Monthly Archives: December 2009

Unofficial Holiday Hiatus

I didn’t get around to blogging at all last week on account of being at my parents’ house in Ottawa, drinking champagne and wrapping (and unwrapping) presents. Radical Bookworm will return this week once I get around to writing something, but until then, here is a picture of a Labradoodle wearing plastic antlers.

The Labradoodle in question is my parents’ dog, Lola. She wasn’t too thrilled about the antlers, but she was a pretty good sport anyway. It’s been just over 24 hours since I left Ottawa and I miss her terribly.


The Worst Thing About Sam Schulman

My fellow progressives, I would like you to meet Sam Schulman, author of this atrocious article about gay marriage (found via the Feministing community). Unlike those silly, silly religious folk, Mr. Schulman has a completely rational, not at all ridiculous argument against gay marriage! You see, according to Sam Schulman, The Worst Thing About Gay Marriage (that is actually the title of the article. I am not making this up) is not that it defies divine law, but that it doesn’t perform the essential roles that marriage plays in maintaining the kinship system.

Note to Mr. Schulman: next time you use the kinship system as the foundation of an argument, you might want to ensure that your understanding of kinship is not 2000 years out of date! Just a suggestion.

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Merry War on Christmas, Heathens

I haven’t had much to write this week, mostly because I’ve been spending most of my time trying not to suck at my job, an effort which my neighbours seem intent on sabotaging with their incredibly loud voices and their unwillingness to go to bed at a decent hour and let me get some sleep. Mostly I’ve been consoling myself with reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation and constant reminders that I only have two more weeks of work before I get to run away to Ottawa to drink wine and hang out with my parents and their dog. My parents used to stress me out a lot, but generally speaking, the past few years have been good. They’ve retired, I’ve started my adult life (sort of), and we’ve all mellowed out quite a lot. The one thing I am dreading, though, is the inevitable annual debate about the evils of Political Correctness and the War on Christmas.

My parents have always been liberal and fairly open-minded. Generally speaking, our politics are fairly similar, although they’re not as into the whole feminist thing as I am (my father, in particular, always seems to take my rants about gender as a personal attack). There are moments, though, when I realize that despite their generally liberal rhetoric, in many ways they Just Don’t Get It. Every holiday season (see what I did there? Oh yes, I am a godless communist) one of them goes on some rant about how it’s so terrible that you’re not allowed to say “Merry Christmas” anymore, and don’t people realize that Canada is a Christian country, why are we letting political correctness destroy our culture, and so on. And despite my aversion to drama, I just can’t help but argue and tell them that no, actually, you’re allowed to say whatever you want, but Canada is not in fact a Christian country, and needless to say it all goes downhill from there. Last year, this ended with my mother being very upset because she had become convinced that I hated Christmas.

There are many things that I don’t understand about people’s obsession with this imaginary War on Christmas, but there’s one in particular that confuses the hell out of me. Because here’s the thing about using exclusionary language and refusing to acknowledge religious and cultural diversity: IT’S RUDE. It has broader social implications than, say, refusing to say “please” or “thank you”, but on a basic, individual level, it’s just rude. And so often the people who are so enraged about multiculturalism’s supposed assault on all things Christmas-related are the same people who constantly decry the decline of politeness among people of my generation. When I was growing up, my parents made sure that I always fulfilled the polite-Canadian stereotype, and I think they were right to do so. Politeness is important. Yet apparently for some people, it is only important when it doesn’t interfere with your ability to ignore your WASP privilege. It really saddens me to see otherwise reasonable people cling so tightly to privilege, as if acknowledging and respecting diversity were in some way a loss. As if validating other people’s cultural experiences in some way invalidated one’s own.

Well, I hate to break it to you, Mom and Dad, but there is no PC police. You can say whatever you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that if you do so with no regard for anyone else’s feelings, people will probably think you’re a bit of a douchebag. If your right to be a douche matters more to you than, say, respecting others, go right ahead. Personally, I think I’ll keep sending my non-denominational holiday cards, if that’s all right with you.

New and Improved Gender Norms, Now with 30% More Sparkles

I recently became aware or something profoundly disturbing: I am becoming obsessed with Twilight. Not the books themselves (which I have not read, and would be embarrassed to be seen with in public) or the movies (which are hilariously bad and would probably make for a great drinking game) but the much larger, scarier entity that is Twlight-the-cultural-phenomenon. I can’t get enough of it. Critiques of the series’ glorification of abusive relationships and fetishization of abstinence make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (in, you know, a righteous feminist way). Good old-fashioned snark, no matter how repetitive, gets me every time. And for the life of me, I can’t stop staring at that goddamn sparkly freezer dildo. This kind of thing is quickly becoming, in the immortal words of a certain Mr. Edward Cullen, my own personal brand of heroin (I tried to find a way to work “this is the skin of a killer into that sentence, but to no avail). I have even gone so far as to watch the movies. And yes, the dialogue is so bad that the actors sound embarrassed to be saying it, and there’s very little plot to speak of, but goddamn, they are fascinating.

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