Saturday, April 28, 2007


Aw fuck, I've got 15 minutes left to get my Take Back The Blog post in.

I'd been thinking about what to write all day, and realised that I didn't really have much more to say, other than to re-tell what I wrote for Blog Against Sexism Day:

This summer, I was harassed because of decisions I made while serving on the student union. These decisions offended a small group of people (one person, really, two or three max) who are generally the disgusting type. And instead of being criticised with rational reasons as to why they disagreed, I was (to be expected given their history) instead berated as a woman. I was called a bitch and a whore. I was made fun of for my weight (which is actually pretty average). Pornographic pictures were posted with labels indicating that I and the SCSU were double-penetrating the students. This person drove by my house in the middle of the night screaming at me. I had to get the Administration and the Community Safety Office involved. That was six months ago. I don't even want to know what they're saying about me now. My office-mate and fellow female executive, Lisa, faced similar insults when it came to some of her decisions.

My male colleagues? When they made a decision or said something people didn't like, their characters were gone after as well. But the names they were called didn't have anything to do with their sexuality. They didn't have anything to do with their body. No, they were called "power hungry" and "corrupt." Their actions were criticised more, they were "not accountable," they were playing political games and being manipulative.

Most of this happened on the Internet, because the decisions were in relation to an online forum that the SCSU was running at the time. The Executives were moderating it. At one point I was the forum admin, and the person who drove by my house was someone who I had banned.

There's a whole lot of stories behind this forum - when I was helping to run it, it was its third incarnation. It was taken down the previous two times (and ultimately, a third) because people couldn't play nice in the sandbox. And as I said, Lisa and I got a lot of shit on that forum whenever we said something, in ways that our male colleagues did not, and that was part of why we took the thing down. I was losing sleep over the harassment I was getting and it fucking sucked.

I really can't explain it, other than to rehash what is a given already: it's a lot of hatred for women, and fear of women in positions of power, and an inability to accept that we could possibly be right and they could possibly be wrong. According to people who know the guy behind all this, he was never a physical threat to me, just talk. They told me this months later. But how was I to know this while I'm lying awake in bed at 3 AM unable to sleep because I've just been screamed at for no good reason by a cowardly asshole who can't accept that he broke the rules? Way to discredit my feelings.

The other awful part was how hardly anyone stood up for me publicly. I got supportive e-mails and phone calls and talks over tea, but no one ever came out and said, STOP to his guy. And I don't know what to say about that, either. Maybe they were afraid of being targeted themselves. Maybe they didn't know what to do. I don't know.

But, I do know that I haven't let it stop me. Thankfully it was also never as bad for me as it was for people like Kathy Sierra, and hopefully it never will be. We deserve to be here just as much as anyone else.

Friday, April 27, 2007

it lives!

Yes, I'm alive. Things have just been crazy, but, today has been good.

As I mentioned before, Andy has been in a right state over the past eight months without any ID, the past year without a steady job, and the past six months without a home of his own. Last weekend I went to visit him, we stayed in a hotel. This past week he's really been on the street, more or less (well, in a friend's basement, really, and that was kinda sketch). We decided to take a big step, and my mom and I got together enough money to send him to Worcester, MA, where he grew up, to see about getting him some ID. He left at 3 AM and arrived just before noon. By 1:20 PM he had a record of his birth from the town clerk, and a temporary MassID from the RMV. By 4 PM he'd also taken care of his social security card and sent off an application for a passport. Wooo! He'll be spending the weekend with a friend of mine in Connecticut before heading back to Buffalo. The passport will take 1-4 weeks, and when he gets back to New York he'll be applying for ID from that state.

I am pretty fucking ecstatic about that. I could very well have him here in Canada by the end of May, which would be absolutely amazing.

I also had my last exam today. I think I kicked its ass. Awesome.

For the next week or so I'll be pretty much AWOL. I'm packing this weekend, moving on Monday, then I have peer educator training and a retreat next week as well. I won't be back until Sunday, then I have a week left with the SCSU. So I'll be busy, to say the least.

Hope you're all doing well out in internet-land. :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What. The. Fuck.

The opening of this article is disgusting. Short of coming out and saying, "It was Emily's fault," this is blatant, awful victim blaming.

Emily Hilscher was not responsible for the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Even if she was his ex-girlfriend, she was not responsible - the man who shot her was. He's the one who picked up the gun, he's the one who pulled the trigger. He was the one with such a sense of entitlement to this woman that he went out and killed her. But it doesn't seem like this paper realises that she's the one who was murdered.

So now every media source is going on about gun control, gun control, gun control; security, security, security. To be honest though, let's face it - if the guy was this disturbed, all the gun control and security in the world probably wouldn't have stopped him from harming others. As more details come out, I'll be interested to hear more about his story and his possible motives. Maybe it was the ex-girlfriend. Maybe it was his mental health. Maybe it was bullying (yes, it happens in universities). Maybe it was a campus culture he didn't fit into, didn't understand. We don't know. But I really don't think gun control should be made into the main issue. The backstory, what was going on in this young man's life, should be at the forefront of the discussions, so that if it was mental illness, in the future people in the same frame of mind can get the proper help sooner; so if it was a relationship gone sour, that we can get information out on handling those kinds of situations - and so that dead women don't get blamed for what they weren't responsible for.

Update: Making the article I wrote about even more ridiculous, it turns out that Emily Hilscher didn't even know the guy. Though he did seem to have a history of stalking, to the point where his roommates told their female friends not to come by their room. Apparently he "saw promiscuity" in one girl. *shudders*

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Of Note

June Callwood died yesterday. A real hero and an amazing woman. I really admired her.
Toronto Star: one, two, three.

How not to be an asshole: a guide for men by Chris Clarke over at Pandagon. Cue wild applause, alongside a sigh that probably the only reason some of the men this is directed at will take a hint is because it was written by a dude.

What's with the sexualized threats against women? by E.J. Graff at TPM Cafe. As someone who has been the target of sexualised threats, this means a lot to me.

Take Back the Tech. Much love for this campaign.

And finally, just for fun: Awesome.


To anyone who was at the Board meeting on Friday, I'm sorry for my outburst. I'm not sorry for the message I was trying to convey, but I know it was unprofessional of me to act the way I did. It was the result of a lot of frustration I've been feeling because of the way certain Directors have been acting, and I meant it when I said I couldn't believe I'd lasted this long with them. I'm not quitting, though. Despite all this I still like my job.

More blogging once exams are over.

Friday, April 13, 2007


This is another long story, but I'll make it as short as possible, and that is mostly because I'm sick of typing it out over and over again.

Some of you who know me personally may have already heard about my boyfriend, Andy Parker. Andy lives in Niagara Falls, New York, and in August 2006, his identification was stolen: his driver's license, his birth certificate, and his social security card. As well, at the end of September of that year, he was evicted from his apartment. He also recently got fired from his job.

Right now, Andy is flat broke, has no ID, and after tomorrow, nowhere to live. The government offices, community groups and agencies that are supposed to be there to help have been no help at all. He has been relying on the kindness of friends but is no longer able to do so. For the past eight months he has been run around in circles, promised things that never appeared, and barely scraping by because of this.

We are at our wit's ends. There is very little I can do for him from Canada, and this situation has been stressing us both out and straining our relationship. He needs help, and I figure the best I can do is get the word out.

First, I've created a Facebook group, which you can see here. It has more details on the situation and what Andy has already tried. If you don't have Facebook, contact me and I'll e-mail you the details.

Andy is looking for a place to stay, a job, and perhaps some legal wrangling. The housing and the job are the most important things right now because as of tomorrow, he'll be out on the street. What Andy is NOT looking for is a handout or money. What I'm trying to do is network, and find people, preferably in the U.S., who might be able to help. If you or someone you know lives in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area and knows of any job leads, or places he can stay (that don't want him to present ID), please contact me at and I will get you in touch with Andy. If you are involved in law or other related fields and think you can help with his ID situation, also get in touch.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated. Andy is a good guy who has had some really bad luck recently, and he really needs the help.

Thanks so much.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

misogyny in action at UWO

I'm disgusted to hear about the recent article in the University of Western Ontario's student newspaper, the Gazette, that was part of their "spoof" issue for April Fool's day. Someone thought an article, entitled "Labia majora carnage," that took direct shots at members of a campus women's group, WIN, and alluded to rape (in the form of taking a WIN member into a dark alley to "teach her a lesson"), characterising it as humourous, would be a hilarious addition to the issue.

Yeah. Hil-fucking-arious, "Xavier," whoever the hell you might be.

Apparently, and sadly, I hear that this is not altogether surprising for this newspaper. I'm told that the Gazette has a history of being sexist, racist, and generally bigoted, and that WIN has been trying to make them more accountable. Well, the names used in the article are either very close to the names of actual WIN members, or reference specific WIN members. These women are recognizable as themselves in the article. Read it, and you can see that the article suggests that one of these women should be raped.

Talk about backlash.

This is fucking disgusting. You can help take some action. Join the Facebook group Rapist Culture at The University of Western Ontario. Write to the Gazette Editor-in-Chief, Ian Van Den Hurk at Email the equity services at Western at to complain and to draw their attention to this article. Repost this on your blog or website. Spread the word about the things being written in this paper.

ETA: There's no online version of the article in question yet, but someone did scan it, so you can read it here. A warning - it may be triggering for some people.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Execs Behaving Badly

I just read this post by Erin Millar over at the Macleans Education section about RSU President-elect Nora Loreto's little freak-out on Bob Rae in the middle of an interview being conducted by Eyeopener editor Robyn Doolittle.

“She starts on about reducing tuition since it's expensive to live in Toronto,” Doolittle described in an email, “then goes off about the Millenium scholarship. Rae tries to answer briefly. She interupts him, talking louder and louder in typical [Canadian Federation of Students] scripted rants. [Rae and Loreto] speak overtop of each other for a bit and I finally bring it back. She interrupts again.”

Sounds strikingly familiar to two incidents with Chris Bentley earlier this year. Hmmm.

To be quite honest, I'm sick of people acting this way, screaming and yelling to try and get their way (and in the case of the SCSU, trying to destroy the entire sandbox since they broke the rules and can't play in it anymore). When did temper tantrums become effective means of communication for anyone over the age of two? Hell, at least in my family, they were never effective at that age, either. Interrupting interviews, press conferences, and meetings like this, in my opinion, only gets you limited results, such as the following:

1) A reputation as immature and unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue. You know, like a civil discussion where you can present proposals and work with people to get something positive accomplished.
2) Your name on public figures' lists of People Not To Let Near Me, Ever. If anyone ever did that to me while I was trying to work, I'd consider it harassment, and at the very least blacklist that person, if I didn't press charges. Not being able to go near someone is something that tends to get in the way of that Meaningful Dialogue thing.
3) Reports like this telling everyone that you're a tantrum-throwing fool, thus exacerbating 1 and 2.

Seriously now. This is really just common courtesy, good manners, things like that, things we should've all learned in kindergarten, being thrown out the window by people who should damn well know better. Students are paying their representatives to advocate on behalf of their needs, and should expect these representatives to present themselves and behave in a professional manner. I hope they're angry when they read about this.

ETA: Here's the editorial from Doolittle discussing the incident, and another one with a U of T candidate.