Sunday, April 21, 2013

Enviro-Optimists vs Doom-Mongers: Another Wentian False Dichotomy

Margaret Wente, in her latest discourse, thinks the reason the environment's being ignored is because of all the pessimists making us too depressed about it all.  She splits all environmentalists into two camps:
"But the biggest divide is really between the purists and the pragmatists, the pessimists and the optimists - between the McKibbernists, who believe we're on the brink of global catastrophe, and those who think human beings are more resourceful and the Earth is more resilient than the doom-mongers say they are."
And I ask:  Can't it be both??

Because it is.  Every environmentalist I know wavers between the two fronts or else the pessimists would just kill themselves or stay drunk all the time, and the optimists would stop fighting to be heard - AND, if optimists really believe it'll all come out in the wash, they wouldn't worry about how to frame their arguments to avoid shutting people off by being too depressing.  Follow?

This is all a lead-in to the new Rob Stewart film:  Revolution.  He walks that line all the way.  He clearly believes we're on the brink of catastrophe, but also that human beings are resourceful - that we will actually get our shit together in this generation.

Silence During Tragedy

I went to a history conference, and one of the PhDs at the front was talking about the common occurrence of silence during tragedy.  And, while those around me discussed WWII, and the Iran-Iraq war, and internment of the Japanese in Canada, I started thinking more about how uncomfortable people are talking about rape.

It all fit together for me largely because of a woman I once met, a friend's mom, who had lived in a concentration camp in Poland.  She had nine kids, and two were born there, while she was separated from her husband.  The guards routinely took women into their cabins.  But, she said, the difference between that time and place and now, is that when a woman came out of those cabins, the rest of the women were ready for her, with open arms and warm blankets and a soothing touch.  According to this smiling woman with only one good leg and numbers on her arm, rape couldn't be hidden there, so it was much, much easier to recover from.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

On Our Rape Culture: Rehtaeh Parsons' Unfortunate Legacy

And another one gone - a victim of assault and revenge porn enacted and filmed by a bunch of teenaged boys who had more power than they might have ever imagined:  they could kill from a distance.  As Elizabeth Renzetti says of these double-barrel assaults, they are, "not just an act of violence but a spectator sport."  And here we thought we had come so far from the bloodlust days of the Colosseum.

The act isn't dissimilar from torturing an animal and showing pictures to people.  It's a behaviour that is absolutely depraved.  Who looks at those types of visuals without looking differently at the goon who took them?  Unfortunately, they have enough of an audience that we need to be afraid.  For some people, their body responds to the visuals even if their brain might hope it didn't.  So clips are saved and circulated endlessly.

Circulating the film is also a mean of re-shaming the act.  After years of the rally cry, "Rape is a crime, not a shame!" some perpetrators are working hard to make people ashamed to be raped for obvious reason:  if they're embarrassed by it, they won't tell.  But Rehtaeh did tell.

Monday, April 8, 2013

When Men are Raped

A man was sexually assaulted by four women in Toronto, and the story is make the facebook rounds.  I hate to say "of course," but of course people think it's hilarious.  Here are some choice comments directly copied and pasted without names - but these were all written by men (or, I suppose, people posing as men):

"Lucky basturd!"
"Get any phone numbers?"
"Dayum...And I try to look suspicious to female security at an Airport just so I can get frisked."
"where is this club ? whats the cover charge ? will the women hurt you if you cant get it up?"
"lets give him a luckiest boy in the world medal"
"wierd stuff because most men would not complain unless they tried to cut it off or something"
"Jesus they were about 14 stone each .. fuck me poor guy like getting attacked by hippos , sure he would not of complained if they were of the smaller sized females either way hope they could of raped em I don't know what did they do put there finger up his ass so his cock went hard? Haaa"
"Is he bragging or Complaining?"
"Why do things like this never happen to me???????" 
My comment, in the middle of the fray and largely ignored:  "Wow. Rape is rape no matter the gender. If a guy isn't into it, then it's rape, and it's not fun or cool, and he's not lucky. It's an assault that can cause lasting emotional trauma - even for men."

Monday, April 1, 2013

On Boredom

 I'm not talking about the "nausea of ennui" discussed from Seneca ("many who judge life to be not bitter, but superfluous") to Sartre, that total lack of interest in anything that makes it difficult for some to get out of bed in the morning, but of that feeling that overcomes us when we are required to do something painfully tedious.

We often elevate simple boredom to the lofty realms of melancholia or depression, as if it's worthy of great sympathy and profound relief efforts, when a mere change of scenery (or attitude) can save the day. But often it's the word we use when we have unrewarding work to do.  It's a trapped feeling that we escape with any little thing we can - cat videos or video games - anything to avoid beginning.  And that's easily solved if we can just get on with it.  And sometimes the task is so repetitive, it takes all we have to get to the end of it - like marking 60 almost identical essays or tests.  We muscle through it to the end, sometimes rewarding ourselves with treats after every five papers to keep us alert and focused.