America don’t fret, we have stupid people in Canada too — they’re called Ford Nation

Some of you have probably learned that Olivia Chow did not win the Toronto mayoral election. I guess five plus years as a School Trustee, 14 years as a City Councillor and eight years as a Federal Member of Parliament wasn’t impressive enough for voters.

Anyway, I’ll discuss this more in a future post, if I can muster the strength. Basically it’ll involve a lot of ranting about how Toronto is in a really bad place now.

In more positive news Doug Ford didn’t win — so I’m happy.

Here’s a video of “Ford Nation”, the name given to voters who support the bumbling Ford family. It’s like, the greatest thing in the world!

Read: Hot Mess.

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Gay men get sexually harassed too

Note: The first 25% of this blog post was curated from an existing Slate article.

Hollaback! is an anti-street harassment organization that recently teamed up with the marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative to reveal what it’s like for a woman to walk down the street alone.

The agency outfitted a backpack with a hidden camera and walked across NYC streets for 10 hours in front of actress Shoshana B. Roberts, who was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and holding a microphone in each hand.

The mics recorded these comments:

Friendly. “Have a nice evening!”

Objectification. “Sexy!”

Commands. “Smile!”

Entitlement. “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful! You should say thank you more!”

In addition there was ceaseless whistling, cat-calling and even some light stalking.

The video demonstrates that just for walking from point A to point B, some men believe that women’s bodies and minds should be made accessible to them on command.

“How are you this morning?” Sure this sounds like an innocent greeting but when a man shouts it from across the street it sounds like a demand.

Bliss recorded more than 100 instances of verbal harassment in all, not including winks and whistles.

I would argue that this isn’t a “straight” male problem, it’s simply a male problem. We need to address how we raise our young boys, while teaching them more appropriate methods of interacting with their penises.

This sort of harassment happens to me a lot. Straight men call me a”faggot” all the time. Of course they’re usually behind the wheel of their car, typical cowards, but there have been incidences when a stranger has approached me to utter the most homophobic remarks. The takeaway is that my sexuality is so offensive to them that they must tell me.

But I digress. Let’s return to the subject at hand: Sexual harassment. Gay men, unsurprisingly to me, are just as hypersexual as straight men, the only difference is that they have the permission to act on their desires more readily.

Just this weekend I was at a pub when a man appeared out of nowhere to compliment me on my jeans.

“Thank you,” was my reply.  “I purchased them at Holt Renfrew and they were quite affordable.”

The stranger looked back at me, ignored my statement and continued, “They hug your body nicely. And you have an amazing ass.” Then he departed my company, lingering at my behind as he returned to his table.

Okay so I do have a nice bum, I work out at the gym and squats are part of my regular routine, so thank you for noticing. Is this comment something I should be grateful for? I mean, I didn’t ask for it, I gave the man no indication that I was interested in pursuing a sexual relationship with him, yet he had absolutely no issues with letting me know that he found my looks acceptable to his tastes. The encounter was odd, but something I am accustomed to.

Literally the next day I was out with friends when I was introduced to a man who was running for city council. We talked about the ward he wanted to represent. I thought everything was going really nicely, we had good rapport, he was kind, respectable, what have you. He seemed genuinely surprised with how knowledgeable I was, so much that he confessed, “You’re in the minority, too many voters are ignorant about their municipal politics.”

“Thank you,” I said. “Like a lot of people I know I try to be an informed citizen.”

Then there was an awkward silence that I broke with a discussion about the mayoral race. During my speech (it was a kind of monologue) he interrupted me to say, “You have the perfect nose. How does someone get a nose like that.”

I was genuinely surprised. How did he make that leap? I was in the middle of talking about Olivia Chow, a  mayoral candidate who he apparently worked with once. Now we were talking about my physical appearance? Really?

“Ummm… thank you.” I didn’t know what to say so I blurted, “I was born with this nose.” Then he stared at me, expecting more, I wasn’t sure what else to do; it was clear that our conversation about politics was now over. He wanted something in return for his compliment. I made an excuse to get away from him, and that was that.

The following day the polls opened, so I sent him a note on Twitter saying, “Good luck.” I felt bad for just ditching him the night previous, but the mood of our interaction changed with a judgment on my aesthetic. I thought for a moment that perhaps I had overreacted but I eventually determined that it was best to trust my gut instincts, they’ve never failed me before. He never replied to my tweet.

The first incident that I described here was harassment. I did not ask that man to comment on my bum, and what he expected from me in return was gratitude. No. Just no.

This type of behaviour is prevalent and wildly accepted in the gay community. And having a conversation with gay men, who are rarely critical of their own actions, can be challenging as they don’t see anything wrong with these attitudes that are embraced by their social circles.

The idea is that our entire value as a human being is determined by how attractive we are to other men. Nothing else matters, but that. If you peruse the Instagram accounts of gay men, they’re saturated with nude or shirtless selfies. The statements they’re making are clear: I’m attractive, I’m hot, I look sexy in a bikini brief, therefore I’m important because people find me sexually desirable.

Thing is they’re right. Our worth is determined by how we look. And that’s not a good thing at all. As a result men are rarely challenged by these societal norms, they don’t believe that their behaviour is offensive or degrading. Well, sometimes they do know, but their hubris supercedes their decency.

I thought about how many of my peers would have submitted to the advances of these men who made a value judgment about me based on shallow criteria. To some, it’s considered a sincere form of flattery because it elevates their self-esteem.

So I’ll leave you with this last personal story. A month ago I was walking home from my barbershop, when a man, who was twice my size in height grabbed my arm, looked me up and down, and then said, “Whoa, you’re fucking hot. And that ass, damn, that ass.” I pulled my arm away and continued walking, but he began following me, yelling, “HEY, HEY, I gave you a compliment!”

I felt unsafe, embarrassed and violated. Eventually I stopped a woman on the street and asked her to pretend that we knew each other, whispering that I was trying to shake the man who was following me. She gave me a faux hug and then brought me inside a local store where we waited for the man to leave.

She and I have since met for coffee!

We spoke a long time about similar experiences. We agreed that there has to be a shift with men at some point. They have to help change our culture, but mostly, collectively we have to teach our boys how to control their libidos so that they’re not lechers.

There’s no defence for this kind of harassment. It’s not a compliment. It’s frightening. Why would a man want to make someone feel uncomfortable to satisfy his erection?

Olivia Chow

Toronto votes

Olivia Chow

Today’s the day. In 12 hours Toronto will put an end to Rob Ford’s disastrous tenure as the City’s chief magistrate. Olivia Chow will hopefully be our new mayor. She is an excellent reflection of Toronto and a woman who cares for everyone.

Progress

“It’s the same each time with progress.

First they ignore you.

Then they say you’re mad.

Then dangerous.

Then there’s a pause.

Then you can’t find anyone who disagrees with you.”

~ Tony Benn

Olivia Chow

For those of you who routinely read my blog my love for the city of Toronto comes as no surprise. This is my chosen home, the place where I work and live. There is no greater place to live than Toronto. It is a diverse, friendly and open society where immigrants can begin their new lives filled with hope and possibility.

On October 27 Torontonians will vote for a new mayor. My support is behind the most progressive voice of all the candidates: Olivia Chow. She has the experience, the intelligence and a deep, passionate love for Toronto.

As a first-generation Canadian I have lived through some rocky times; I’ve encountered racism, homophobia and elitism — and I believe that Olivia Chow, who moved to Toronto from China when she was 13-years-old has a thorough understanding of the issues Torontonians — life-long and newly arrived — find essential. This is a peaceful city, and we need a mayor who reflects our values.

I’m posting a couple of short videos of Olivia and her vision for you to watch. If you can, spread the news. I want nothing more than to elect Olivia Chow mayor of Toronto.

North Korea is cray cray

Worth watching when you have time.

Mindful action is key to responsible living

I tried to find a suitable photo for this post, but couldn't. So here I am. Again.

I tried to find a suitable photo for this post, but couldn’t. So here I am. Again.

For every grievance we’ve ever had against those who have wronged us there is always another story. I try to remember this when I think about past conflicts where I feel I’ve been slighted.

As flawed people we do the best with the tools that we have. We’re not perfect, we were raised by imperfect people who are not whole, just as we are not whole.

I’ve maintained for years my annoyance with expectant parents. My argument is that I don’t know one fully functional adult so how can anyone arrogantly believe that they’ll be able to raise one?

Our children, before they enter kindergarten, will learn exclusively from us. They will see how we resolve conflict, what we believe about the world, what religion we follow, our dislikes, our philosophies, and all of this will leave an imprint that they will live with for the rest of their lives.

Being a parent is a serious decision and just because we can do it, doesn’t mean that we should. It requires thought, mindfulness, stability and security. Some of us will arrogantly hold to the notion that we inhabit all of these characteristics, but I doubt any of that to be true.

Couple these imperfections with what’s happening across this planet, and it’s wise to pause when considering building a family.

The battle rages on between Israel and Gaza, ISIS terrorizes Syria and Iraq, Ukraine is being bullied by Russia, North Korea and Iran are arguably developing nuclear weapons, Africa is suffocating in disease and poverty, climate change is changing our landscapes, need I go on? The world is growing increasingly erratic and unstable — in the next 50 years environmental refugees will be a serious global problem, one that was preventable, had it not been for our willful ignorance, greed and selfishness.

These are qualities that we fall back on. To have a family we must not only look to ourselves but to the world around us. We have to see the problems outside of the confines of our own home as our own personal issues, because that’s what they have and will become. How can we positively contribute to a world that we often look at with apathy?

So much of this can be blamed on how we were raised. None of these problems truly existed when we were growing up, but they certainly do now. To be an effective parent we must first free ourselves of a need to be exclusive, to compete and contrast with others. This attitude only serves to hold a space of arrogance.

There are too many global conflicts to consider, but also, our own personal conflicts as well. We get caught up at looking at others with disdain, especially those who we disagree with. We forget, or choose to ignore that they have feelings and insecurities that have been developed by other people in a world that is callously judgmental and unforgiving.

Being alive means being aware that other people exist. They too have fears, hopes, love, all the things that we find important, so do they. If we could be a little more tolerant, even to our enemies, and see them as humans who deserve compassion and kindness, we’d demonstrate to children the foundation of being responsible global citizens.

Thought. Mind. Action. It’s not difficult to achieve. Collectively, it will change the world.