appropriate. The Persons case was a massively important milestone for Canadian women, but it did not necessarily include all women.

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One Step Forward, Too Many Back

TRIGGER WARNING: Images of trafficked/kidnapped women experiencing emotional turmoil (second part of the post)

  1. I. The Good: Jacob, the Canadian clothing company, decides to stop retouching their fashion photography

Jacob, a Canadian based fashion retailer, announced this month that it will no longer be digitally altering the bodies of its fashion models in all of their promotional material for the upcoming fall season. To see a popular retailer (in Canada, at least) decide to implement such a controversial change is rather heartening. Admittedly, the company’s choice was made easier thanks to the recent moves towards some body acceptance being made by the magazine industry, as well as increasing demands for realism of body sizes from consumers. Regardless of their motivations, if Jacob adheres to its promises, this is a positive change in the fashion community as long as the company does not turn to using ever thinner models to achieve what Photoshop once did for them.

Is this move to less photo manipulation perfect? Certainly not. The company is still going retouch colours and skin textures, including the erasure of scars and tattoos. The idea that such common and/or natural traits are seen as making a photo imperfect rather than simply reflecting real individuals wearing the company’s clothing is rather disconcerting. Furthermore, the clothing company itself certainly does not support a particularly wide range of body sizes. The last time I stepped into the store, I could not fit anything other than tee-shirts and I am only a size fourteen. On the other hand, there are times when I take what I can get and I look forward to seeing Jacob’s fall campaign to see how well they have implemented their promises.

  1. II. The Terrible Beyond Comprehension: Suitcase Stickers and “Joking” about Abducted Women (Trigger warning begins here)

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