Tag Archives: women

Women in Horror Month: Nancy Kilpatrick

Continuing to highlight Canadian fiction writers for Women in Horror Month I have Canada’s grande dame of vampires and all things dark, Nancy Kilpatrick. Originally I was going to do two women a day but right now I have enough to spread the love. Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera organization. www.facebook.com/WomenInHorrorMonth

Without further ado, here is: NANCY KILPATRICK

Nancy Kilpatrick, Women in Horror, horror, dark fiction, vampires

Nancy Kilpatrick, queen of vampire fiction

Award-winning author with 18 novels, 1 non-fiction book, over 200 short stories and 6 collections of stories, and 13 edited anthologies to her credit.  Currently working on short fiction, another anthology, and a 7-novel series.  Updates at nancykilpatrick.com and on Facebook.

1. Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I’ve also written some fantasy, mystery and erotica and like to think I would write anything that appealed to me.  I prefer horror and dark fantasy writing because it suits my nature.  If there’s ever anything negative from anyone it’s this comment accompanied by a scowl: “Oh, like all those slasher movies.”  I explain (briefly) what horror is about, from Stoker, Shelley, Stevenson and writers of other classic literature into the present.  Education is everything.

Edge Publishing, vampires, horror, dark fiction, women authors, women's rights

Vampyric Variations, by Edge Publishing is a collection of Nancy’s fiction.

2. Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

This is THE most important genre because it’s the only one that looks at the dark side of life by confrontation: “We humans don’t know everything.”  It’s rife with undercurrents  and always controversial.  The network of people who read and write in this realm are, like me, interested in the dark side, and that always flies in the face of the mainstream’s preference for happiness, as if happiness is a goal, rather than an occasional state of being.  Reality is more than the sun.  The moon is equally important and some of us prefer it.

Everything and everyone inspires me.

3. Do you feel women are under represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance).

writing, horror, dark fiction, Danse Macabre, women in horror

Danse Macabre, published by Edge Publications and edited by Nancy Kilpatrick.

Women in this realm are both underrepresented and undervalued.  I guess you could say that about a lot of areas.  Women still have a difficult time getting into major anthologies and magazines in this field–check most of these types of publications in this genre and you’ll see few contributors are women.  If a woman writes what’s deemed “women’s horror,” which is generally paranormal, supernatural and/or gothic romance, and/or YA, it’s much easier to get published.

4. Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

I have no answer for this.

5. Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

women's rights, equality, sexism, women in horror, fiction writing, horror

Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Most horror was, in the past, written by men, and that’s still the case today. Many women write with a unique voice; female concerns naturally filter into our work.  We face more real-life horror–if we didn’t there wouldn’t be so many women’s shelters, or high statistics of rape and murder of women.

Horror is a difficult genre for women to move forward in (unlike, say, the mystery or romance genres, both of which feature large numbers of A-list women writers).  In horror literature, women are not taken seriously because some of what we face is not faced by men, who do not menstruate, give birth, or go through menopause.  Women have enough testosterone floating through their systems that it seems we can relate more to male situations than men can relate to female situations.  I’d like to see that aspect of publishing change, but that involves readers changing and maybe society changing.  In my years in this business, there have been several attempts at broadening the base of best-selling women writers in this genre and with each attempt women lurch forward a notch (mostly in paranormal and YA), but there’s still a very long way to go.

Tomorrow I bring you E.M. MacCallum.

women in horror, viscera organization

THE MISSION

Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.

THE VISION

A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.

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The World’s Oldest Profession

prostitute, courtesan, hooker, prostitution, Greek, music

Wiki Commons: courtesan and musician w/client

It’s debatable as the oldest profession, but it’s also true that prostitution has been around for a very very long time. And undoubtedly there were probably forms of prostitution going back to Babylonian times. While there are Sumerian and Mesopotamian texts referring to prostitutes there is still great debate as to whether there were sacred prostitutes who gave themselves away for coin at various temples. There are many references to Aphrodite, Ishtar and Inanna, and Herodotus writes about the temple prostitutes for some of these goddesses, but some scholars debate the veracity of his words.

One thing is certain; as long as we have had men and women, there has been a need or a want for sex. And the trade has been plied in various cultures and various ways for millennia. The ancient Greeks differentiated between courtesans, concubines and wives: “we have courtesans for pleasure, concubines to provide for our daily needs, and our spouses to give us legitimate children and to be the faithful guardians of our home.” (Pseudo-Demosthenes) As with this comment it is obvious there were different classes of prostitutes. Pornai were often owned by pimps and therefore either slaves or indentured servants. Then there were hetaera, those we would associate with mistresses or courtesans. They didn’t sell to various customers but would have had a select clientele.

The hetaera could manage their own affairs, while the pornai would have possibly been dancers, musicians and/or women who had to sell themselves to survive because they had no pater familias to protect them. The world of the Greeks was not an easy place for a woman and for her to do anything she needed the protection of a man, unless she was of the select few who could run businesses and own property without a man’s permission (Vestal Virgins were one group in Roman times). Young girls and boys could also have been prostitutes, sold into it or born into it, and the world and culture were different then.

But has it changed much in the world today? Prostitutes who are “owned” by pimps are often still on the lower rung of the ladder, whereas call girls and courtesans rate higher, work with select clients and don’t have to be on the street. There are many people who get into prostitution because they are destitute, on drugs or suffered an abusive childhood (often including sexual assault). But there are some who prefer it, because, like the sacred prostitutes of long ago (some of them), they feel they are therapists, they like it or they enjoy the rewards they can reap, though like any job, work is work. There are those forced into it as child prostitutes. No one, no matter their age or gender should ever be forced to give or sell sex.

But should it be legalized? Yes. To do so would get it off of the streets…mostly (more on this in a minute). Sex workers could be certified, checked for diseases, housed in government brothels (just like cigarettes and alcohol, I can’t see how the government has passed up this opportunity for another vice tax), protected from pimps and dangerous johns. Those on the street would more likely be those underage and the police could haul them and the johns in for consorting with minors. It would literally clean up the streets and keep almost everyone else safer. Of course, there is always a grey area and the laws would have to be explicit as to how the prostitution would look, including laws about minors, people not in control of their faculties (drug addicts) and what is okay. But it can be done and places like Amsterdam and Nevada prove it.

To let outmoded religious beliefs of a few affect the sex trade is yet another case of forcing one’s morality on another. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, then it should be allowed. Let adults be adults and decide for themselves. And let’s do more to protect the numerous women out there so that they’re less likely to end up as a corpse in the woods or on Picton’s pig farm. Keeping prostitution illegal only hurts those who are in the trade and doesn’t even give them a better way out.

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Women: Neither Poison Nor Possession

I’m getting extremely tired and pissed off with women getting blamed for a helluva lot. In fact it’s almost enough to turn me into a rabid feminazi. The only problem is that I’m an egalitarian and I don’t believe one race or gender or religion should get special rights over another.

Creative Commons "Her Eyes" by Ranoush (flickr)

With that in mind, women are not your property. They don’t belong to you, or me or any man or any religion. They belong to themselves. On a good day we’re called the fairer sex. On a bad day we’re called the weaker sex and taken advantage of, raped, murdered, abused, locked away and chastised, to name a few. I’d like to think we live in a world where women are treated equally and get equal pay for equal work. Unfortunately that would only be a microcosm and even in Vancouver women are raped and murdered, or considered the chattels of men.

Here are just a few ways in which women have not yet been accorded equality as human beings:

  • Honor killings–rarely do you hear of the man being killed but it does happen in conjunction with the woman’s death and seems specific to certain cultures (but I’m not a cultural anthropologist). The woman is interested in someone not of her station and the family, usually the father or brothers kill her to avenge the wrongs to their honor. What BS that is. Honor is what you make it and you’re responsible for your own not for anyone else’s.
  • Adultery–like the famous Ashtiani case in Iran, which isn’t exactly treating many of their people fairly, women get charged with adultery in certain countries where they will be stoned or likewise killed for their indiscretion. Again, rarely do you ever hear of the man being called to task whether he’s the one married or the one with a married woman. Regardless of such draconian measures it’s always the woman’s fault and she suffers the brunt. Adultery takes two as does sex. In these countries a woman rarely can even say she was raped because the men have more rights and say she was loose or cheating, not matter what they did to her.
  • Female circumcision–don’t get me wrong, women are also responsible for this because they’ve bought into this dominance over women and castrating them so they get no enjoyment from sex. Because gosh, yet again it’s only men who get to be the ones sowing their wild oats all over the place.
  • Murder–it’s such a large category, from such monsters like Picton preying on women to a man who kills his wife because she’s leaving him, as if she ever belonged to him, as if murder ever makes sense for such an offense should she even have just been a bitch. If we killed every bitch and bastard out there, we certainly wouldn’t be worried about overpopulating the earth.
  • Seductress–she dressed like she was asking for it. She deserved it the way she was dressed. This of course puts the judging of women’s fashion into the eyes of the beholder and one person’s acceptable clothing (think Amish) is not another’s. This presumes an attitude based on clothing that can be completely false.
  • Hiding, cloistering or veiling women–Yeah we hear about the burkah and the naqib and women locked away where only their men can see them. But I ask as always, why don’t the men have to veil themselves. It’s no affront to whatever god a person worships. It’s a way for a man to control or own a woman, and be jealous enough he wants to covet her. I don’t care what any woman says; at heart is a gender different treating them like their poison or possession.
  • Poison–a woman’s period is filthy and bad and of the underworld. She taints things. I went to some Native (First Nations/Indian) healing circles through one year. Women who had a period had to wrap their lower extremities in a blanket because their energy would “ground out” the energy of the eagle feather. If it’s that powerful, can’t it be used to loft things higher too? And sweats; a man could go in, in just shorts. A woman had to wear something down to the ground (in some sweats their arms must be covered to the wrist too) because they might entice men. These sweats were 3-feet high, black as pitch and hotter than hell. No one is thinking of touching anyone let alone themselves. Yet again, the onus was on the woman to hide herself but the men could be half naked.

Eve’s lot in life wasn’t being weaker or inferior. What it was, was having to bear the brunt for the fact men can’t control themselves and are animals to women. Do I believe this? Not really. But it’s what’s put out there, if you lift the veil.

Again, I am an egalitarian and I think each person should be judged on their own merits, not their skin color, gender or religion. All of any group isn’t bad or good or evil or stupid or whatever. I love men but not the stupid, bigoted, racist, misogynist ones. The list above is by no means complete but I’m seriously getting pissed off hearing over and over how women are the ones who suffer the worst for crimes of the male or for just being female. It’s up to each of us to stand up against this sort of attitude.

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The Wacky World of Bras

Statistics are showing that women shop for lingerie (bras, panties, etc.) more than any other type of clothes and at least five times a year. So much so that Mark’s (once Mark’s Work Wearhouse) plans to add lingerie to their line so that they can draw more women into their stores. And to guys bras and bra buying are a mystery.

Some young men work on their technique of undoing a bra one handed and others are befuddled by the fasteners, especially if they’re front fastening. Maybe this is why so many guys go into engineering. Of all garments of clothing a brassiere is the only piece that a man doesn’t wear or have an equivalent garment. Even skirts are simulated in kilts and Uitilikilts. As well a skirt covers the same part of the torso as shorts or pants, and a shirt or blouse cover the upper torso but men don’t wear bras…usually.

So this piece of apparel and women’s propensity for it is hard to fathom for many men. As one male friend told me, “I buy ten pairs of socks and ten pairs of underwear all the same and when they wear out I get more. But women may have from one to twenty bras and matching underwear. Because of the way our tops, blouses and shirts fit with scoops, V-necks, boat necks, square, low or high, it means that sometimes the bra might show and if the color blends it’s better. And if you’re wearing a form-fitting top you don’t want the stippling or seams to show through so you need a smooth cup but if you want something a little sexy (the only aspect of a bra that men might truly understand), you might want lace or ruffled edges.

Then there are sports bras, ones that will hold everything in place when you’re jogging, and strapless bras so you still have support and form even under an evening gown without the gauchness of showing the straps, or bras with crossed straps or thin straps for various styles of top. There are molded bras and ones with removable padding (especially helpful should a woman have breasts of uneven size and we all do to some extent). There are push-up bras and unlined bras, super support for the big busted gals and demi bras for those low-cut tops. So, it makes sense that in fact women don’t just have five white bras but a host of colors and styles and materials.

The opposite side is the women that do only have one or two bras that are older than their college aged children. The purpose of a brassiere is support and cover, as well as fashion and shaping. When I’m at the gym there are often these middle aged to elderly women wearing bras that sag more than their breasts. At that point, they may as well toss them. Their bathing suits often match in the baggy  department. It defeats the purpose on all fronts of having a bra if it’s old and doesn’t fit.

Bras are probably one of the most synthetic pieces of clothing that we wear. There are cotton bras but they’re often padded with something synthetic. You can get shirts, pants, skirts and dresses that are all natural fibers but you’ll be hard pressed to find a bra that is and they have all the forms to shape us and make us more than we are. And as it turns out, 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size; usually too large a band size (the strap that encircles you) and too small a cup size. I can say from experience that I was doing the same thing.

Part of the problem is, as Wikipedia lays it out, there is no standardization between one brand and another nor on how they size bras. Some companies just add 4 or 5  inches to the band size to make the cup size. Some pad their numbers so that women think they’re buying a smaller band size. The bras of yesteryear, from the 50s and 60s were holdovers from the war era when rubber (and therefore elastic) was rationed. The bras didn’t fit that well. Torpedo bras rarely matched the human form. Sure the nipple might be pointed, sort of, but we don’t tend to have cone-shaped breasts.

With more elastic, polyester and other synthetic materials, bras took on many shapes with pad, water filled pouches and other ways to enhance the female form. Where Playtex bras of the 60s advertised “lift and separate” today’s bras are all about push together and up. Of course our shapes have changed, not because we’re evolving but because we’re having silicon and water and other odd chemicals injected or implanted into our bodies. Breasts are not torpedo cones, nor are they a melon cut in half and placed on the chest.

So, if men are baffled by women’s bras, considered that women have man shapes and sizes of breasts. Some are perky, some flattened by offspring sucking the dry, some lopsided, some full, some pendulous. And breasts change as we age, as we gain or lose weight, as we exercise and during the month. I tend to have different sizes/types depending on whether I’m ovulating or not. As long as bra sizes tend to be arbitrary wish fulfillment on the part of manufacturers women will continue to shop for lingerie most of all, because it really is a guessing game on finding the right fit.

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The Cornucopia List

Here are this week’s list of five things for which I’m grateful. In the future I imagine I will repeat some things as it will be that which makes me grateful that week, but for now there will be larger items, like life and chocolate. :)

  1. Thunderstorms–They’re not as frequent here in Vancouver as they were in Calgary where you could get super hot days and super cold rains. When a thunderstorm was imminent my mother would unplug all the electrical appliances, a very smart thing before power surge protectors when a lightning strike could travel into your appliance and kill it or start a fire. We would then all go down to basement and hang out, without the lights on, just in case of an electrical surge there. The sky would be vein with white light and the loud tumultuous clash of gray, broiling clouds. It was magnetic, dramatic, exciting! I remember one, while still living in Calgary down by the river. My boyfriend and I were watching the thunder and lightning outside our balcony window when there was an electrifying flash and smashing crash of sound that vibrated the building. Instinctively we had both run away from the window and were halfway across the apartment by the time we realized what we had down. That lightning strike hit on the hill not a mile behind our building. Today they warn that we could have a thunderstorm in Vancouver. I hope so.
  2. Turquoise–this is my absolutely most favorite color though I do like the whole range of greens (except for maybe puke green). Turquoise can be blue-green or green-blue, called peacock as well. I tend to like my turquoise on the slightly greenish side of blue, and I love it. I can’t explain but it is almost a visceral hunger to swallow, touch and taste this color. Contrary to what you might believe I don’t swathe myself only in this color though I tend to have more green clothing than anything else and one wall in my bedroom is turquoise.
  3. Cats–besides giving us an excuse to talk out loud without looking crazy for talking to ourselves, cats are lovely companions. They fill a space with energy and fur, they purr and express love for you, even if it is only cupboard love. They warm your feet and make you part of their family. And they certainly have unique personalities. From my first cat Beko, through Ming, Tiger, Banshee, Mango, Figgy and now Venus, they’ve all given certain traits and opinions. They can be a big pain in the ass, getting underfoot, knocking things over, scratching the wrong thing, howling to get in, in fights with other cats, clawing your leg on accident or purpose, demanding food, but hey, humans do much the same (except maybe clawing your leg). So yes, I am extremely grateful for the companionship of cats especially when I’ve been down. Venus, pictured above, is the epitome of a love cat, with people at least.
  4. Being female–Yeah, we have little choice with this unless we want to go through and expensive operation and face ostracization and social isolation. It’s very hard on people who feel they are the wrong sex in a body. And there are women supposedly who experience “penis envy” though I think that was more of a Freudian era than real, though there are women who feel they must act/dress like men to be respected or get a certain job. And unfortunately there are men who feel women are chattel, property to be dictated to, owned and wrapped and hidden away except for their own viewing. And of course, the Catholic church has long blamed women for leading men astray because gosh, I guess men can’t think for themselves. But still, I like being a woman and I feel that I am pretty empowered. If I chose I could give birth and I get to wear a way larger range of clothes. No wonder some men, who are truly heterosexual like to wear women’s clothing once in a while. I’m grateful I’m a woman comfortable in my body most of the time, with all my bumps and curves.
  5. Shoes–yes shoes. That I can afford them, that I have more than one pair (even though I do have foot issues) and that they come in such funky styles from stiletto with pointy toes, to round toes and wide heels, to flat shoes, to platforms, to straps, to slip-ons, to buckles and ties. A myriad of colors and materials of designs and patterns, and even of comfort, but I like them. I had a boyfriend once long ago who really liked shoes and maybe it was a shoe fetish but I developed a love of shoe styles through him, and they can completely ruin an outfit if not right. I have runners (tennis shoes or whatever they’re called in the US) but I only wear those for working out or hiking. They’re not for every day. But yeah, I’m grateful for shoes.

And there we go, from nature to fashion, my Cornucopia List for this week.

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Cougars and Other Wildcats of the City

In this wacky new age of changing everything into acronyms, such as WTF, OMG and KFC, there is also the penchant of labelling and categorizing things. I’ve talked already about the whole genre categorization of fiction. But it goes farther than that.

These days, everyone from your friends to the government want to catalogue and categorize you by demographics, whether it’s age, gender, religion, financial affluence, education, gender preference, geographic region, favorite vegetable or any of a number of esoteric specifics. Labelling serves the purpose of saying we need this much of these resources for this many people. But it can also be used to ostracize and cage a group.

The gay community has long lived with tags, many of them from those who were outside of the lifestyle. However, I have several gay friends and they are just as likely to call themselves rice queens (men who like Asian men), potatoes (men who like white guys) and other variations on the theme more than others. I’ve known Asian people as well who call or label themselves as “banana.” White on the inside but yellow on the outside.

So perhaps it’s only natural that women had to get another name besides wife, mother and ho; that of cougar. Although there have been strong and independent women throughout history, more started appearing during the second world war when they took on the jobs of men who were in the war or in some cases, jobs such as mechanics in the army. Every able-bodied man was required on the front so women were trained for all the jobs traditionally worked by men. My mother worked in a hat making factory, running the machines. When an inspector came by he found she was being paid women’s wages for a man’s job and they had to adjust her wage.

So yes, independent women; not a surprise. Once we moved out of the 60s people started to re-examine the traditional roles. Men had been breadwinners, women, homemakers and mothers who often didn’t work. But women started to work more and more. Economy and inflation of home prices added to this, as well as many women decided they didn’t want children or wanted to keep their careers. Although some women took what were seen as traditional roles (nurses, teachers, librarians, seamstresses, etc.) others started to go into men’s fields: engineers, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, etc.

This movement into the workforce was seen as a threat by some men, that the status quo was being upset. Men have been the strong ones, the breadwinners, the head of the house. With some men, wives and children were status symbols like cars and TVs, showing their wealth and virility and their power. So when women started working men’s jobs they were made fun of, ridiculed and generally paid less for the same jobs. A female politician might be described or noted for the clothes she wore (not her work) whereas a male politician’s clothes were never mentioned. Gender bias has happened in many places and many jobs. Media people are trained these days in ways to avoid gender stereotyping but it is very insidious.

Even with a more broadened awareness there is the need to label women over fortyas cougars. This often stands for a woman who is independent, strong and confident but may also date younger men. Its negative aspects depict a woman grabbing at youth and hunting younger men for sex toys. Our society, in certain areas, felt the need to single these women out, to stereotype them, to ridicule them. What better way to try and lessen a woman’s power but to laugh at her and not take her seriously. Make a caricature to keep women in their place.

You might think I’m going over the top but if in fact women were treated equally in all circumstances, then we would not have the subjugation of women in Afghanistan where the only good woman is one in a burka. Well, that’s different; that’s a different country. Okay, what about the fact that most domestic violence occurs against women and that more women die than men, and are usually killed by men in such situations? What about all the women who are raped?  Until those crimes are eliminated women won’t get a truly fair shake.

But back to cougars, or pumas or tigers (which I have no clue whether they’re real terminology for further categorizing women’s taste in men)…why does our society take such glee in these names? Because it’s all right for a man twenty years a woman’s senior to chase her down and maybe marry her. Hello, Hugh Hefner. It’s all right for a men twenty-thirty years older to play the love interest to a twenty-something in the movies but the other way around and Hollywood wants a much shorter age range, if they’ll do it at all. Though there have been movies such as Harold and Maude and one that I don’t know the name of that had Susan Sarandon as an older love interest.

Yes, the attitude is changing…slowly. However women are made laughed at for what men have always done. In the end, who cares who is sexually attracted to who? As long as everyone is of legal age, it’s up to those people to work out their relationship. Maturity and compatibility should matter more than chronological years.

But as terms go at least a cougar is a sleek, beautiful, powerful animal. Much better to be compared to a feline than to a worm or a snake or a cow. And if you want to look at one term for older men that has a pretty negative connotation, well I’d take cougar over “old goat” any day.

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Japanese Gropers: Molestation Hits a New Low

Molesters have never had a good name. They sneakily prey on others, mostly women, to get their clandestine pleasures. Some molesters go for underage children, even more despicable. So one must truly wonder what is happening to Japanese culture where gangs of gropers (known as chikan, the term meaning groping, touching, rubbing and illicit photo taking) stalk trains to inappropriately touch women.

Estimates are that two-thirds of women commuters have been touched on the trains. Japan has long had overpacked commuter trains where employees cram people into each door until they’re packed tighter than sardines, unable to move at all. A claustrophobic or asthmatic person would not survive long on these trains and I wonder how well short people endure, squeezed amongst the muffling coats.

So one must presume that these gropers pick lines with a bit less restriction as no one would be able to even move their hands on the crushing commuter lines. In fact, there are websites dedicated to this pervasive perverseness. They indicate the best lines to hit for a grope and where the best escape routes are. Most of the women attacked have been in their teens and twenties, the majority underage schoolgirls in uniform. What it is with the pedophilic fancy for women in schoolgirl outfits runs the edge of creepy and I suspect most women who even dress up in these outfits veer away from thinking about what it means when a grown man is attracted to a schoolgirl.

Some of the chikanhave organized into gangs that separate out a woman, surround her and block other people from seeing what is being done to her. Not much different from gang rape. Yet it is such a problem in Japan that they have women-only trains (as they have had in India for years, because of cultural moires more than groping issues), but the problem is still prevalent. Japan also has a secluded nightclub set up to look like a commuter train, where women stand like commuters and men wander through, groping at will. They can touch any way they desire as long as they don’t ejaculate on the trains. At least that is done by consensual people on both sides.

This behavior is disgusting and offensive on a lot of levels and yet another example of where women are sexualized and treated as nothing more than toys for the perversions and pleasures of men. It would be interesting if roving gangs of women started applying pliers and vice grips to mens’ genitals, or goosing them with giant silicone phalluses. However, the only problem with a reciprocating gang is that two wrongs don’t make a right and innocent men would be targeted. Still, you don’t hear of women running around and groping.

The biggest concern that I see in all this is what is there in this specific culture that encourages and entices people to fall into public groping, where other cities and countries don’t suffer the same problem? Is it the Japanese work ethic, which keeps people working too much (and where some will kill themselves to save face) that has them implode into irrational, law-breaking behavior? Is there a restrictive sexual attitude in this society that causes men to push outside the restrictive boundaries? What factors play in making many men sway to the pedophile and sexual aggressor mode?

It’s well known that in Thailand’s sexual economy, the biggest purveyors of pedophile trysts are Germans and Japanese. Why? Japan even has an underground trade where men will pay for a pair of underwear that has been worn by women. And yes there are women in other countries who mail their underwear to such purchases. But what is it about these cultures that raises the number?

The Victorian era was known of a time of prim properness, where ladies were ladies and men acted like gentlemen. Yet it also had the Hellfire Club, a place frequented by nobles and politicians to carry out rakish and immoral acts. Again, is it the very repression of a society that pops perversion to the surface? It makes one wonder at what must be going on in Afghanistan. And yet, in all these sexually unacceptable acts, it seems to be men perpetrating their base desires on unwilling women. It really makes me wonder when we took the civilized out of civilization, if it was ever there.

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Do We Need Another Beauty Queen?

Yesterday it was announced that there would be the first Miss Vancouver, multi-ethnic beauty pageant. Marina Hossain, is the CEO of Jam Expo Inc., which will be organizing the pageant for the Health and Beauty Expo. So first off, Canada hasn’t had a Miss Canada pageant since 1992. High production costs and declining interests were the reasons given. The other part was that people just weren’t interested in seeing women sashay along in a bathing suit and an evening gown, and giving their five minutes on how I hope to improve the world.

Yesterday’s CBC Radio One had a pageant coordinator also mention that Canadians just aren’t interested in being beauty queens, yet the ethnic beauty contests have continued. Obviously these contests do give exposure to the winner, as well as some prizes and cash. But the other reason they’re not popular is become they are still sexist and based on “beauty.”

So here comes Ms. Hossain with a new one that blends all ethnicities. Common ground is good but it’s still a beauty pageant. In fact, Hossain says, “Some can sing, some can dance, some have a nice face. Not everybody has that. But it’s the same as any other talent, like swimming. I see it in the same line. Beauty should be appreciated, too…. Beauty is something you have to work on. You have to furnish it. It’s a talent, knowing how to keep up with your body and health. Plus the natural talent you’re blessed with.”

A talent? Right. Being beautiful is a talent like having a well working heart, or two good eyes. You’re born with it or you’re not. Being born with something is not a talent. Some people have natural abilities in drawing or running but it still takes work to be good at and maintain a consistent level of talent. Beauty I guess can also be maintained: eat healthy, exercise, sleep properly. But then there is always botox, and  silicone and plastic surgery to make one beautiful. That’s a talent for those with money.

Hossain thinks beauty is a legitimate female talent. Wow! Why not have a beauty pageant for flowers then? Beauty, where the winner will be crowned with a tiara. Like a true Disney princess world in which Hossain wants to perpetuate the aspect of women being pretty trophies.

Contestants will be judged on the health of their skin, hair, fitness level, etc. They will get to parade along in white T-shirts and jeans, evening gowns and ethnic wear. Swimsuits may yet happen. So someone like me, born in Canada to Canadian parents, whose ethnic grandparents died early and didn’t pass on their cultural motifs for Italian and Danish ethnic/rural clothing would  wear something decidedly…Canadian. Like jeans, or Birkenstocks, or cowboy boots, or a shirt, or… Hmm, I wonder how the judges will like that ethnic dress. But I’m sure they’ll be fair…in judging who’s most beautiful in their ethnic wear.

It makes me wonder if someone, a woman who is sturdy, perhaps small hipped but barrel chested, thick through the shoulders but with amazing skin, lovely hair and who exercises four times a week could ever win, even if her attributes were better than her slimmer opponents. Especially if she had a bulbous nose and squinty eyes but was the nicest person you ever met, with intelligence and compassion for all. Would she win? I’m guessing, not.

While other pageants in recent years had to disguise the parading of female flesh with humanitarian works and community work, this is hardly mentioned up front. It’s all about the talent of beauty. Here is rule # 7 in the requirements:

7. Candidates will not be permitted to have any body art or body piercing that is visibly offensive.

Hmm, visibly offensive. I’m sorry, ma’am, your botox lips are visibly offensive. Excuse me sir, your balding head is visibly offensive. Why you, your height is visibly offensive. That leaves a lot to interpretation but then Ms Hossain and her judges get to be the judge of that. Just hope you figure it out before you send in your $138 nonrefundable registration fee. Oh and you have to be in good health and not have any medical problems. Is that fair under the human rights code? Well probably since they’re making it for young women 18-28 who can never have been married. I wonder if they want them to be virgins too.

But perhaps I’m being harsh about this vapid throwback to stereotypical pageants that promote the objectifying of women. I’d believe more that this was something new and great if it wasn’t a promotional gimmick for the expo. I’d believe it had altruism at its heart if there had been any mention about what the women are expected to bring to the world and community. Sure, that might help decide but it’s obviously not the thrust. I’d believe this was for a more balanced and less genderist idea if it included men and didn’t have the Disney princess tiara.

Unfortunately I find it hard to believe in or support this trophy girl award. There is a good reason that Canadians don’t want to enter such bigoted pageants.

http://www.jamexpo.ca/RULES-MAY2009.pdf

http://www.jamexpo.ca/vancouver.php?pageid=29

http://www.straight.com/article-212939/beauty-talent-says-organizer-new-miss-vancouver-pageant

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Politics: Gender Voting

I’m more than a little disturbed by several things going on in our political world today. Of course I’m always disturbed by racism and bigotry, and certain genderist trends seem to be rearing their ugly heads right now.

The first is that in the US for the first time, can I say ever, there were women running for presidential candidates. Okay, one running for presidential candidate (Hillary Clinton) and another put in as a VP running mate (Sarah Palin). It’s great that there are women in politics and of course there should be more. It is still and often a man’s world where a woman politician will be mentioned in the press for what she wore rather than what she stood for. The media is getting better at this and in the US and Canada there are women politicians.

But when I hear some woman say that she would vote for Hillary because she is a woman and then will now vote for McCain because he has a VP running mate who is a woman, it scares me. How stupid can people get? Obviously, very stupid. I’m sure there are men who would have voted for McCain if Hillary got in because they think politics ain’t no place for a woman. I’d like to think this is a small percentage but I don’t know.

Since the Suffragette movement women and politics have been mixing (if not unofficially before). Looking at Palin and Clinton, their views are so diametrically opposed that it’s like comparing a salad and a piece of baklava; they’re both food but that’s it. These women are women but that’s it. Their attitudes are different, their beliefs are different, their ways of thinking and acting are different.

Not all women are the same or think the same. This seems pretty obvious to anyone of intelligence. Just as men are not the same. Men and women can have the same views just as they can have different views. Hey, buttheads of both genders, vote for issues, not for a person’s gender. Those that vote for McCain because of Palin, (and gods help us if they get in) will get what they deserve. Unfortunately, everyone will suffer.

Likewise in Canada, there are four parties running in the federal election, with Elizabeth May of the Green Party being the only woman leader. However, there has been recent news that the Green party is putting in candidates who are women, which is fine but if the best candidate is a man they’re being overlooked or worse, being barred from being a candidate in a riding. WTF? Does no one see a problem with this?

I’ve always had huge problems with people being barred from something based on their gender. Humans are of equal intelligence independent of gender. Men are stronger in average but unless a job is only physical women can do all the jobs men can. Any party or any person who chooses their candidate because of gender should be smacked upside the head. On top of this, it’s downright scary and a slippery slope to such groups as the Taliban who subjugated women to such a degree that they couldn’t work. I’m sure they couldn’t vote, if the Taliban even allowed something as democratic as voting.

Men should not be banned because they are men. Women should not be voted for because they are women. If we were in a country where women (or men) had been tamped down so much they had few rights and the only way to ensure some balance against bias was to vote for gender, then that would be a different thing…if their views supported what you believe in. I’d say I’m embarrassed to be a woman, but I’m not. I just think there are women and men out there who should be embarrassed because they’re thinking with their genitals, not their brains.

Let’s see some intelligence in these elections and no gender politics.

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