Saturday, March 26, 2016

Guideposts for Women Travellers

There are sharp bends
in the climb
from Marriage's End 
to New Beginnings

Mutual friends
are people and spaces
where elephants
dwell in every room

The shallows 
of conventional courtesies
are incompatible
with awkward truths

Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, said the voice on the radio. She descended the stairs toward the tableau she knew was being staged in the living room awaiting her appearance in the scene, and she was ready. She hadn’t rehearsed, hadn’t known exactly what to expect, but she was confident she could extemporize. So many iterations of various scripts had played out in her mind, she knew she would rise to the occasion. 

She entered the living room and saw him sitting wearily on the sofa frowning woefully, the deep grooves of his furrowed brow intentionally exaggerated. “Just look at us,” she said. “Neither one of us is happy. We really have to face the fact that we can’t go on like this. This marriage hasn’t worked for ages. Let’s agree that it’s over. We’ll both be happier apart. I’m sure we’ll get along much better and might even become friends again. One of us has to leave, and soon. If you don’t go, I will.” 

That wasn’t at all what he had been expecting.

Tubes, truths and trials

It would say a lot about a man who already had fathered a child from unprotected intercourse, that he would be nearing his fifties without ever having learned to use a condom

It would say a lot about a man that he would cancel his subscription to the Wellness Newsletter because it reported, without any ambiguity, that there is no health-related reason to prevent a man from having a vasectomy, a safer procedure than tubal ligation

It would say a lot about a man that his wife nearing her fifties, after years taking the pill, after years wearing a coil, after years bearing children, would have to suggest that to prevent another pregnancy, it should now be his turn to be responsible for contraception, if he cannot forego his sexual expectations

It would say a lot about a man should he refuse and then accuse that she’s cold and uncaring and in need of sexual healing for her problems and her choices

It would say women’s bodies, women’s issues, are women’s problems
Especially if he were to joke, "You'll be pregnant in no time"
Especially if he were to protest, “I never told anyone I was a feminist”

I have never known that man

Friday, June 13, 2014

U of Ottawa prof Joanne St Lewis wins libel case against former colleague

Damages of $350,000 awarded in damages for "house negro" slur

This summary of Chris Cobb's article in the Ottawa Citizen is from Academica Top Ten 9 June 2014:
 uOttawa prof wins libel case against former colleague: Joanne St Lewis, a University of Ottawa law professor, has won a libel suit against former colleague Denis Rancourt and been awarded $350,000 in damages. St Lewis charged that Rancourt had used a racial slur to describe her on his blog. She said the slur “was like having a knife inserted and ripping through my life. He really didn’t expect or understand that it would feel that way to me, and that it would empower me to pursue the claim in the way I did.” The defendant boycotted much of the trial, describing it as a “kangaroo court,” but was present for the ruling. Justice Michel Charbonneau will now decide whether or not to impose injunctions against Rancourt that would require him to not defame St Lewis again, to remove all offending material from his blog and Internet search engines, and to have no further contact with her. St Lewis’ lawyer has also asked Justice Charbonneau to initiate contempt proceedings against Rancourt. Ottawa Citizen

Friday, March 21, 2014

Technology and Culture

"Cognitive computing is smashing our conception of ‘ground truth’"

This article on the place and limitations of technology makes for interesting reading. It also provides much food for thought. 

There is general agreement that the tools we create also reshape our brains. The more we depend on smart machines for cognitive functions like computing and drawing conclusions, the less we use on our brains for these functions, and the less capable our brains become. It usually takes time for this decline to come to light.

If this is true, it will also apply to doctors. So it may appear contradictory that we should rely on the assurance high tech gives us, but want to believe doctors will primarily rely on their brains for thinking and use their machines as tools.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Colonialism today

Is there room for empathy in Eurocentricity?

Western perspectives characteristically zero in on individual responsibility when looking at problems and social issues experienced by Aboriginal Canadians. Non-Western perspectives tend to look at the whole picture through historical and cultural perspectives. 

Add a small dose of empathy and a dash of historical perspective to Eurocentrism and it's not that difficult to "get" what the role of colonialism has been in many modern-day tragedies that on the surface appear to be caused by lawlessness and lack of individual responsibility. It's often rather difficult for those who enjoy privileges in today's society to make a minimum effort. They don't have to. It's easier and feels better to be sanctimoniously dismissive.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Language, education, and Rachel Jeantel

In "Rachel Jeantel’s lack of literacy is a societal problem," Jennifer Oliver O'Connell writes that "Rachel Jeantel’s testimony on the witness stand during the George Zimmerman murder trial was cringe-inducing, embarrassing, and mortifying to watch."
From the title of the article, I had expected it to mention the societal problems related to the inequities and inadequacies of education systems in a highly racialized society. It doesn't. 
Instead, it's a celebration of exceptional individuals and families who "made it" and a condemnation of the multitudes like Rachel Jeantel whose languages and lives are low-status indicators. 
The total lack of empathy is revealing of a disposition that judges, dehumanizes and is intent on distancing the judging eye from the "other." 
It also reveals the stark class divide between self-satisfied achievers and the grassroots whose languages and lives have no place or rights in the legal systems where they are disparagingly over-represented.