I might dress up as the U.S. presidential election for Halloween, because it is the most frightening thing I can bring to mind right now.
Over the last few months there has been a lot of speculation about how Trump could have possibly gotten this far, how his defenders could be so incredibly gullible as to believe all of the backpedaling and denials about every second thing that comes out of his mouth. But this is a mistake. They are not gullible. What I have begun to realize is that it’s not that Trump supporters don’t understand what kind of a person he really is. And it’s not that they don’t care what he is. They support him precisely because of what he is.
Many of the people planning to vote for Trump are doing so because they love the fact that he’s a racist, sexist, xenophobic, lewd loudmouth. These are people who want to return to an age when white men could make horribly racist and misogynist remarks without any repercussions. When women, people of colour, gay people, or anyone else at the bottom of the power paradigm were openly bullied into silence. These are people who are seething with rage and resentment because they believe that they are the ones who have been shamed into silence by an overly “PC” world where their intolerance is not tolerated. Trump’s rise is giving them implicit permission to shake off the very thin veneer of civility that has been keeping them in check. Because if a Presidential candidate can say it, why shouldn’t they? Who’s going to stop them now?
It is bad enough that this man, this idol of entitled bigotry, has gotten as far as he already has. That in itself has caused enough damage. The thought that he could win, and turn this sickening wave of violent oppression into a tsunami, is one of the most alarming prospects I have faced in my own lifetime.
A Plea to Undecided and Third-Party Voters
It isn’t Trump himself that concerns me most at this point – yes, he’s a narcissistic bully, but actually just kind of pitiful. And it isn’t really even his hardcore followers that I’m worried about – I believe they are a very loud minority. It is the people who don’t like him, but who aren’t aware of how his manipulations are still swaying their perceptions, that make me fearful for the outcome of this election.
To those voters who are on the fence, or who think it’s a better option to vote for a third party, please, please hear this: If you have been led to believe that Hillary Clinton is as bad of an option as Trump, or that she is somehow less trustworthy or less principled than literally any other major public political figure in the entire history of Western civilization, you have been successfully indoctrinated by the Trump lobby’s smear campaign.
I’m not saying that Clinton is a saint. She is a typical politician. All people who reach such high positions of power, pretty much without exception, are ruthlessly ambitious and prone to modulating their stances to conform to the current social climate. So why is Clinton facing so much backlash compared to the legions of her predecessors? Two reasons: 1) she is a woman, and women in positions of power are always subjected to much higher scrutiny than their male peers, and 2) she is unfortunate enough to find herself in competition with an actual sociopathic liar. It is exceptionally clear that Trump has no qualms about making up whatever bullshit serves his purpose, and this should absolutely be taken into account when considering how he may be influencing the public’s view of his opponent’s character.
Clinton may not be perfect, but she is certainly no worse than almost any other President you have had in office since the beginning of Confederation. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is an actual nightmare. This is not a contest between two equally objectionable candidates. This is a contest between the status quo, and a steep and terrifying slide into a cesspool of hatred. Trump must be stopped. There is only one way to do that. Please, Americans – make the right choice.
ATTENTION: This post is for CANADIANS. There will be no discussion of anyone named Hillonald Trunton or Donary Climp. Or whatever.
If however you are indeed a Canadian voter with queasy memories of last October’s Truper / Hardeau showdown, read on!
(Wait, that’s JonBenet Ramsey’s brother. Why does JonBenet Ramsey’s brother look like the love child of Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau?)
…to let the Canadian government know your opinions about how our voting system should work. The survey is only up until this Friday, October 7th. Click the link! DO IT! Doooooooo it. Please?
One of these days I will get around to writing a post longer than ten sentences. Thank you for your time.
Though it may seem that I have emerged from months of radio silence merely to post a celebrity fluff piece, in actual fact I have been doing important science. HOURS of researching Kate McKinnon YouTube videos. FOR SCIENCE. And I believe I have incontestable proof that this captivating weirdo of Ghostbusters renown is only pretending to be a human who loves cats to cover up the factual truth: she herself is a Felis domesticus playing a clever game of cat-and-mouse with the entire Internet’s heart.
On to the Proof
Exhibit A: Who do you know that acts like this? Cats, that’s who.
Exhibit C: I mean
Exhibit D: Was this comment a slip, or an intentional clue?
(Even Ellen pointed out the family resemblance.)
Exhibit F: Definitely toying with us.
Your name may be an anagram of “Kit Kan Con Men”, but we are on to you, Kate McKinnon.
Or should I say KAT MCKINNON
Over the last few days I’ve been approaching my Facebook newsfeed with trepidation, because I find it disturbing to be subjected to the image of a rapist’s smug face over and over again. I understand the reasons people are posting these images and I certainly share their outrage, but I just personally don’t want to have to look at him.
Having said that, it recently came to my attention that Facebook removed one of the most prolific of these images that stated: “My name is Brock / I’m a rapist”.
Let me repeat that: Facebook removed an image of a convicted rapist for stating that he is a rapist. No matter how I personally feel about having to look at this meme, it is appalling that it was forcibly taken down. The image was subsequently reinstated after public outcry, but that does not diminish the fact that taking it down in the first place was an entirely fucked up yet completely unsurprising decision, from an organization with a long history of making fucked up decisions about what does and does not count as appropriate content.
A while back, I reported a Facebook user’s comment that literally encouraged the rape of another commenter’s daughter. Facebook’s initial reply? “We reviewed the comment you reported for promoting graphic violence and found it doesn’t violate our Community Standards.”
Facebook’s Community Standards: A-ok with promoting rape, not so much with stating the fact that a rapist is a rapist.
This is what rape culture looks like.
A while back I decided that I was no longer going to engage with the type of person who thinks rape culture doesn’t exist, on the same grounds that I would not engage with someone who doesn’t believe the Earth is round: the validity of the facts is no longer up for debate, and contrary opinions do not have enough value to be taken seriously. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
But I am going to take one more kick at the can here, because this Stanford case seems to have hit a nexus of visibility and scandal that for once falls on the right side of the accuser. For those who might still struggle to understand the concept, the term “rape culture” does not mean a culture where everyone rapes, or every man rapes, or rape is legal, or rape is openly supported by most people.
Instead, rape culture is made up of the subtle, subliminal, pervasive messages found everywhere in our society that rape isn’t a big deal, rapists will be lightly punished if at all, and rape victims are partly to blame for what happens to them.
Rape culture is Facebook’s knee-jerk decisions to suppress messages that support victims and allow messages that enable rapists – decisions that are only reversed after an outcry that might affect their public image. Rape culture is when a convicted rapist in an absolutely clear-cut case with two credible witnesses can walk away with a six-month sentence, and some people still feel sorry for him.
The Earth is round, pigs can’t fly, and rape culture is real.
First of all, fellow Canadians: thank you. Thank you for sending a loud and clear message that blatant racism and fearmongering does not win elections in this country.
We heaved Steve (and then some). But our work is not done.
TO THE LIBERAL PARTY, NEWLY-ELECTED PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU, AND LOCAL MPs:
Congratulations on your majority win.
You might be feeling pretty comfortable right now. Not only did you upset the Conservative regime, you surged ahead to take 54% of the seats in the House.
With only 40% of the vote.
The system seems to have worked well for you. You can do whatever you want for the next four years, even though less than half of voters support you.
In fact, this is a more tenuous victory than it seems. Make no mistake—we are watching you carefully.
We did not vote for a party. We did not vote for you. We voted for change.
The Conservatives abused their unearned majority, and have now felt the sting of our backlash. The same can happen to you, if you do not hold to your promises:
“We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.
We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting.
This committee will deliver its recommendations to Parliament. Within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.”
WE ARE THE CANADIAN ELECTORATE WHO BROUGHT YOU TO POWER, AND WE DEMAND ELECTORAL REFORM.
We demand that our voices be heard.
We demand fair representation.
We are paying attention.
Canada, going purely by the numbers, is a left-leaning country. About two-thirds of Canadians prefer policies on the liberal side of the spectrum. And since we’re a democracy, where the government is formed according to the will of the people, our current government reflects this, right?
The system we use to elect our federal representatives is defective. I won’t get into how or why, because it doesn’t matter—what matters is this: In 2011, only 39% of voters voted for a party that ended up with 53% of the seats in the House of Commons. This is not just screwy and frustrating. It is undemocratic.
What this means is that, for nearly two-thirds of Canadian voters, we have one of two choices:
1) Normal voting: Vote for the party we like best. Likely result: The party we like least will probably win.
2) Strategic voting: Vote for the party most likely to beat the one we like least. Likely result: The winner might be our second- or third-favourite, but at least they’re not the worst.
Both of these options suck balls.
I hate voting for a party that has no chance of winning, and I hate compromising and voting for a less-awesome party. In the past, I’ve always thought, well, I have to vote for what I think is right. Maybe, eventually, by the time I’m 97 or so, things will start to change. Sigh.
In 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011 I used this approach and voted for my favourite—and watched my vote go down the toilet. My lofty and righteous values not only had no impact whatsoever on moving the government towards my ideals—in 2011, my vote in fact helped to elect the party I like least to a majority, so they had free rein to wreck the country for the next four years.
It felt pretty demoralizing. And it made me realize that I am not a member of a true democracy.
HOWEVER! This year, things can be different.
This year, finally, we have a commitment from the three left-leaning parties that they will work together to change our broken voting system. That means, if we can at the very least stop the Conservative party from getting a majority…
NOBODY WILL EVER AGAIN HAVE TO VOTE STRATEGICALLY.
We will get proportional representation, which means that 39% of votes = 39% of seats. Not 53%. It means we can vote for our favourites, and it will actually help them win seats in the House. It means we can stop feeling guilty for helping the worst party in Canadian history to win a majority.
BUT, for this to happen, this year, we must vote strategically one last time to make sure the other parties have the chance to do what they have promised.
It’s like a chess game. We need to think two steps ahead to the future. For example, are you a supporter of the Greens? Consider this:
Voting strategically this year will ultimately help your favourite party more in the long run.
Here are a couple of objections I’ve heard, and my responses:
- “Strategic voting is unethical, because you should vote according to your conscience.”
I am voting according to my conscience. I believe that electoral reform is the single most important issue in this election, and will have the greatest impact on our effectiveness as a democracy. I am voting for the long-term future of my country.
- “Strategic voting is undemocratic.”
As mentioned above, it is our current first-past-the-post system that is undemocratic. Strategic voting is an imperfect response to a broken system. We have the chance to fix the system and ensure that nobody has to compromise again.
- “Politicians never keep their promises.”
We can only go by a party’s stated platform when choosing who to vote for. This is a big issue for a lot of voters, and once the election is over we can put major pressure on the parties to fulfill their promise.
- “All the political parties are the same anyway.”
I disagree, but even if you truly believe that, let me ask you this: Do you think it’s fair that a certain % of votes should equal the same % of seats? If yes, please get out there just this once and vote for fairness.
I have a small dilemma – I want to write about the 50 Shades of Grey craze, but I don’t want to spend an iota of my time either reading the book or watching the film, as I personally have less than zero interest in heteronormative narratives about aggressive and controlling men. So I will freely acknowledge my ignorance about the content of the book/film, and will try to avoid making assumptions about it – but I do have plenty to say about people’s reactions to it.
Here are the issues at hand: 50SOG is a hugely successful story that is said to glorify rape and abuse; some people think this means all straight women secretly want domineering alpha-male husbands; some people fear this is teaching impressionable youths terrible things about relationships; some people say “It’s just fiction, get over it, man”. Usually I wish to immerse the latter type of person in a roiling hell-vat of tone-deaf hippie kazoo buskers, but in this case they are kind of on to something. Kind of.
Fiction can be a type of fantasy; fiction about sex can be one way to express sexual fantasies. And here is a fact that causes very much consternation, discomfort and dismay: a lot of people, including women, do in fact have fantasies about rape. A LOT of people. Even feminist people. It is perfectly normal. (Wait, let me restate that with absolute clarity: having rape fantasies is perfectly normal and acceptable. Actual rape is not.)
This is a truth that many people find troubling to contemplate, and with good reason! It brings up a lot of uncomfortable questions, sometimes for the selfsame people having the fantasies. How can someone be pro-gender equality, pro-consent, anti-rape culture… and enjoy fantasizing about rape? How can this be okay? How can these two things be reconciled inside the same mind?
I believe the answer lies in picking apart the underlying assumption that fantasies are always something a person would want to fully experience in real life. They are not – and this is especially true of sexual fantasies, particularly for women. People fantasize about all kinds of things they would not actually do – some monogamous spouses fantasize about people outside of their marriage, some vanilla people fantasize about wild swinger orgies, some lesbians fantasize about watching gay men having sex.
But let’s consider the likelihood that some people having rape fantasies actually do wish for an element of force or ravishment in their real-life sex. This is still no reason for concern. Like BDSM (or even as an element of BDSM), most people who act out these kinds of fantasies prefer to do so under mutual consent. Since rape is by definition sex without consent, rape fantasies played out would have to be a type of roleplay. That is to say, women fantasizing about rape are not actually wishing for some random sicko to chase them down and brutalize them; in fact, they are very probably fantasizing about people they are legitimately attracted to, and desire sex from in ways that they agree to.
Furthermore, as with BDSM roles, what happens in the bedroom is not necessarily indicative of what goes on in daily life. Two people can have a very strong submissive-dominant dynamic between the sheets, but roles which are much more egalitarian, or even reversed, in their day-to-day interactions. The argument that the popularity of 50SOG proves that women want to be kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen is simple nonsense.
So let’s get to the heart of the matter. It is my opinion that 50 Shades of Grey is likely not intended as an endorsement of patriarchal stereotypes or unhealthy relationship patterns, but simply as a rape fantasy brought to screen. The popularity of rape fantasies themselves thus explains the book and the film’s success. There are lots and lots of other titillating stories out there in a similar vein – the entire genre of romance fiction, read mostly by women, contains plenty of allusions to sexual domination and coercion. 50SOG is no more a reflection of an average real-life relationship than is any other outlandish romance novel or film.
The problem is that, without the consent being explicitly shown, it is true that there are some people who will get the wrong idea; yet if the consent is shown, the fantasy is shattered. Nobody would want to watch it, for the same reason that nobody wants to watch safe sex practices in porn – it simply isn’t as exciting when the cogs and gears behind the façade are on display. Movies are all about suspending reality and maintaining the illusion. This one is no different.
I’m certainly not arguing that there is no valid reason to be concerned about how this film might affect uninformed or impressionable people. If Jian Ghomeshi had watched it, I’m sure he’d have felt even more justified in his behaviour. There is always a problem when fantasy becomes confused with reality, and there are certainly those who have a tendency to muddle or ignore the boundaries between the two.
So what should happen? It is good and important that there are critical conversations happening around this film, but I am concerned about the direction some of them are taking. Shaming people for what they like is never productive. Rather than taking the tone “THIS IS BAD AND GROSS AND YOU’RE BAD IF YOU LIKE IT”, maybe instead we could start to talk openly about rape fantasies, violence fantasies, and other taboo topics – maybe we could begin to educate each other in more healthy ways about the variety and complexity of human sexuality.