However.

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I’ve started to ease off of correcting grammar. It’s a waste of my time and theirs. I’m also falliable and prone to the occasional error. It’s entirely constructed by people who assume authority over the rest of us, and evolving as those dynamics change. Vernacular is just as acceptable in most informal methods of communication as English following guidelines. You can’t always fit it into 140 characters. Context is the most important part of language; applying grammatical rules blanketly is ignoring context.

See the semi-colon I used there to weave together two separate sentences? Yeah, I’m going to talk about that for a bit.

I will judge people based on their use of language, within context. Tweets have entirely different needs and purposes from essays or formally published articles, and even the published work of paid writers can bend the rules depending on the character of the channel used. People voicing opinions of the marginalized, silenced, and oppressed shouldn’t have non-conventional phrases or structures removed or changed if they’re part of the context.

But when the published material is of the status quo, I goddamn expect the established rules of grammar to be followed.

The example that rubbed me the wrong way before I even got to the meat of this article, in a magazine targeted towards a specific profession, is the ever prevalent comma-however faux pas. It’s prevalent in correspondence and self-published material and that makes me cringe – but seeing this in what is supposed to be a proper publication turns that cringe into a blood-boil. Even Microsoft Word spotted the error, as the article was copied and pasted into a collection of current commentary distributed to my department. It should not have passed the editing process, and if anyone was paid to review this I want to see their head on a pike.

Nearly all Canadian business executives are optimistic about their companies’ growth prospects in the first six months of 2014, however, they are less certain about their ability to recruit experienced talent for open jobs, according to a Robert Half survey.

Can you spot the source of my anger there? Punctuation serves a valuable purpose in understanding the intended tone of the string of words thrown together. This rule was drilled into my head in high school English classes. It was further reinforced with heavy emphasis in academic writing courses in university. I got into arguments with trolls on the internet over this and proved myself right. When you combine two sentences using however, you do so with a semi-colon before said word. This sentence should’ve been “Yadda yadda yadda in the first since months of 2014; however, they are less certain about asefnaweriulw3a ;seula934.” (I somewhat sincerely believe my gibberish substitutions there should also be applied, but that’s for separate reasons.)

Comma splices annoy me for many reasons. I will forgive them in casual circumstances as described above. I will not forgive them in business journalism.

I didn’t read the rest of the article.

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Crumpled Up and Over the Shoulder

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It’s no fun that things you type into a computer and afterwards deem to be garbage and delete are gone forever. There might be something brilliant in there that can plant a seed in someone else’s mind even if your own writing is shite, but nope -Ctrl+Alpha, delete, and exit or do whatever else makes Ctrl+Omega impossible. This isn’t quite a digital version of crumpling up a piece of paper and throwing it behind you as you remain crouched at your desk.

There might be some embarassing or incriminating things you actually do need permanently deleted, but the paper-based counterpart to that is throwing shit into a fire. Even with the ideas lost, that’s still way more fun than a backspace key.

There is much I have deleted myself. There is much paper I’ve ripped up and thrown away too, which is not quite as effective as burning, but no one is interested enough to go through my garbage except in search for aluminum cans. (Pardon me – I wrote “shite” before, so perhaps I should maintain consistency and write “aluminium” out of respect for the Motherland.) (On the other hand, I wrote “shit” in the second paragraph, so perhaps I should strand myself on a mid-Atlantic island.)

There is a lot that I have written, intended to be published here, but then deleted. Poof. (Poof as in disappearing act, not as in derogatory gay term – we don’t use those on my mid-Atlantic island.) Some of it had no direction; some of it was repeating myself from opinions I’ve already driven into the ground with little addition. But if I were a notable writer in pre-digital history – well, for one thing I’d probably be a man – repeating myself on paper that got crumpled up but was still saved would clarify to future historians what my work actually meant. And yet it would still get misinterpreted and used as propaganda to advance to the aims of Fox News. Everything’s come down to fucking Fox News.

There will be traces in the dark corners of the internet of virtually everything ever published on a website, but think of all that doesn’t even make it that far. Think of what’s never even written down, because we assume we’ll just get on the computer after we get off the can, but then disappears into thin air. Romanticize the past and take a pen and pad of paper everywhere you go. Including the toilet. Especially the toilet. And write it down before you’re done shitting, because your poop might be exactly where the idea came from.

Chipping the White Ice

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Of all the options I had to watch the Olympic gold medal men’s hockey game at 6:00 this morning, I opted to treat it like a regular Sunday and sleep in instead. I also asked someone who did get up early to text me updates, which turned out to be a very contradictory idea to my decision. I should’ve gone an alternate route – go to the casino bar and grill down the street where commentators were set up to broadcast during intermissions; sleeping over at my parents’ house so I could cuddle with dogs all night before early rising; even just getting up myself and watching it online.

But I’m not as hardcore a hockey fan as so many others in this country, so I stayed in bed. I know who scored the three goals against Sweden as updates were sent to me, but I didn’t get to see the goaltending by who it sounds like should be the MVP of the game if not the entire tournament – Carey Price.

Carey Price is not only an iconic Canadian in his hockey skills; he is also a First Nations Canadian. Hockey is generally portrayed implicitly as a white man’s sport. (It sounds like the women’s hockey gold medal match was far more interesting than the men’s, but more people will pay attention to male sports especially when the by far dominant professional league is entirely men.) What I read in my Twitter feed this morning from First Nations people I follow and all the retweets they made from ones I don’t follow was a lot of pride. The First Nations populations in Canada has many hockey fans just like the white population does. It has Inuit fans with their iconic professional player Jordin Tootoo.

Hockey evolved into the sport it is today in Canada, but post-colonization. There were First Nations contributions to the development of the game as we know it, namely the Mi’kmaq people developing their own version of hockey sticks, but any of those contributions were appropriated and continue to go largely unacknowledged.

So it’s historically white, and remains largely white today spare the handful of black and indigenous players in the NHL. These players need to be exceptional to be acknowledged – all players do, really – and for the generalized fan population to notice the increasing diversity of the sport. But much like the rest of this colonized society, the general population is blind to just how blanche the background is, and why it is that these highly accomplished athletes stick out to them. I don’t have the perspective of First Nations or Inuit Canadians on how they perceive the white population’s embracing of players like Price or Tootoo, or the what the various black communities throughout the country see in the white-as-a-blizzard fans celebrating players like Jerome Iginla or Evander Kane. How do people of colour who aren’t hockey fans perceive the hysteria that much of the country has over the sport?

As admitted above, I’m a milder hockey fan than a large chunk of my country’s population, and I’m writing this about an hour after the gold medal game ended and inspired me to whip up something about it, so this isn’t a thoroughly researched piece on the diversity of the professional league of the sport. I’m also a white person, so I don’t have perspective on how the exceptional accomplishments might inspire the underrepresented, nor am I aware of the lesser known non-white hockey players because I am as blind to them as the general white population. But if hockey is going to be continuously reaffirmed as the Canadian sport, it has to be owned by the more diverse population we have from indigenous peoples and the people of colour who have been a part of our country for generations or are more recent arrivals. If Canada owns hockey, non-white Canadians need to claim it equally theirs. Victory is ours, so let’s take a serious look at the “ours” we’re talking about. We clearly need to share involvement and ownership if we want to keep building the best talent in the sport with the people we have.

A False Cisterhood

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Lately I’ve been exposed to quite a bit of writing calling out on TERFs – trans-exclusionary radical feminists – who have made it their righteous crusade to reject trans people from claiming womanhood or joining the collective of feminist voices. Whuh? How does that make any sense, and why is that such a problem?

There was a good article on Bitch Magazine’s website by Tina Vasquez about this, highlighting that it’s mostly one person who’s shouting the loudest with a very small group of women behind her. Cathy Brennan has aggressively, as well outlined by the Bitch article, put anatomy back into defining a woman, as contrary to feminism as that seems.

I just can’t grasp why somebody would care so much about insignificant biological traits of other people, let alone someone who claims to be a feminist leader. The debate about safe spaces for women like gender-segregated washrooms – there is still a risk of woman-on-woman bullying and violence in those spaces; cis men are not physically restricted from entering like there’s a penis-triggered force field; and few people would ever go to lengths of dressing up like a feminine gender to use the loo. Gender-specific trans-excluding washrooms will not prevent risks of violence and confrontation in them, and furthermore, unlike in male washrooms, the toilet facilities in them are entirely stalls. Brennan is a lesbian. Heterosexist women have made the argument that they can’t feel comfortable sharing washrooms with lesbians. Has that ever made Brennan feel discriminated against and dehumanized? How can she not make the connection to that treatment of her and her treatment of trans people?

As a feminist, I like to stand up for women’s rights to talk about their bodies in blunt ways rather than with euphemisms, denial, or shame. As such I talk about vaginas and menstruation as part of feminist dialogue. Mothers should be free to share their experiences of childbirth and nursing rather than leaving their breasts and genitals as the property of their (male) partners’ sexuality instead of the more basic purpose of having them. But as we talk about our cisgendered experiences of womanhood, we should welcome – nay, invite – and LISTEN TO whatever trans or genderqueer people want to share about their bodies. We should listen with respect, because the discrimination and dehumanization that trans people feel is an extension of patriarchy and heteronormativity. It’s body shaming, which is a feminist topic, and talking about it in all its forms, within the comfort zones of the speaker, is in the interest of breaking down patriarchy barriers and blinders.

When someone I just recently met on Twitter tweeted about concerns some people have about trans-inclusive public washrooms and women’s safety, I replied that I’d feel safer in such a place with a trans person than someone so transphobic. The people who can’t get past anatomy are much like the people who don’t acknowledge what washrooms are for – they believe they’re sacred and not to be shit in, literally. I’ve been shamed in women’s washrooms for basic functions of being a living organism, and I won’t tolerate that for me or for trans people. I can shit in a public toilet if I have to, and I’d feel more secure doing so around women who have their own struggles to worry about well beyond what’s coming out of anyone else’s ass.

For the Love of the Poem

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It’s been a whimsical Valentine’s Day. I went on a passionate frenzy of poetry, merging the sentiment of the Romantic era with the medium of the Digital Age.

In other words, I tweeted excessively.

It started the night before, retweeting others, from non-sequitur to social commentary:

Through other people’s RTs, previous years’ classics came back to the surface:

While still in bed this morning, I started my own:

This continued while eating breakfast:

Okay, so the turn towards absurdity kicked in a little early in the day. But it’s Friday, after a long week but before a long weekend, so I knew it would be dreadfully slow-moving until quitting time.

At lunch I came home to eat and got back on track:

The afternoon went on, and some funny people who jumped on this bandwagon were worth retweeting:

But amidst retweeting the marvelous poems above, I made many – too many, some may say – of my own:

(They were Bailey’s chocolates.)

…of course, they couldn’t all be serious. Valentine’s Day has a lot of politics to it, after all, and particularly as a feminist I couldn’t let the pseudo-holiday go without some scrutiny challenging the patriarchy and whatnot. Neither could other feminists and allies.

I don’t know what the original poem of this format said after the first two lines, but the most quoted should be the one right above. On this day when love and commitment and romance are celebrated, we should also celebrate our freedom of choice in when we have sex and with whom. It’s what makes our partners special, and those moments romantic. There’s nothing romantic about rape, whether violent or emotionally abusive or just passively submission, so sex can wait for another day.

I may have more of these poems to come. This depends on how much more I eat, which delegates blood cells and the oxygen they carry to different parts of the body, and how much I drink, which delegates blood cells and the oxygen they carry to different parts of the brain. It’s also a matter of inspiration. In the middle of the day there are other people sharing the fun throughout the world, but many of these people have partners and/or have plans tonight. I might not be so inspired to continue.

Or I might be engulfed by building a brand new neighbourhood from scratch in Sims 2. Check any or all of the above.

One Solitary Leader

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There was panic in Washington as the French President Francois Hollande was coming without a wife, and all known etiquette in hosting foreign leaders, apparently, was based on a wife accompanying them. Oh horror of horrors! It was such a scandal. Invitations and seating arrangements had already been made assuming his partner would join him, and DC would melt if they were shamed to be wrong.

Well, this is at least a better scandal than if the US capital refused to allow Hollande’s since-separated common-law partner, Valerie Trierweiler, to come on the basis that they weren’t traditionally married. That may, however, be more of an acceptance that it’s just as valid for a non-married woman to be the property of her male partner as it is for a wife belonging to a husband – that she is just as ornamental for diplomatic occasions. Consider along with that point the question some people had about why Julie Gayet, the actress Hollande had an alleged affair with, didn’t come with him either. Perhaps it’s because…they’re not in an actual relationship, and she chooses not to be his arm candy? The reputation of the country does not rely on this. Liberated female sexuality is not anti-French in the least – and with the manners the French are reputed for, do we care if they get offended by a faux pas committed? They’re where the term “faux pas” comes from.

This serves as a great example of the heteronormative classist patriarchy we expect of our leaders – not only is the leader implicitly expected to be an assertive man with a graceful and beautiful wife, but we don’t know what to do with ourselves if that’s not the case. If a heterosexual female leader brings her husband, is he to be treated the same way by the First Lady as she would a male leader’s wife – as equals, as counterparts, as diplomatic friends? They can’t speak of each other’s dresses and jewelry the way we expect leaders’ wives to converse. There is a long way to go in what we expect of politicians’ spouses, including removing the insistence that there be one.

The only non-married president in the history of the United States was James Buchanan, in the mid-19th century. Would he stand the public’s scrutiny today for being single? Would a heterosexual woman president’s husband be expected to stand by his spouse if there were an affair like Jackie O stood by JFK? (Asking the same questions with the Clintons as an example is difficult, because Hillary Rodham Clinton has no shortage of her own assertiveness in her separate political career.) The wife of a king can be queen, but the husband of a queen must be a prince, and in the United Kingdom perhaps that should change now that we’ve had time to come to terms with a girl with younger brothers retaining her place in line for the throne.

Shattering the established etiquette in these affairs will benefit most people – it removes several bricks in the barriers many of us face. It removes using spouses, mostly wives, as political tools of image and ceremony and also removes the pressure on leaders to secure a marriage for reasons other than their own happiness (just one example of how feminist principles help everyone, including men). It reduces the number of factors to juggle in maintaining image in order to lead, which can help empower the political careers of those disadvantaged by class. Sexual orientation and gender identity gain more flexibility when the false dichotomy is no longer a part of the painted shell public figures are expected to put on. State visits between different cultures can focus more on core issues when the leaders’ spouses are removed as ornaments and aren’t picked apart by their dress and other cultural practices. Beyond the intersectionalities of gender, race, class, sexuality, and cultural customs is an individual choice that we should all be free to have – the choice to be single, without a depreciation of status, and without public scrutiny.

Dreadfully Disinterested

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We all work live and around “Interesting People” and sometimes those who are incredibly boring can be the most interesting to pick apart. There are many complexities to a simple life – given the plethora of paths and choices galore that everyone can take along the way, how hard must a person work to be successfully line-toeing and plainer than a blank page?

Conversely how simply boring is it to hear about the exciting lives of those who live them? Either they’re surrounded by family and friends who lack the agency to not make bad choices, or they have means to Live Better and nobody wants to hear about it.

Is the monochromatic world the contrast of darkness from light, or is the state of absence a default and a state of presence the deviation?