And then I learned some very important lessons: 2015

For the last few years I have endeavoured to write posts about things that I learned in the previous year at this time of year. So, what to write?

This year has been a lot of learning. I quit my first job this year which was an event that was built up with a lot of hype and a lot of hope.

I have always been a person who approached things with what is probably too much thought and attention, fixated on all the good bits and even more fixated on the bad bits. The bad bits have had the ability to effectively control my mind, spinning me into deep, dark places where I didn’t know how to emerge again or how to fix things…until a seemingly miraculous reawakening happens from which I return to my “normal self” where I am the cheerful, chatty girl.

This year I took notice of that. This year, the big question I consistently asked myself was about other people. In particular, I asked myself how people remain, seemingly, hopeful and happy despite the absolute, utter bullshit happening around them?

I read a book about the Dalai Lama earlier this year. It was chosen because the Dalai Lama’s story reads like hocus pocus and believe me when I say I die for a bit of magical story telling. So, I chose to read this book about the Dalai Lama when I wanted to read a book about meditation and its roots.

Maybe that’s when the question first actually struck me, because how in the hell does the Dalai Lama hold himself out as a “professional laugher” while the country with which he has been tasked with protecting has been in a state of conflict so severe that he has been living in exile since 1959? He has said

I have been confronted with difficult circumstances throughout the course of my life, and my country is going through a critical period. But I laugh often, and my laughter is contagious.

The utter honestly and simplicity of that statement was enough to stop me. Whether you are able to believe in reincarnation and the divinity of the Dalai Lama or not, he ultimately is simply a human, with human feelings and a human disposition. With my human feelings and human disposition, I have been capable of near paralysis when I wondered whether or not my sister’s boyfriend truly liked me or whether the people at my former job would hate me or talk smack about me over board room drinks. And so, I set out to learn how, in all of my innate cheerfulness, I can be so devastated by the simplest and most unimportant notions, while there are humans on the Earth who coin themselves “professional laughers” amid violent, suppressive, anti-religion oppression. In the first 20 years of the conflict, 1.2 million Tibetans died. The Dalai Lama was 24 years old at the time of his exile. He is now 80 years old, and he remains in exile. And yet, he is a professional laugher.

So, how then, am I so capable of sadness? This was the question I tried to learn the answer to in 2015.

I practiced yoga: poses and meditation. In the poses, I was often distracted. In meditation, I was full-on hateful, comparing my inability to clear my mind of all but the present in-breath and out-breath to my inability in all other areas of my life. I relived breakups, educational failures, lost friendships, family members with whom I was no longer close, and my assumed failings as a professional. I would leave meditation feeling so angry and small that I eventually stopped going.

A teacher later recommended I try out a few different books on meditation. I did. I tried them. And I went back to meditation to actively practice what I read. And today, I am a work in progress.

I have learned that as this girl, this human that I am, I will inevitably have the luxury of feeling. And I can either dwell in my feelings, or I can experience them for all that they are – in their bright, acceptable brilliance, or in their negative, hopeless sadness. When I dwell in either, I don’t actually get to experience the beauty of right now. And there is lot there – in right now – which is worth experiencing.

I have learned that nothing is stable, but rather that inherent in life is an instability that is part of life, and if I lean in to all of that instability without requiring happiness or joy or any particular emotion, I will experience the moments, those infuriating or maybe really beautiful moments, of instability, and then I will be living, awakening to right now.

I have learned that in all of life’s instability, if we place too much expectation in how much better things could be, we will get clouded and be unable to see that right where we are is the perfect moment. It’s life and it’s simple. It might be funny or painful. But whatever it is, it won’t last forever. And so, I have learned that a lack of expectation, that a hopelessness is grounding, because it is right here that is perfect. It is the perfect moment right here.

I have learned that all of my thoughts are just thoughts – the good and the bad, the joyful and the depressing. They are all equal, part of my humanness and part of what makes this moment the moment, the perfect moment. So, when I try to fall asleep at night, or try to meditate when I’m unfocussed, as my thoughts arise I notice them all equally – because they are all equal, none bad, none particularly good, all just a part of my human experience.

So, when I sit at my desk at the office, frustrated (as people become while sitting at their desks at the office), I try and pull of all of this in, because it is not just that I have learned a few techniques for meditation. Rather, I have learned about life – through a certain lens.

When I read the news over morning coffee and eggs, and I come across a devastating story about a Canadian pastor who has been sentenced to life with hard labour in North Korea, or scroll Facebook to see the heartbreaking status updates about intolerance of refugees, I try to recall that in our humanness, we will all make mistakes. Then, I try to recall that the grief and sadness caused by those mistakes is not outweighed by the amazing story of human capacity and ability in the 26-year old man who lived for six months alone on a remote lake in the North West Territories or the story about a couple who gave up their dream wedding to pay for a Syrian refugee family to resettle in Canada.

You see, what I learned this year was that in our humanness we will all do bad or good, and we will all feel amazing or like bottom feeders, but that through those things there is an ability to remain on this middle, balancing point where we accept the inherent instability of life, of the other people around us, and of our ever-changing human emotions and, just the same, we can recognize that the same is true for all of those people who are around us.

If someone who has had to bury the very people he was tasked with protecting can be a professional laugher, maybe so can I. The beauty is in the breakdown, or when things fall apart, or in the very destruction and recapitulation of yourself. That’s what I learned this year.

Staying silent no longer: all of these lives matter

Recall the proverbial wisdom that certain things should never be discussed at the dinner – politics, religion, money. At some point, although we may conduct ourselves conscientiously at the dinner table, when social media entered our lives we went absolutely socially insane.

Following the horrific shootings and bombings in Paris on Friday night, those opposed to Justin Trudeau’s pledge to bring in 25,000 on an accelerated basis have had the flames of their firy opinions stoked. Opinions that one would never say in polite company are typed with a fury of typos and mis – or no – information. Opinions that are based on fear, but not certainly not based on law, swirl in the abyss of what at least reads as the self-satisfaction that not all people are deserving of the same things. Some people are just refugees and if we have to wait for passports, why shouldn’t they?

I admit that I cannot explain to you why I care. I make a negative inference when I see status updates and tweets that are premised in selfishness and negativity. I assume the remarks aren’t made with a full arsenal of research and courses but rather a flash-in-the-pan emotional reaction to something. So I don’t know why I care – except that I suppose it hurts me to think that on this issue of broad human rights – where the stakes are truly life or death – people would rather stay in a cocoon of warmth and ignorance. I worry about these opinions being passed on to little children who will only learn of cruelness and selfishness when it is taught to them. I worry about the opinions passing along to representatives in the House of Commons and having the process delayed – because every delay means actual lives are ended. Lives and lights put out in a war torn world.

To take a moment to be personal, I open up to you that I am doing my best to learn about and to practice ahimsa, or the practice of non-violence. Teachers and authors have informed my view of this. Non-violence includes the obvious things like not harming, killing, stealing or lying to people, and it additionally includes not being aggressive with ourselves and instead being loving and compassionate with ourselves and all people.

So, as the Facebook posts trickled through my news feed, I tried to act in a non-aggressive way. I was compelled to author furious responses citing international law obligations and the actual definition of a refugee. I refrained. I was dying to tell the intolerant, fear-mongering big shots that they had no idea what they were talking about. I refrained, thinking this is the best way for me to practice non-violence.

However, a line from favourite song of mine by rapper and host of Q, Shad K, kept replaying in my mind – over and over:

We only feel better when we feel like we’re better than
Clever men and our violence
Silence is when we shoot from the lip too quiet
Then we talk non-violence and stay silent when it suits
Really, it’s all violence at the root

Should I really say nothing? Am I doing more violence by staying silent, not trying to be mean, not trying to rock the boat?

I conclude it must be more harmful for me to talk non-violence but stay silent when it suits.

Here are some facts about refugees.

Refugees are not really “immigrants” in the way we typically understand that word. We can perceive of immigrants as people who apply to come and live in a place like Canada and satisfy a series of requirements in order to be permitted to live and work here. Refugees occupy an entirely different category of eligibility. A person is a “refugee” or an “asylum seeker” when they meet the definition set out by the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. A refugee is someone who

“owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

Allowing refugees to land in Canada is factually entirely different than getting a passport. When you get a passport your objective is to travel in various countries. When you claim asylum, your goal is to escape the persecution that would otherwise mean you will very likely be killed.

In Canada, up until this change in government, legislation was often drafted that had the effect of violating Canada’s international obligations of non-refoulement: to not return an asylum seeker to the land from which they flee.

The Government of Canada has a process through which refugees are screened. You can read about it here and here.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives certain rights to everyone, including the right to religion, liberty and security of the person. That is the Canada that we talk about. Whether you like it or not, at law, Canada has established itself as a country that believes there everyone deserves certain basic rights. This is the Canada where we will host and protect asylum seekers.

I have read about people who are scared for their children who will have to grow up in a world where we accept refugees who might be terrorists, or where we help refugees but we do not ensure the homeless are off the streets. Ossie Michelin recently wrote that:

“This is not an either or scenario, it’s not a competition and there is no pot of money that can either go to the homeless or to refugees. We have the means and the ability to help these refugees, just as we have the means and abilities to help the homeless and the needy in our own home. There is no reason why we can’t help both.”

He’s right. There is room for all. Literally. The population density in Canada is 4 people per square kilometer. There are literally kilometers and kilometers and kilometers in which these people can live. And I’m willing to bet out of the 25,000 we will find people who have amazing skills – skills like medicine, engineering, teaching, carpentry, music. And gratitude. I’m willing to place my money on the fact that the asylum seekers given refuge in Canada will be ebbing with gratitude. With a desire to contribute.

Law is made up. It is effectively all a fiction. But regardless of that, it is a fiction which we have ascribed certain values to. Law and policy does not become real by virtue of fears or assumptions. In law, “nothing becomes a fact until [the trier of fact] finds it to be so.”

So, with that in mind, the irrational fears about refugees being terrorists: not based on fact. The absurd argument that we shouldn’t provide refuge for asylum seekers while we still have homeless people: not based on fact. The overarching panic and disdain of that which is different: not based on fact. And mostly, the worry that your children are growing up in a terrible world, where our left-wing government is just handing terrorists the keys to the kingdom: not based on fact.

What is a fact is that there are asylum seekers out there and they are dying every single damn day.

Hellish fact, that one. A fact that we are in a position to change. A fact that our government has said we will contribute to changing. Now that’s a good fact.

I’m not sure what happened to the etiquette that we grew up with, where we don’t talk about politics, or money, or religion at the table. I’m not sure how it came to pass that while we don’t do that, we care to scream our close-minded and cruel feelings by way of status update to 800 of our closest friends. I’m not sure. But as long as we’re doing it, here is my two-cents. I’m not staying silent when it suits.

“Land You Love” should make us all proud – no matter your political stripe

In an excerpt from the book Stephen Harper by John Ibbitson, the author writes “[W]hen Harper is really angry at you, he’s very calm. He looks you straight in the eye and tells you how you’ve failed him, and if you are a faithful follower, you simply want to die. The state beyond that is even worse. He simply cuts you out. He doesn’t speak to you, doesn’t reply to your messages, freezes you out of meetings. At this point, you should be pursuing a new career opportunity.”

Although this remark may seem biased in a certain direction, when read in its entirety, the article is outrightly neutral; a seemingly balanced analysis of the man that is our Prime Minister. The article begins with “He is a lion in autumn, weaker than in his prime, but still a force of nature. He faces his fifth, and perhaps final, test as national leader. But in a way, the result won’t matter. Whether Stephen Harper wins or loses the general election of October 19 is moot. He has already reshaped Canada. And Canada will not easily be changed back.”

This is inevitably true, and while not a glowing appraisal of the man, it certainly hits the point on the head.

In the last few days (at the time of writing, Vimeo stated it was 5 days ago) Hey Rosetta! and Yukon Blonde released a song entitled “Land You Love”. The song is a plea to citizens to “Please visit VOTETOGETHER.CA and vote to avoid another tragic Harper government”, with lyrics containting a plethora of the sadder truths from the last decade of Conservative rule: the missing and murdered aboriginal women who are “forsaken, forgotten and lost” and the Harper Government’s insistence on omnibus bills where issues are “hid in their bills, pushed through and hushed up”.

The song features 12 Canadian musicians, with layered guitars, piano, and shakers, singing together and creating a big, folksy sound like you might expect to hear at a house party. The voices are inviting with all the many lines to sing and harmonies you can take. The video is fun to watch, with a split screen and gimmicks involving guitars and sparkles.

However accessible and appealing the song may be, though, I suggest to you that the real beauty in the song is not in the music, the video, or even in the lyrics alone.

The deepest nuance of the piece is not in the use of darkness and light to represent despair that can become hope. It’s not in the cross-screen sharing of guitars between guitarists Adam Hogan and Brandon Scott showing the interconnectedness of the east and the west. It’s not even in the catchy motive or the words that make up the chorus, which, between the two, make you to just need to sing along.

No, the deepest beauty in the song is the bridge between the artists’ craft and their deep appreciation and respect for their rights. Hey Rosetta! and Yukon Blonde sing this song despite a history of Stephen Harper wreaking havoc on the lives of those who speak out against him. They engage in their right to freedom of expression irrespective of any consequences that should fall if the Conservatives are reelected.

And with a history of Harper’s blame and disregard for the arts, it certainly appears to be a risk they did indeed run. Consider people like Federal scientist, Tony Turner, who was “put on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation for creating a politically charged protest song about ousting Conservative Leader Stephen Harper”. Consider the cuts to the Canadian Broadcasting Company – cuts which were accompanied by Harper’s assertion that the company’s ratings were floundering. The CEO of the CBC-Radio Canada, Hubert Lacroix, has publicly stated this is untrue and that “I’m going to tell you it’s not because of our ratings that we have a problem at CBC-Radio Canada”.

So amongst this backdrop, where artists have every right to think they might be the next on the chopping block for Harper, to hear “Land You Love” is moving. In the very execution of their plea, they show us what it means to have a right of freedom of expression. They show us what it means to speak up for what they believe in. 

They show us how important so many of their rights are: the freedom of conscience; the freedom of thought, belief and opinion; and the freedom to vote. No matter your political stripe, I don’t know how you can say that Hey Rosetta! and Yukon Blond are, in this moment, anything other than absurdly, wonderfully, pride-inducingly Canadian.

Source: exclaim.ca

Source: exclaim.ca

Of little girls and hurt fingers and rising again.

I grew up on the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada.  As is common along the eastern seaboard in this part of world, during the falls of my childhood we would get hurricane related weather, be it hurricanes or tropical storms.  One fall day as a young girl, there was a late hurricane.  During lunch hour I went with my father, my elementary school gym teacher, to the post office before the afternoon session started again.  I hopped out of the car – eager as an eight year-old to be the one to unlock our post office box – and the hurricane-power winds took the car door out of my hand and slammed my eight year-old finger in the door.

That hurt.  I could be mistaken, but I believe we did not bother to get the mail the day.  My dad, my hero, hockey coach, all around favourite guy, took me up to my small town’s hospital.  I don’t remember there being an “ER”, as such, in the Twillngate hospital, though I’m sure there was.  He took me up there and we went to see the doctor who put a little needle into my fingernail and all the blood came pouring out.

I don’t remember if we were late for school.  I know we went back there: me, the little grade two or three, and my dad, the gym teacher, and we both went about our days.

That evening, I went to hockey.  At the time, I was the only little girl who played hockey in the area, thanks to my progressive mom and dad who, when I said my feet were cold during figure skating, put me in hockey to see if that ice sport would be any better for their winter baby who loved to be on ice.

Here I am, age 7, with Leafs star Gary Roberts.

Here I am, age 7, with Leafs star Gary Roberts.

I went to hockey that evening and most of the practice was a scrimmage.  To this day, my dad talks about how I went to hockey that night and I scored two goals.  I was the only girl, and I scored two goals.

As a little person, you don’t think about being a boy or a girl.  As a little person, that night, I didn’t think about how my finger had gotten slammed in hurricane-force winds.  I have no idea what I thought about.

I might have been thinking about the Lime Crush I knew I was going to get after hockey, because every night after hockey practice my dad used to take me to Champion Charlies and he would get me a soda pop.  In my house, we didn’t get pop very often, but I always got one after hockey that I would drink in my basement while my dad helped take my hockey gear off.

I might have been thinking about my friend, Nick Styles.  Now that I’m 28, I can tell you that Nick just loved life.  When I was eight, all I could have told you was that Nick was hyper.  He used to score goals on the wrong team.  During scrimmage, he would score goals on his own goalie.  But he was my friend, and my dad, who was my coach, usually put Nick on my team.  So maybe I was thinking about Nick and how I really needed to score some goals.

Maybe I was thinking about the boys on my team who were in my class, and how I wanted them to think I was cool or a good hockey player.  Maybe I was thinking how I didn’t want them to tease me, the only girl on the team, who had to dress in a different room, and who wore glasses and had a mushroom cut.  Maybe I wanted Nathan, and Jason, and my cousin Kirk to think I was actually cool.

Like I said, I have no idea what I thought about.

However, now that I’m 28, I know what I didn’t think about.  I did not think I am too hurt to do it.  I didn’t think that I was a girl, and less good in any event.  I didn’t think I was broken now and that I had never been quite good enough, and now I was just extra not good enough.

I didn’t tell my dad, No, I’m actually not able to go tonight. I didn’t tell the rest of my team – the boys – that I wouldn’t be any good tonight.  I just went.  I did the job that I had to do.  And I survived it.  Go figure.

Tonight, I slammed my finger in the door of a room in my home.  It really, really hurt.  It didn’t fill with blood that needed to be drained, but it did hurt. When it wouldn’t stop hurting, I decided I would watch Netflix and I would ice my finger and I would drink a beer – as if the alcohol would go straight to my digit and cure the stupid pain that was resonating in my fingernail.  I proceeded to tell my boyfriend, my sister, and my friend Melissa.  I committed to a night of catching up on television.

Then on Facebook I saw a post about a  friend’s child who has diabetes.  Tomorrow, the child will be getting an insulin pump.  The parents have a Belle doll ready who also has an insulin pump to help the daughter through it.  To help her think, this is ok and normal and fine even if it’s painful.

And then there’s me, watching Netflix on the couch because I hurt my finger.  When I did the same 20 years ago, I scored two girls during a game of scrimmage when I was the only girl on the ice.

It’s funny.  When we’re children, it’s not even that we’re resilient.  I think what it is is that we keep seeing all the things that we want to do.  In my case, I wanted to play hockey, I wanted the boys to know I was just as good even though I had to change in a different change room (and this, even though, at the time, little girls and little boys don’t even know why they were changing separate and apart from one another).  When it came to be being a little girl in minor hockey, I only knew I was different because I was told I was, and I didn’t want it to matter.  I didn’t care that I had a hurting finger, even though you hold your hockey stick with your fingers – be they hurting or not!  I just wanted to go and live my life, unimpaired by this stupid thing that had happened, this stupid hurricane that had blown the car door on my finger.

How different.  How different from when we are grown and we become willing to be hurt.  Hurt by bad grades, by bullies, by broken hurts.  We tell ourselves we are, in fact, less beautiful, less likeable, less intelligent, less able than someone else.  We let metaphorical fingers get slammed by metaphorical door – the bad grade on an exam, the broken heart by someone we love.  And, instead of rising – instead of finding love for the person that teaches us a lesson of survival, of not winning every time, or of being free to realize what you can be and who you might love – we curl up on the couch, and we watch Netflix, and wait until tomorrow and we think: maybe tomorrow the pain in my finger will be all gone and we can start again.

But there is no “starting again”.  And that pain is permanent – but it is the fertilizer of our becoming.  That scar is the proof of being able to get up.  The memory of the ER is the evidence of you rising and later knowing how to rise again.  The bandage on your broken heart is the story of a heart that knows how to beat, and that doesn’t simply sit in your chest dormant, hoping for a prince or princess to come through, innocent yet deep, young yet wise, and overall non-existent.  That permanent pain is muscles forming muscle memory of how to climb a mountain or maintain a forearm stand.  The callous on your fingertip is how to play the violin or a guitar or sing with a beautiful, colourful, ringing tone through whole forests.

That little girl in me who got her finger slammed in the car door in hurricane-force winds, who went to the doctor and had the fingernail drained of blood, and who scored two goals during an otherwise boys-only scrimmage, is me.  She’s a cool kid, she’s a fighter.  That cool fighter didn’t know there was a difference between her and little boys.  She knew that at the end of hockey practice – goals or no goals – there would be Lime Crush, so hurt finger be damned! Simply put, with her unassuming strength as a little kid, she just decided to get up.

So today, I decided to do some blogging, with the third finger on my right hand throbbing.  If a little girl can get up again, so can I, reminded of how strongly we are intuitively formed when we enter into this world. Despite the heartbreaks, the bullying, the bad grades, we’re still alive here after all.  There will be more fingers slammed in doors yet.  Take this as a reminder that you can still score goals even when that happens.

I hate to brag, but what a strong chick former-me was.

“The place we occupy as human beings in the universe”

These are just my random thoughts as we get closer to tomorrow, Earth Day, a day to celebrate “the place we occupy as human beings in the universe”.  The Dalai Lama said that about Earth.  This is why we must take care of it.  It’s almost spiritual, that way, because without this Earth, this human family of ours has no place to go.

That seems simple that way, doesn’t it?  That we should grow vegetables organically, and compost, and stop having such excess if it means the good of the masses, the good of each other, the good of the place we occupy as human beings in the universe.

It seems natural that maybe we should be natural.  Stop driving so many cars, stop digging so deep in the sea for oil, stop buying so many new, fancy gadgets, that get shipped in big carbon emitting jumbo jets, delivered to our doors, packed in new, fancy gadget wrapping.

I read about a girl in New York, Lauren Singer, who didn’t make more trash than that which fits inside a mason jar for two whole years!  The place we occupy as human beings in the universe thanks you, Lauren.

I was inspired by this girl.  I wanted to start making my own deodorant, stop buying into chemicals and excessive plastic packaging.  So I suggested at my work that for Earth Day we host a “DIY Products” lunch.  I made deodorant.  I admittedly got some weird looks, but two people tried it.

I’m inspired by just looking outside, too – seeing skies and feeling air and more than that, receiving pictures of my little niece and nephew and seeing what they are doing outside.  Skating on a rink in my backyard, climbing on a glacial rock somehow found 200 metres away from my house.  And I always think wow, thank you, Earth!  Because look at these two rugrats.  They love you.  They just love this place we occupy as human beings in the universe.

And so, I think that’s what Earth Day is really all about – we need to save the Earth because we literally need it.  Without it, that’s it for us.  This is our place in the universe.  This is our place to protect and make beautiful.  This is our place to play on glacial rocks that we pretend are whales or spaceships.

But then, today, I also read about a boat full of migrants that sank outside of Malta.  And really, they weren’t migrants at all, they were refugees – scared to death in their own homes so they gave all their money to human traffickers and hoped for the best for when they arrived somewhere.  And now their new home is some sort of afterlife that in times like this you must hope and pray exists, because otherwise…well, otherwise it’s too sad.

But, if they had made it, people would have said “not in my backyard, not when my pocketbook will be affected”.  And they don’t see the poor, unfortunate souls before them as people but as refugees.  But they are people.  And this is their Earth, too.

It’s too sad for humans to not even be able to find a home on the place we occupy as human beings in the universe.  It’s too sad to think it might be too dangerous for people to live somewhere.  The difference in that person who drowned trying to escape death and you is simply this: chance.

The chance wasn’t even that good we’d be born here instead of somewhere more war-torn.  The odds just fell to our favour.  So, now that we have it, then what?  I have to ask myself “then what, Emily, then what?”  Because I can’t believe that I simply get to be born lucky, without worrying about the place we occupy as human beings in the universe without thinking of the less lucky.

I know that Earth Day is about the Earth –  its health, its viability – but that only matters for humans when we consider earth as home.  And so I can’t help but think, we should really try to think simultaneously about taking care of the earth and also taking care of its inhabitants.  But really, it’s not even “taking care” of each other, but it’s loving each other.  All these people that live here on this little blue dot are our human family.  How can some be more important than others?  That’s like loving one sibling or child better than another.  How can economics or a national budget be more important?  That’s like loving a character on a tv show better than your brother, because just like the tv show has made up its characters, the budget and money and eonomics are just a theory of organization that we made up and not at all like your brother who is real and solid and has a soul and is capable of love.

So I suppose I was thinking that on Earth Day it’s no good just to love the place where human beings live unless we decide we will also love other human beings.  And I was thinking we should love any refugees who arrive even if they hurt our economy at first, because later they might grow a garden or save a life themselves or probably at the very least have a job and be self-sufficient, alive and happy, and that would make it worth it.  I was thinking we should make the Earth long-lasting with all of our human family in mind, because that interdependence and compassion will probably make the place we occupy as human beings in the universe brighter and happier and healthier than ever.  It’s like that saying “many hands make light work”.  The work can be living in a beautiful world, on a beautiful blue planet in the sky that one day my niece and nephew can share with their nieces and their nephews.

The Dalai Lama also said this: Destruction of natural resources results from ignorance, from a lack of respect to the living things of Earth, and from greed. 

Love the Earth, love each other.  One is no good without the other.  Happy Earth day, Earthlings.

The dishonesty of makeup and how I learned this for myself.

When I imagine myself and the way I appear to people, I envision myself beautiful, with prominent cheekbones and slender cheeks, slightly concave but not sickly.  I visualize eyebrows several shades darker than my hair, eye lashes black, eyes big, wide.  I see lips that are glossy and red, enveloped by skin quite fair.  It’s a beautiful painted picture.

I love makeup.  Perhaps it was the effects of growing up on a stage, or having older sisters, or just living in this world of Madonna’s.  Whatever it is, I love makeup.  I love eyeliner and mascara and smoky eyes and outrageous lipsticks.  I love my work appropriate makeup and my out-with-the-girls makeup.  I love it all.

I never felt oppressed or mad that I loved makeup.  I have read the words and heard the opinions of those people who see makeup as a lie.  And perhaps it is – a lie fabricated and presented perfectly by the beauty industry without even the veiled attempt at hiding what they were doing, evidenced by the settling upon of “makeup” as the appropriate name for this accessory.  Though, to call it simply an “accessory” is, of course, insane, since we all know that makeup is imperative.  Imperative to invest money in, to invest time in.  So imperative that without our faces done, we are seen as less competent, less likeable and less trustworthy than our made-up colleagues.

But still I bought makeup, relished a trip to Sephora, asked for expensive pallets as Christmas gifts.  I did not feel mad that I loved makeup.

Until now.

On Saturday I spent the day at the office.  I first went to a yoga class at 830 and hurriedly got ready for a more-or-less private day at my desk.  But I hadn’t had enough sleep, and I had run out of eye cream, and when I got to the office I looked haggard.  I tried to shrug this feeling of unprettiness off, reminding myself this isn’t why I’m in the office today, reminding myself of the jobs I was there to do.  I went to the kitchen for coffee and saw an Avon magazine on the table.  I flipped through it and landed on a page advertising the “Ideal Flawless CC Colour Corrector Pencil“.  Makeup

I looked at this correction-enabling tool and wondered if it would, indeed, correct me.  Make me better, prettier, probably happier.  And then I became mad.  Mad at the idea of being “corrected”.  Not enhanced, not elongated, not brightened up, but corrected.  Fixed.  All of the errors that I was born with could be disguised until they look the way they should look.

I was mad because there I was on that particular day: working hard at my career, practicing yoga and meditation, by all accounts being productive.  I was going to meet my boyfriend later for pints.  The day was sunny – cold, but beautifully wintry and sunny.  Nothing was wrong.  Except for the errors in my face so desperately needing correction.  I felt mad because they were successful in getting my attention, that despite the dearth of wrongness in my life, I did, in fact, believe: why yes, I could do to have that pencil.

This drove home the other lies – the lies that my eyebrows must be two shades darker than my hair; and that without makeup, I am less competent, less trustworthy, less likeable.  I looked at the page and I felt so mad, and I also felt so sad because if it hadn’t been for the name of that cosmetic, I probably would never have had this reaction.

As I said, I never felt hurt or mad because of my affinity for makeup before now.  I have viewed makeup as art: extravagant, radical, self-expressing.  I overlooked the part of makeup that isn’t for spectacle, the part that is simply fixing and correcting.  But all these corrections are things that are just me, my lines, my spots, my face.  To hide them away is to hide pieces of myself away.  What a dark, ugly thought.

And so what is the measure of how beautiful we must be?  Or rather, of how flawless, how corrected?  How many filters and edits can fix a photo?  How many beauty products do I need to be beautiful, not because of how I look but because of how I have managed to correct myself?  What are the errors in my face that I can buy a pencil to modify and perfect, until I’m not the girl I wake up as, but rather the real-time advertisement for a cosmetics company?

em

None of this seems beautiful at all.

A Don-Cherry inspired, brief explanation of “otherness”

Since Don Cherry made a bad joke, people were offended by said joke, and I wrote about racist and discriminatory language, I have seen a lot of comments about “people” who want to limit free speech, overreact, throw a pity party, overlook actual tragic, atrocious events happening in other parts of the world.  Effectively, the comments intended to enunciate just how generally absurd the offence taken was.

I wondered about these criticisms.  Perhaps I was making a Don Cherry Mountain out of a Don Cherry Molehill.

Then I wondered some of my own criticisms.  Perhaps the naysayers – to steal chef Todd Perin’s terminology – are not swayed by or aren’t familiar with a conversation about otherness.

“Otherness” is a sociological theory about how people order themselves into groups.  At its simplest, in order for there to be an “us” there must necessarily be a “them”.  The “them” are the “others”, and they excluded from “our” group.  An easy illustration is found in professions: for all of the engineers, there are people who are not engineers.  If everyone were engineers, the group of engineers could not exist.

Consider the word “other”.  When do you use “other”?  At a meal: “I loved it all, other than the carrots”.  At a party: “My girlfriends were there, and some other people I didn’t talk to”.  These examples don’t highlight negativity, per se, but they exemplify valuation: the things other than carrots were good, the people other than your girlfriends weren’t really worth talking to.  The carrots and the people you didn’t talk to are the “others”.

Included in the theory of “otherness”, is the notion of “normalness”.  Where societies have divided themselves into groups, the above principles of “us” and “them” present themselves as majority and minority groups form.  This is enhanced where certain groups in the society exert and hold more political power than other groups.  As members of a society interact with one another, identities continue to be defined, transformed, modified.  As traits develop and we identify as being in certain groups (i.e. being “male”, being “white”, being “Christian”), it effectively becomes necessary that certain people will be excluded from these groups (lest these groups not exist at all).  The excluded are the “them”, the “outsiders”, the “others”.

As we know from a simple view of history, the “others” have often had a hard go of it, typically perceived as the less powerful and less deserving members in a society.  Zygmunt Bauman is a sociologist who wrote that abnormality is the other of the norm, women the others of men, strangers the others of natives, enemies the others of friends, and “them” the other of “us”.  As we look through our own society we can identify many grounds upon which “otherness” and “normality” may be premised: gender, race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, economic status, the list goes on.

From the vantage point of human rights, the various grounds upon which these dichotomies of organization, as Bauman would refer them, occupy many of the current grounds of protection under Canada’s human rights legislation. Another interesting point about Canada’s human rights legislation is that it actually does not matter what the intention of the commentator or perpetrator is when it comes to racist or discriminatory acts or language – what matters is the effect that the act or language has on a person.

Whether Cherry or Cherry proponents like it or not, the particular language used is likely to appear racist or discriminatory for various reasons.  Firstly, the language describing the “others” – those that hunt and eat seal meat – is infused with historical racial meaning.  “Barbaric” and “savage” were terms used to describe the same groups of people who are now the “others” in Cherry’s joke, and who were historically systemically and categorically viewed as the “other” based on their barbaric-ness and savageness.  Secondly, for Cherry to so clearly be included in the group of the “normal” – being white, male, well-to-do, and stationed in mainland Canada – and then be the originator of such off-the-cuff comments, could possibly convey the feeling of insult-to-injury.  Finally, to flippantly utter comments about being “barbaric” or “savage” with respect to the seal hunt, despite the history of using those words in that context, indicates an apathy or an ignorance that may, again, feel offensive.

Am I suggesting Don Cherry is racist or discriminatory against Newfoundlanders and against Canada’s aboriginal populations involved in the seal hunt?  No.  I am not.  I am unequivocally not saying that.  Personally, I wasn’t offended by his comments.  Personally, I rolled my eyes at a mouthpiece doing mouthpiece stuff.  However, I do believe that the failure to empathize with or at least grouchily concede understanding seems strange considering the position that those, experiencing a life of being “other”, would understandably take.  Irrespective of intent, to suggest that the comment did not perpetrate the existence of the “other”, both historically and presently, with racially infused language is what is absurd.

*************************

For an excellent resource about Otherness, please see blogger OtherSociologist.coman integral resource in the representation of Otherness found above.  If you view this post, Dr Zuleyka Zevallos, thank you for your resource!

That Time I Tried To Impress Chief Justice McLachlin (Key Word: “Tried”)

I come today with a heart, mind, and soul that is heavy with embarrassment.  What I have to tell you today was…well frankly, it was never supposed to be this way.  Things were originally so much different in my mind when I approached this day in my life.  Here goes.

In June of 2014, right around the time I took to such regular self-mutilation it stopped appearing accidental and started resembling more and more a cry for help, I was asked to sing the national anthem at the opening plenary for the Canadian Bar Association’s Canadian Legal Conference.  I was filled with much trepidation.  Singing is a part of my life I take with no grains of salt.  I have such great respect for the discipline that I didn’t pursue it as a career as I believed I didn’t have what it took, a strange cross between fear of striking out and sacred holding of the value and importance of song.  It’s a little dramatic but hey, you knew what you were getting into when you started reading this blog today.

One of the main reasons I was worried about performing was because of the people I had this strong inclination might be in attendance – people from my firm, law friends who had never heard me perform before, members of the judiciary – aka the “celebrities” of the legal world.  There just might be judges from benches all across Canada, there might be Supreme Court of Canada judges, there might even be Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin.  The notion of singing in front of Bev was the most nervewracking notion since the last time I thought I was experiencing the most-nervewracking-thing-possible (probably having to appear befor my first Supreme Court Judge on an uncontested application and say nine whole words).

Bev, in a charming suit and very pleased to be surrounded by many leather bound books and in a fancy room probably smelling of rich mahogany.

Bev, in a charming suit and very pleased to be surrounded by many leather bound books and in a fancy room probably smelling of rich mahogany.

Anyway, hyperbole aside (sortof), it did indeed turn out Bev was going to be there.  My anxiety.  My LORD the anxiety.  I constructed a whole, tightly wound world of stress and preparation involving much cardio, much practicing to the chagrin of my downstairs neighbours, and I stopped eating sugar and drinking wine (sortof).  I had the perfect sweet-yet-adult dress.  I learned all four verses of the Ode to Newfoundland.  I planned out my humble yet confident response to when Bev would say to me, “Congratulations on a nice performance”: thank you, Chief Justice (while smiling). My moment was here where my two worlds would come together!

On the morning of the conference, I woke up bright and early with lots of time to eat my smoothie, wake up my neighbours with some vocalises, and practice my response to Bev a few more times.  (I, of course, also had a longer version of my gracious thanks for an alternative scenario in which she wasn’t too busy to ask me about my background in music and where I went to law school.)

Bright and early!  Sorry downstairs neighbours

Bright and early! Sorry downstairs neighbours

Perfect dress from the Gap, beige flats for max posture from Ann Taylor (again), awkward posing (all natural)

Perfect dress from the Gap, beige flats for max posture from Ann Taylor (again), awkward posing from yours truly.

So off I went.  In true soprano “it’s-vital-that-I-rehearse-in-this-space” behaviour, after my sound check I took it upon myself to wander about the Convention Centre and found a “secluded” spot to do an abundance more vocalises.  As I emerged from my secret soprano-proof hideaway, a myriad of conference organizers emerged from some room and applauded my efforts.  I practiced my humility.  Oh, that is so sweet!  Thank you so much!  Slash OH YEAH, I am totally ready for my moment in the sun.

After some introductory remarks (I have no idea what they were about…introductions and shit) and some further introductory remarks, they called my name.  Off I went, RIGHT IN FRONT OF C.J. BEV.

I stepped up to the microphone; took a nice, balanced, open breath to the depths of my stomach; reminded myself where my hard palate was and to make sure to add depth and core to my sound; and thought my favourite cue one last time – sing like you’re an opera singer (‘cuz you know how) – and we were off to the races.

For a bunch of really hungover lawyers, people were generally pleased.  Afterwards, people were quite keen to chat with me – what made me go to law school, am I actually crazy, generally a job well done.  One guy from Vancouver really gassed me up by telling me he “just really likes multidisciplinary people” and if I ever wanted to work out west, he would set me up (like what kind of big dog are you?  you just hand out careers at the CBA Conference?  #HarveySpectre).

I was milling about the main, open forum area looking at posters and chatting with people when my moment came: there she was, like a stoic celebrity!  She was with these two gentlemen and she was coming right towards me.  I didn’t even have time to fix my hair when the first one said, “a job really well done”, and the second said “yes, you do have quite a gift” (or they said something like that, I don’t really remember because I was a bit busy focussing on CJB to really hear them).  I muttered my well-practiced gracious thanks and then….

She walked right past me.

She didn’t even look at me.

I actually turned square on my heel, looked behind me, and there she was – gone.

I…I…I started to laugh so hard I had to clamp my hand over my mouth and try to hold my breath to stop myself laughing out loud (I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard me laugh, but it is a borderline manical witch laugh that is so loud it’s almost like my laugh organ thinks nothing will ever be funny again, so better get all my laughing done RIGHT NOW – so it was a bit of an issue).

After all that time and effort and lost sleep and worry and endless gushing about this event, the one member of my audience that I had been trying to impress either didn’t like what she heard or straight up DID NOT LISTEN.  It’s either hurtful or rude, goddammit!  All that time spent working on my graciousness: wasted.  All my effort preparing multiple and alternative gracious small-talk: in vain.  All my energy spent practicing/steadily dooming any future relationship with my downstairs roommates: …

Aw fuck it.  Maybe Bev just doesn’t know a good thing when she hears it – because music should just be celebrated.  Celebrated by singing along with the Ode and the Anthem, celebrated by giving a little nod and smile to the performer, celebrated by smiling in a general direction.

…And anyways, maybe Bev had a really bad experience as a kid and couldn’t sing and was asked to only mouth along to the words in choir and…

I mean.  An die musik.  That’s what it’s about.

Skinny Privilege and Why I Just Literally Can’t Even Right Now

As I drove home from the gym today the song “All About That Bass” came on.  I have unabashedly loved this song from the first moment I heard its walking bass line.  Meghan Trainor’s voice is super satisfying – it’s got so much colour, depth, and core.  I want to applaud her voice teacher, wherever he or she may be, for teaching Trainor some good techinque.  And obviously I like any song that’s about booty because booty is trending right now and I’m a pretty trendy girl (and just FYI: pistachios.  Pistachios are the nut right now).

meghan-trainor

Trendy like Trainor! Just look at her!

You know, the first time I heard this song was this remarkably happy moment in my life.  I mean, it’s just so catchy!  Who even cares what it’s about!  I just want it to circulate through my Facebook and on the radio and at every party because we just aren’t listening to enough jazzy soulful chicks.

But then, like the entrance of the Queen of the Night in the Magic Flute, a bunch of people had to write articles talking about how it’s actually not an empowering song and ruin this thing that was so plainly good.  This, THIS my friends is why we can’t have nothing nice.

In an article entitled “All About That Bass Might Actually Be Bad for Female Body Image”, we learn it’s actually about body-shaming and, based on one girl’s experience after having taken a course on eating disorders last semester and being skinny in high school, it’s highly offensive.  Not only are the lyrics “it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two, but I can shake it shake it, like I’m supposed to do” offensive, but so are the lyrics “I’m bringing booty back, go on and tell them skinny bitches that“.

The first quoted lyric is offensive to some because it can suggest that if you can’t shake it shake it then you’re not womanly and attractive.  The second quoted part is offensive because she calls some skinny girls “skinny bitches”.  Despite the fact that in current popular culture nobody is calling anybody a “bitch” anymore to relay an insult (we can thank the fall season and the advent of the popular, though potentially lost-on-most-users, hashtag #BasicBitch, for that one), the author says “that’s not nice”.

Oh.  It’s “not nice”?  That’s what you have to say about that.  Ok.  Well, I mean…I just…I hate to say, “I can’t even”, but…

meme

By that I mean to say: your argument is weak and irrespective of popculture right now and it’s not doing a very good job of convincing me that Meghan Trainor is a bad bitch.  Aw shit, that means she’s awesome!  I’m sorry, I just can’t insult her.

Girls are creatures of many emotions.  Me personally, I’m running on approximately 48 discrete emotions per day.  On Friday night past, after an evening out, I actually confined my post-drinking friends to a snuggle position, stopping a friend from answering nature’s call because I was all of “so happy” and “love this moment so much I’m scared it will end if you get up and then it will be gone and I will miss it”.  Four.  In a sentence.  Stopping a person getting up and being normal because I was having four emotions: three present and one future.

Thus, with that in mind, I don’t judge a person who may hear that song and have some emotion that it isn’t positive.  My condolences, sister, because this song is LEGIT THE ILLEST.

When I saw that article posted on my Facebook the first 50 times I couldn’t read it.  In fact, just looking at the title was infuriating.  It was clear what the article was going to be about – skinny privilege.

Skinny privilege is the sister of white privilege, upper-middle-class privilege, male privilege.  It makes life easier, it makes dressing, and looking nice and pulled together easier.  Society has always conditioned women to be small (and, in fact, as small as possible) and it comes fully equipped with lots of envy and lots of privilege.

Nobody is hating on you because you’re skinny.  We are all trying to be you.  As a slender person myself, I look at every slender-er person around me with such envy.  I can’t help it!  I like to think I’m a confident lady, but it’s a thing.  Skinny is what we want.  It’s enviable.  It’s a privileged state.  Meghan Trainor’s song isn’t about skinny girls.  It’s not for skinny girls.  It’s not hating on skinny girls.  After living a lifetime until suddenly now (with Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, and others hustling for the big bootied), sit down.  The main thing?  This has nothing to do with you, skinny minnies!

Although the above-referenced article is old, this annoying parody by some gorgeous skinny bitch is not.  I have to admit, I only got as far as her annoyingly perfect smile and modified chorus about how any dude that wants to change her can move along when again I put my hand to my forehead and thought to myself…

download

As a final note, if you love this song the way I love this song, get a load of this.  This girl is clearly the only chick who was capable of getting more love from me than Trainor.  Look at her rock that upright bass.  What a babe!

Extra, extra!: Manning, Misogyny and #nlpoli

When I was in music school there was something wrong with me.  I didn’t believe in feminism.  I held, as some still hold, that the discussion contributed to the problem of inequality and that it further and aggravated segregation between genders.  When I went to law school I like to think I grew the hell up and have realized the error of my ways.  This is very good news, at least for myself.  A friend told me over drinks after I had had my moment of clarity (of realizing I was a bit (okay a lot) closed-minded, misguided and misunderstood on the subject) that she had always thought I was a reasonably intelligent person except for that one thing that just made me look like an idiot.  Valid point.

Now I not only believe strongly in feminism (though I do like to say equalism), but have actively spent time endeavouring to learn about it, how it affects people in varying societies, and at varying income levels.  Some of my favourite parts of the discussion for my socio-economic demographic are about women in politics.  Questions abound in this area: why aren’t there more candidates?  Of the candidates that do exist, why aren’t more of them successful?  Why do women get treated so radically different during their campaigns, their tenures, their retirements?

A great way to highlight the kind of scenario I’m talking about is through a question regarding US politics.  Why do people refer to President Obama and Senator Clinton in the same sentence, using the pronouns “Obama” and “Hilary”?  Undoubtedly, the knee-jerk answer is that there has been a former Clinton in US politics who was a male, so using her first name lends clarity to the conversation.  But is anybody under a mistaken impression that Billy C. is somehow involved in a conversation about the President of the United Sates and current US politics?  If it’s appropriate to go on a first-name basis, arguably we ought to refer to “Barack and Hilary”, no?

Barack and Clinton

Barack and Clinton

This week, in a fascinating turn of affairs, new Newfoundland and Labrador premier Paul Davis announced a somewhat mind-boggling reorganization of the government, including killing the Department of Justice and in place announcing the creation of the Department of Public Safety, and appointing non-politician, but actual lawyer, Judy Manning as Minister of said new department as well as as Attorney General of the Province and as the minister responsible for the status of women.  When this happened, we ranted and roared like true Newfoundlanders, and for all the parts of the conversation that were legitimate there were at least three questions or comments posed by the media that were somewhat enraging.

For The Media: How to Discuss Women in Politics

Name It. Change It. is a nonpartisan, joint project of the Women’s Media Center and She Should Run.  The organization strives to identify, prevent and end sexist media coverage in politics.    In 2012 they published the Media Guide to Gender Neutral Coverage of Women Candidates + Politicians.  Among other things, the Guide set out the Rule of Reversibility:

The most workable definition of equality for journalists is reversibility.  Don’t mention her young children unless you would also mention his, or debate her clothes unless you would describe his, or say she’s shrill or attractive unless the same adjectives would be applied to a man.  Don’t say she’s just out of graduate school but he’s a rising star.  Don’t say she has no professional training but he has worked his way up.

Sexism can also refer to the type of coverage, often about personality, appearance, or family, that is given to women politicians  but not male politicians.

Chart of Reversibility (Name It. Change It.)

Chart of Reversibility (Name It. Change It.)

In the case of Manning, the media has, of course, played a very active role in her appointment.  Arguably, the most important article that has or will be published about Manning was that of the CBC: “Judy Manning ‘surprised’ by questions about PC Party connections“, which was posted the day following the Premier’s announcement.

The article certainly doesn’t embark in direct sexist writing – and in fact, violations of the Chart of Reversibility are  rare!  But as Name It. Change It. tells us, it is not simply the exact language used but sometime the context and the topics.  The language used is, generally, aggressive and has the look of a cat with its back arched.

Adorable but arched and ready to hiss.

Adorable but arched and ready to hiss.

As the facts are relevant to this article, it is important for readers to understand that Manning’s long-term partner is Leo Power, an active supporter and volunteer for the PC Party.  Her uncle is Fabian Manning, former Newfoundland and Labrador MHA and current Senator in the Senate of Canada.

BristledWhen People are Imputed With Emotions They Didn’t Portray

The CBC wrote:

During an interview with CBC News, Judy Manning, the new minister of public safety and attorney-general, bristled when asked if her unconventional and surprising appointment was influenced by the fact she is the partner of longtime PC supporter Leo Power.

You know, I would hate to present a fact without knowing it to be true.  With that in mind, I watched O’Neill’s interview with Manning.  This first statement is interesting for me in light of the word “bristled”.  The Merriam-Webster online dictionary tells me that “bristle” means “to show signs of anger” or “to become angry”.

As I watched the interview, I simply did not see Manning become angry.  I saw a woman respond strongly and clearly to a question about whether or not she got appointed to AG of Newfoundland because she’s banging someone.  I thought she did a fine job, quite frankly.  I’ve seen anger, guys, because once when I was 17 I went drinking, and mother and father Stockley showed me what anger looks like.  It just doesn’t look like a smiling Manning saying “no”.

So, why then was the word “bristled” used?  Did the CBC hope I would assume she was bristled or angry?  And, if I did assume she was actually angry, what would that mean?  I associate being quick-to-anger as a negative, childish emotion.  In other words, her being bristled would lead me to forming a negative association with Manning.

VintageWhen Words are Embedded With Meaning They Didn’t Have

During the interview, Manning discusses the difference in pay she will receive as being evidence of her commitment to her new role.  Manning says it isn’t about the money, it’s about her desire to be of public service.  In her discussion of this, Manning uses the word “vintage” and “level” to describe well…her vintage or level…as a lawyer.  Having been called to the bar in 2005, she, and other lawyers of her vintage or level, would stand to make approximately $50,000 more than what she will earn as a public servant.  Commentary about issues of her remuneration aside, the CBC did a tricky thing with her quotes, when the article read:

Manning emphasized that she is also taking a “significant” pay cut by agreeing to take on the job, pointing out that she will receive a ministerial salary of just over $54,000. 

She said that is less than half of what a lawyer of “my vintage” could earn.

Now, certainly, this is what Manning said, but she also said a lawyer of “my level”.

It’s funny about that word, vintage.  When we think “vintage”, we think fine, aged wines and fancy, enviable clothing.  Ultimately, the word “vintage”, in general parlance, can come fully equipped with a host of automatic associations, including arrogance as it tends to mean things are better or more valuable.  By isolating that word in quotations, the CBC isolates the associations we are encouraged to make.  Because we have now made Manning arrogant, we have given her a negative quality.

Interestingly, I have this inclination Harvey Spector’s vintage brings in many of his clients.  So why are you trying to direct me to perceive it as a negative quality for Manning?

"Harvey Specter likes to win. So while he might be ruthless, manipulative, aggressive and staggeringly arrogant, he’s also the type of person you’d want to sit next to, rather than opposite, in a negotiation."  (See more at: http://www.bigpartnership.co.uk/blog/344-harvey-specter-reputation-protector-communication-tips-from-tv-s-most-arrogant-lawyer#sthash.pu7n0a3z.dpuf) Interesting...Harvey gets to be arrogant and it leads to a mancrush.

“If you’re detecting a hint of a man-crush here, you might be right  And in truth, he’s not always a very nice person.  But nice guys finish last and Harvey Specter likes to win. So while he might be ruthless, manipulative, aggressive and staggeringly arrogant, he’s also the type of person you’d want to sit next to, rather than opposite, in a negotiation.” (See more at: http://www.bigpartnership.co.uk/blog/344-harvey-specter-reputation-protector-communication-tips-from-tv-s-most-arrogant-lawyer#sthash.pu7n0a3z.dpuf).
How interesting…Harvey gets to be arrogant and it leads to a man-crush.

As a final note on this point, the word “vintage” also forms a part of another quote in which arrogance is less apt to be imputed to Manning.  With that in mind, is it even more possible that the word is not one of arrogance with Manning but rather just some word she uses without thinking?  It’s difficult to see how Manning’s verbal habits are sufficient cause for me to view her negatively.

Connections: When Interviewers Ask Inappropriate Questions Posed as Fair

The actual best part of this article is its select discussion of the line of questioning regarding whether Manning owes her appointment to her “connections” (do note that the pluralization is found in the article).  The CBC writes:

During an interview with CBC News, Judy Manning, the new minister of public safety and attorney-general, bristled when asked if her unconventional and surprising appointment was influenced by the fact she is the partner of longtime PC supporter Leo Power.

“I’m a little surprised that has come up. Quite frankly, in terms of my predecessors, I don’t recall the media ever approaching any of our previous cabinet ministers or our previous premiers about with whom they were sleeping,” she stated in reply to a question from CBC reporter Chris O’Neill-Yates.

In the article, the subject matter next veers to a discussion of the Premier Davis defending his decision to appoint Manning.  In real life, what actually happened was different.  In real life, this was not the flow of the conversation nor the end of Manning and O’Neill-Yates’ conversation on the point.  In real life, Manning proceeded to convey that she believes the question – clearly not about her uncle but only about her partner – indicates there is work to be done in her role as minister responsible for the status of women.  If it can be believed – and I myself almost could not believe it – O’Neill-Yates replies: in what sense?

In full, O’Neill Yates’ question is: “What part of the question is unfair, if your long-term partner was part of getting Mr. Davis to where he is today as premier, in asking whether his relationship with you had any role in getting you the position that you occupy today?”

I hate to jump in where Manning should have when asked such a surprisingly misogynistic question by a fellow female, but here is why it’s unfair: because you would not ask a man if he slept his way to the top, and that is the actual substance of your question.  Your failure to see how that is an inappropriate and unfair question is enough to turn my stomach and make me stop reading all but BuzzFeed.com forever more.  I’m so scared I will stumble upon more of this anti-women line of questioning that I almost want to boycott the CBC for fear I will have to feel offended like this again – and there is nothing I hate more than feeling offended by an entity on a Sunday.

A Few Lies, a Few Manipulations

Interestingly, though the article comments on Manning being the niece of Senator Manning, O’Neill-Yates asked, at least in the video provided by the CBC, only about Power.  Interesting, that.  Curious, that.  Are you, the CBC, tampering with the actual content of the article and the responses you got in order to help formulate and direct the shape of my opinions?  Wait, didn’t you also do that with the strategic inclusion of the word “vintage”?

I have yet to decide how I feel about Judy Manning in a meaningful sense as to her being in the roles which she now occupies.  However, the obvious attempts of articles, like the one discussed above, to encourage me to develop a negative opinion about her before seeing her in action does tend to do the opposite for me.  In watching her interview, and the various others that have happened since, Manning is confident, collected, steady.  She’s a strong, obviously well-educated woman who isn’t scared to call out misogynist questions.  Maybe it’s my love of hood culture or my own immaturity, but the attack on her person makes me just want to tweet “U Jealous? #YUMad #NLPoli”.  Because, frankly, the trite direction this conversation has taken is no more mature, responsible or enlightening than such a tweet would be.

*******************

If you have an interest in this subject, you can find more helpful resources and discourse at NameItChangeIt.org, where a rich discussion of how we can help women who are acting in, striving for and excelling in politics can be found.  Click here.