Archive for December, 2006

Poverty Diet

Best diet I’ve ever heard of. It worked well, steady weight loss over time, kept it off well too. The secret? Not having enough money to buy food. Pay the shelter bills first – hopefully you’ve enough for those. Next: feed the kids – peanut butter, pasta, tomato sauce, and dried beans from the food bank. The parenting centre would let me scan their shelves for foods my kids liked. Other places I’d be handed a pre-packed brown bag. Grow a garden for vegetables. In the winter grow sprouts.

No food = no eating = get skinny. No exercise required, though since I didn’t have a car or bus money walking everywhere probably speeded up the process.

This method worked for me and my friend, another single mom. Of course there are side effects: no energy, depression, and hopelessness. And clothes get droopy. But isn’t it worth it to be thin?

Ahhhh those were the days.

Aikido, violence against women, and my daughter’s sensei

Prompted by a discussion with my daughter’s sensei I felt a need to review some violence against women stats. All images in this post are by

Check this out:

in Canada, from WAVAW:

  • One half of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence. Almost 60% of these women were the targets of more than one of these incidents. (Statistics Canada, “The Violence Against Women Survey,” The Daily, November 18, 1993.)
  • One in four Canadian women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. In BC this number is almost double(47%). ( J. Brickman and J. Briere, “Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault in an Urban Canadian Population,” The International Journal of Women’s Studies, Vol. 7, no. 3, 1984.)
  • Sexual assault is not most often committed by strangers who jump out of bushes or wait in alleys for their victims. Over 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.

    in combat

  • Most assaults occur in a private home (60%) and the largest percentage of these occur in the victim’s home(38%). (D. Kinnon, “Report on Sexual Assault in Canada,” Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Ottawa, 1981.)
  • Studies of rapists show that rapists are “ordinary” or “normal” men. The majority of convicted rapists assaulted for the emotion gratification they received from the violent act, not out of sexual frustration. (Helen Lenskyj, “An Analysis of Violence Against Women: A Manual for Educators and Administrators,” Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1992.)
  • Men who commit sexual assault come from every economic, ethnic, racial, age, and social group. As well, women who are sexually assaulted are from every economic, ethnic, racial, age, and social group.
  • Legally, women have the right to say ‘no,’ to any form of sex with anyone, including their spouse or the person they are dating. Sexual assault within relationships has been illegal in Canada since 1983, however many people still do not recognize it as a crime. Even within a relationship, each partner must give consent each time sexual relations occur.
  • Legally, a woman has the right to change her mind about having sex at any point of sexual contact. If her partner does not stop at the time she changes her mind and says ‘no,’ this is sexual assault. As well, just because a woman is in a relationship with someone or has sex with a person before, does not mean that person cannot assault her. Consent must be given every time two people engage in sexual contact.
  • According to Statistics Canada, in the year 2000, sexual assault came in third for the highest number of violent crimes committed in Canada. The number of assaults committed accounted for the highest number of violent crimes.
  • Anyone can be sexually assaulted. However, most sexual assaults that occur are against women and are perpetrated by men.

and in the United States, from the Kansas District Attorney’s office website:

  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more then car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
    “Violence Against Women, A Majority Staff Report,” Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 102nd Congress, October 1992, p. 3
  • About 1 out of 4 women are likely to be abused by a partner in her lifetime.
    Sara Glazer, “Violence Against Women” CQ Researcher, Congressional Quarterly, Inc., Volume 3, Number 8, February, 1993, p. 171
  • One women is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States
    Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991.
  • Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands or male lovers.
    “Women and Violence,” Hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, August 29 and December 11, 1990, Senate Hearing 101-939, pt. 1, p. 12.

  • Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels and ages are battered by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners.
    For Shelter and Beyond, Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups, Boston, MA 1990.

I’ve seen these state before. And I figured someone who teaches defense classes would be familiar with them too. class But sometimes, just when you think someone is all enlightened and that there’s hope for the planet you talk to them and you find out that enlightenment is categorical. They may be great at meditating and teaching traditional techniques but when it comes to applying it to the contemporary world maybe it’s more abstract and theoretical than useful in a practical way. I’ve discovered that there’s a divide between the theory and practice of aikido…

My daughter has been doing aikido for about a year and a half now. She loves it. There are lots of girls in her class of age 10-13 kids and although most of the adults are male there are 2 adult-late teens women with black or brown belts who assist and make good role models along with the men who are also great at what they do. I’ve talked to the sensei on several occasions and he’s got a great philosophy of teaching and the kids love him. I think the classes are valuable for her. It’s just really unfortunate that sensei’s knowledge about the type of violence women face isn’t all that current.

Actiongirls has been talking about the various self-defense courses available around campus and nothing has really caught our fancy yet. I knew that sensei had started teaching some woman in combat self-defense classes for women for the parks and rec department and approached him about maybe doing an one day workshop for our club. We specifically want strategies for dealing with the most common type of attacks that women face – not the ones that are perpetuated in myths. So I told sensei that the members of the club want to learn to protect ourselves for real life situations, for example, in a car or in bed — to which he replied “woooahh what are you doing in bed with someone then?” Uh duh?? most women do not planned to be raped. I mean, if we did, maybe we could just change our plans and stay home and bake.

So sensei told me about purse snatching strategies and parking garages and walking down the street defense techniques, saying women need to use their brains and not put themselves in dangerous situations, this being the best way to not get attacked. Good grief. Blame the victim and disregard that the majority of attacks take place in the home with someone the woman knows.

So no, sensei wasn’t arguing with me but just telling me what he teaches. Too bad it’s woman with bokken not going to be useful to the majority of women and ignores the violence against women stats. The problem is that a sensei is an authority figure. People listen to him – especially his students. If a woman takes his self-defense class and he tells her to avoid walking down the sidewalk, going to parking garages, and other “dangerous places” she might do this. But it tells her it’s her own fault for being a woman, perpetuates stereotypes of women needing protection, and gives her a false sense of security that now that she can escape a purse snatcher she is “safe”. It’s not going to help her at all for the types of attacks she is most likely to face. In this regard, sensei is misleading.

We’re still looking for a useful self-defense class. One that doesn’t blame women and prepares them for the type of violence they are actually likely to face. If anyone has a recommendation I’d be happy to have it. Maybe there are materials so we could do our own?

Thanks again to for the great CC-licensed photos.

No amount of capsaicin

No amount of capsaicin will kill this cold. At this point, officially Day 3, I’ve lost my appetite anyway though if someone wanted to make me a bowl of spicy lentil soup I would give eating it my best effort. I’ve drained a bottle of hot sauce and it doesn’t seem to have done a thing.

This happens every end of semester it seems. I think I’ve even written that before. I’m fairly certain that this time it isn’t stress but because I froze riding my bike home on Monday but maybe I was actually sick before that since I remember being freezing while studying at the U and not even taking off my coat while I was there.

I had to skip volunteering in my daughter’s class today. Last thing I figure the kids in her class would want is to spend their 2-week holiday sick like me. Rather than go in and spread my germs there I decided to put together her new loft bed. That went alright since it came on the heels of a hot shower with eucalyptus soap. Gee it felt nice to breathe. Unfortunately there was a lot of dust and it’s done me in. I’m planning to take another gram or two of vitamin C, another dose of echincacea/goldenseal tincture and sleep for half an hour before I have to go over to the university to do a pick up. Unfortunately I was too sick last night to finish the marking or else I could have dropped those papers at the same time. Maybe I’ll try really quick to finish them now instead of sleeping…. /sigh/ workaholic.

I did have a marvelous birthday. Rob took me to dinner and we had huge amounts of roasted garlic and a very very very spicy stir fry with tofu that was so good. Buffy Season 2 episodes 1-6 were as good as I’d hoped and the cozy flannel pajamas Rob gave me must mean that I can wear flannel in front of him now. I struggle to stay warm. He says I have no blood, and I figure that must be why I like Buffy tVS so much.

How many rainbows does it take?

Happy Birthday to me. I have a bit of a cold but I’m dosing with mega-Vitamin C and echinacea-goldenseal tincture. I wrote my last exam today, I proctored the exam for the last class as TA for the semester and I’m about halfway through the marking. Later Rob is taking me for dinner and there will be Buffy the Vampire Slayer before the night is through. My father called and sang me the hb song — at a wrong number unfortunately, but still, cute story.

All these good things — so why does one shitty thing bring it all crashing down?

Dropping off the lunch bags for my kids at their dad’s, I’m on the porch, the kids are in the doorway saying hi and happy birthday to me. My youngest tells me that I can come to the school tonight and see his art, that there’s an open house of sorts. As he’s telling me, dad grabs a note, hands it to me and shuts the door saying “the note just came today”. Boom goes the door. No goodbyes, nothing.

Doesn’t matter that it’s my birthday, doesn’t matter that I have so many great things in my life. It doesn’t seem like there’s ever enough sunshine to make a rainbow when I leave there.

If you feel the urge to wish me an hb in the comments, I’ve turned off the captcha because I heard it was giving people a rough time. I’m going to try and forget about this and enjoy my night — goddess knows I’ve let that man make me miserable enough for one lifetime.

My kids come home tomorrow and we’ll have a good time. I just hate that I let him get me down and that the kids watch people get treated this way.

Good things

I am in such a wonderfully good place right now. There are still enough days between now and due dates that I’m not yet in full freakout, and I am surrounded by the most wonderful and caring people anyone could know. It began yesterday with some sweet things my kids said, then I was surprised late at night with warm sticky rice in coconut milk topped with cashews and a glass of good wine. Today this was followed up with kids who are excited to be learning to write secret codes in binary/ascii, who laugh, joke around and tell me they love me, and finally an end of semester party with Actiongirls and the Women’s Studies Student Association. These men and women are fun, intelligent, committed to social justice, the environment, feminism, and friendship. It feels so good to be a part of the group. Thank you Carol, Aubrey, Tina, Mike, Edith, David, Allison, Catherine, and Korinne. As for the party: good food, soooo much garlic, and a great theme picked out for next semester’s art-performance-extravaganza: Cliterature! Call for submissions coming out supersoon… stay tuned.

Too Socialist

I seem to be in a perpetual struggle for a secular education for my kids at the local public school. This past week my daughter brought home a spelling worksheet with the sentence “Insects are one of the many creatures God created. The word insects was underlined to be replaced with one of the list words. The sentence was also used on the test at the end of the week.

I complained (again) about religion in public schools and about the school teaching creationism, the teacher responded that I was surely exaggerating — that this was hardly creationism. I think “God created” is very clear creationism. Next he said that I can hardly hope to expunge god from everthing — but in a public school I certainly can and do expect a secular education for my children. Next there was something about him being a geologist… and he grudgingly apologized.

My friend in Toronto ran into another religion-in-the-public-school incident when she attended the Remembrance Day assembly with her son at his school where she is a volunteer. The school choir sang a United Church hymn filled with references to god as a male figure.

Later, she talked to the teacher about why they chose this song given all the songs written about creating peace in the world. The school is diverse and is part of the Toronto public board. Religion is not a part of the curriculum, including teaching god as a male deity. She learned that the original choice of songs for the kids was “If I had a Hammer” but the principal had vetoed it because it was too socialist. Full lyrics to If I had a Hammer here. I cannot believe that promoting Chrisitianity over socialism (if the song can even be labeled that) is happening, here, in 2006. What’s wrong with socialism?? And the only answer for choosing the hymn was that the kids knew it already.

The choir also sang an edited version of John Lennon’s Imagine with the line about “And no religion too” removed (full lyrics to Imagine here.) I cannot imagine why they’d edit it out — it’s a great song about peace and I think it’s a good point that religion divides people. It certainly happens in the schools here with there being two separate systems of publicly funded education: one Catholic and one for everyone else. It’s very divisive – ask the kids who go or went to one of the split schools where the two boards share a building.

What is so wrong about If I had a Hammer? And will we ever secure secular public education for our children?

And today is December 6

Today is December 6, 2006. It is 17 years after the day a gunman shot and killed 14 women at École Polytechnique in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Thirteen were students and one was an employee of the university. Today we remember these victims of gendered violence and reflect on women everywhere who are victims of gendered violence. The Montréal Massacre was not an isolated event. There are many women suffering today for the sole reason that they are women. For some it’s because of war, others face sexist laws, religions, and customs. Some are somewhere at the wrong time, like the women who were in class and on campus on December 16, 1989. Others are victims of repeated violence in their homes, at work, and in their neighbourhoods, by family and people they know. Think of them all today.

The Fourteen Not Forgotten

Geneviève Bergeron b. 1968 – civil engineering student
Hélène Colgan b. 1966 – mechanical engineering student
Nathalie Croteau b. 1966 – mechanical engineering student
Barbara Daigneault b. 1967 – mechanical engineering student
Anne-Marie Edward b. 1968 – chemical engineering student
Maud Haviernick b. 1960 – materials engineering student
Maryse Laganière b. 1964 – budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
Maryse Leclair b. 1966 – materials engineering student
Anne-Marie Lemay b. 1967 – mechanical engineering student
Sonia Pelletier b. 1961 – mechanical engineering student
Michèle Richard b. 1968 – materials engineering student
Annie St-Arneault b. 1966 – mechanical engineering student
Annie Turcotte b. 1969 – materials engineering student
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz b. 1958 – nursing student

Bonnie spoke for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter back in 1989 following the Massacre, “Many women have paid a high price for equality and liberty in our struggle. We call on men to tell each other that you have no permission to commit any act of violence against women.”

Please, remember these women, and what Bonnie said. It is needed as much today as ever.

Revised to add: You can read last year’s memorial post here.