Sex. It drives us, makes us who we are. I write it and I have a lot of opinions about it. And about other things--everything from movies to politics to education. In fact, after several months absence I've come to realize that I am no sex-pert and that my opinions and passions are far too varied to limit myself to only sexual issues. So....since this is my blog, I figure I should be able to voice my opinions about whatever I please.
If that makes me a be it!

So read, comment, ask questions, rant and rave...but most of all enjoy and open your mind to possibilities!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Burqa bashing (aka the anti-PRIDE!)

Today on the way in to work I happened across a lovely young family. Well...the husband and children seemed healthy and happy, as to the woman however it was difficult to tell since all I could see were her eyes. She sported a very attractive and so much...burqua, while her husband and children were decked out in t-shirts, jeans and shorts. The weather today, by the way, topped out at over 40 degrees celsius with the humidex. I can scarcely imagine the sauna that woman experienced every time she walked outside.  However, her physical discomfort was the least of my reasons for becoming instantly upset.

When I walked in to work I shared my frustration with my colleagues, saying how just the sight of a woman in a burqa is enough to make my blood boil. I didn't feel I had to expand on my reasons, however when one young colleague commented, "What gives you the right to judge them? It's their culture," my defense mechanisms kicked in. My initial knee-jerk reaction was, that "I can judge them if I damn well please. And it being their "culture" is no justification nor excuse for such mysogyny." I said that the burqa is inherently mysogynistic, and, since I really prefer not to get into this kind of debate at work with someone that I really do like and respect...I left it at that.  And so did she.

However, that little exchange continued to nag at me. Arguments and justifications continued to ramble through my brain. Things I would have liked to have said. Things like:
"Is culture a valid reason for accepting female genital mutilation? For a woman having to spend her life peeing through a hole the approximate diameter of a toothpick?"
"Does culture give the Chinese license to abandon or kill their infant daughters because they really want a boy?
"Was culture a valid reason for apartheid in South Africa and the overt oppression and subjugation of the blacks?"
"Was culture a reason to accept slavery in the American south?"

And that's when it hit me. That is exactly the reason that culture is NO excuse to accept such injustices, and that's because SLAVERY is exactly what we're talking about here. Some may argue that these women are making a choice to follow their religion and its traditions. But whether that's true or not, the simple fact is that the vast majority of women are not free to make the alternate choice. Can a woman in Saudi Arabia decide on a particularly hot day that she would prefer to not wear the burqua? That she would like to go shopping without her husband for a change? Drive a car? Go to school? NO! The consequences of such a decision would be almost certain physical abuse and possible death.

How about that woman that I saw--here in Canada? Could she turn around and say to her husband that she has decided the burqa is no longer for her? That she would really like to wear a bikini to the beach tomorrow. She would likely not face execution, but I suspect the ramifications would be almost as dire, and she would certainly lose access to everything that she loves.

And what of the teenage girls in the United States, who tried to put some distance between themselves and their parents' traditions, by going out with their friends and behaving like the other teenagers that they knew? Who enjoyed spending time with boys and not wearing their burqa? Those girls that ended up strangled at the hands of the fathers who had raised and professed to love them?

This is no "choice". This is SLAVERY! There is no other word for it. Certainly there are cultures that live very strange and even somewhat annoying lifestyles. The Amish whose buggies tie up traffic on the roads in my region. The Mormons who still practice polygamy. Or the Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse to celebrate holidays like their neighbours. These are curiosities, certainly. And in some cases I would seriously question their choices, since they're not made on accurate information and education, but rather on a lack of information and blind faith. However, I will defend very vocally their right to make these choices, because they can walk AWAY from these situations at any time of their choosing. Because while some of them may face significant emotional consequences like alienation from beloved family members, I do not believe that any of them face bodily or mortal harm for such a decision. This is the crux of slavery.--enforced subjugation of one group by another, without recourse or means of escape.

And where else in the world do we tolerate slavery these days? Nowhere.

There are a scant few women in the world who choose to wear the burqa because this is truly an educated and well-informed choice. However, I believe such a choice is an affront and an insult to the THOUSANDS of women for whom the burqa is a souce and symbol of oppression and a license for physical abuse. To choose to wear it is akin to taking up a placard and declaring your allegiance to mysogyny and exploitation.

The burqa is tolerated under the guise of religious and cultural tolerance. But I would counter that to accept the burqa under the auspices of "cultural tolerance" is merely a mask for apathy, ignorance and indifference.

For any who are interested I would highly recommend reading INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It is a provocative and moving account of one woman's battle against and eventual escape from the tyranny of the burqa. She now lives in hiding and in constand fear of her life in the USA.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Full of PRIDE

On Sunday July 4th (Happy Independence Day to all my American friends and fans!!) I attended the 30th Annual Toronto Gay Pride Parade! It was my second time to attend the mammoth event, but it is always surprising and full of eye-popping and heart warming images, some of which I'm sharing with you here today.

But first a few interesting statistics about Toronto Pride:
Toronto Pride is now the largest Gay Pride Parade in the world! This statistic being based on the number and variety of entries in the parade, parade route, length and number of attendees. This parade now attracts approximately 4 MILLION visitors and is just a small part of the enormous event that is Pride Week. There are concerts, family activities, vendors and other parades too numerous to mention.

What I find so exciting about the parade, and what stokes my own pride in my home country, is the sheer variety of entries. Not only are there gay clubs, AIDS hospices, and fetish fairs and stores represented, but EVERY major political party had a presence. There were several big name banks (Toronto Dominion being an enormous presence) and even the military takes part in the parade and also has a recruiting booth. The police are not only very busy and visible during pride week and in the parade, but their excitement and commitment to the project is displayed prominently by the rainbow buttons and beads that many of them choose to wear. And yes, as you will see, even many churches participate!

But the other thing that really strikes me about the parade and the week in general, is how free people are to be themselves. It is common place to see men or women holding hands or kissing each other affectionately on the street. To me, the crazy get-ups and eye-popping outfits, while they're all part and parcel of the theme of being yourself and being proud of it, come in a distant second to this simple display of freedom and acceptance. If only it could be so all year round.

And now...the pics:
The crowd along Yonge St. is just starting to build.

My "Pride Buddy" and me. In order to be sure to get a spot right at the barrier, we took our spot an hour ahead of the 2:00 start time. Even so, we had to jostle a bit to get in!

Rainbow coloured confetti is thrown from the roof tops.

Good Handy's provided the parade marshall for the day. Good Handy's is "Toronto's Pansexual Playground," and a spot that I'm not sure even I would brave to set foot in!

A lot of very short shorts along the parade route. As well as a lot of very HIGH boots!
A LOT of bare bums and harnesses.

Struck by the variety of body types that flaunted their stuff without any sign of self consciousness. That's what Pride is all about, after all.
The "Fag Bug". Visit and see what it's all about.

Some really amazing gowns. Not sure I'd wear them to the Christmas party but still....

The Totally Naked Toronto (TNT) men were a presence.
Not a traditional uniform, and I'm sure the majority of police are grateful.
Just a couple guys holding hands.
This costume was made entirely of plastic packing material. I can only imagine how hot it was.
Humidex hit 40C today.
It's that alien chick (well in this case that isn't exactly accurate-can you see the dangly bits?) from Empire Strikes Back!
I have no idea what the significance of the bubble was.
A variety of fruit were represented.
More guys holding hands. A lot of funky wigs, as well.
Just a really cool costume.
Just some really hot guys.
Yes, there were a number of children in the parade.
The clergy shared space with....
the kinky.
This was a new fetish for me. Gas masks that control air flow.
Throughout the parade there were these signs denoting various moments in Gay Pride history.
The Trojan Guys.

So, all in all a good time! Albeit a tad long. Longest parade in history, clocking in at a whopping THREE-AND-A-HALF hours! We didn't stick it out quite to the end. I think that's a lot to ask of anyone standing in one place. lol