Monthly Archives: March 2013

Hey MacLean’s, I have a request

Yesterday a wonderful blogging friend of mine posted a link to an article in MacLean’s Magazine on Facebook, along with her expression of disgust at the author’s opinions. She wrote her response this morning, as have many others. I feel like writing about this now may be redundant, but as I have gone about my day with my son, feeding, playing and planning for his upcoming baptism (yes, I know I wrote about Passover yesterday… let’s just say we’re religiously confused, ok?), I haven’t been able to get this filth out of my mind. I don’t want my son to grow up in a world where there isn’t a public outcry in response to such sensationalistic attempts at journalism.

The article in question discusses the Steubenville rape convictions, sexual harassment sparked by the Sarah Thomson/Rob Ford incident, and the firing of Professor Tom Flanagan from the University of Calgary and as a guest commentator on CBC over his comments about child pornography.

I’m not going to address the Steubenville argument any further than to say that if it had been a drunk passed out football player who had been beaten nearly to death in that state, the perpetrator would surely have been convicted of assault quickly and perhaps even quietly. The noise surrounding this case is because the mere suggestion that the girl is in any way to blame and the boys’ actions can just be attributed to a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude is so morally corrupt that I can’t even wrap my brain around it. And clearly neither can many other people.

Sexual harassment… not much to say about that. There is a fine line between joking around and inappropriate conduct sometimes, and those who cross that line need to face the music. It’s about CONSENT. Do we really need to talk about this? I thought it was dealt with decades ago.

As for the firing of Prof Tom Flanagan from both the CBC and the University of Calgary over the child porn comments, I’m not sure that should have happened. I had an economics professor who argued each semester that child labour can be good for the economy. And yes, there is an economic argument for that. My professor was brilliant and made a tough subject easy for me to understand. I don’t think she was actually arguing that we all rush out and hire a bunch of kids, stick them in conditions of squalor and pay them one bowl of rice per day. She was simply arguing that there is an economic argument for it. I think this is the point that Prof. Flanagan was trying to make, though I wasn’t there and haven’t read a transcript, so I don’t know.

The problem with economics, however, is that its arguments only hold up from an economic standpoint. Economics assumes that all humans are ‘homo economicus’ or ‘rational men’ (excuse the sexist term, I didn’t coin it), and they simply aren’t. In economics this means that all people are assumed to act in such a way that maximizes utility as consumers and profits as producers. What is missing from this picture is that most of us are not motivated this way, and those that are would be considered sociopaths. We are sentient beings. We feel for one another. Morally, we know that rape, sexual harassment, and child pornography are WRONG.

Enter Barbara Amiel and MacLean’s Magazine.

We’ve been hearing both sides of the Steubenville incident for months now. We’ve been talking about sexual harassment for years. We can intelligently argue that Prof. Flanagan was not condoning the viewing of child pornography. This woman (I can’t bring myself to call her a journalist because there was simply no integrity in what she wrote), Ms. Amiel, is either one of the aforementioned sociopaths, or she has just gone way too far down the “shock and awe” path that some journalists are wont to take. It’s okay to be controversial, but it is NOT okay to trivialize the rape (and yes, even if it wasn’t the appendage that we normally associate with the term, it is rape) of a teenaged girl, incidents of sexual harassment and the viewing of child pornography. Many of her comments were callous and never in a million years would my brain have gone there. For example:

With regards to Steubenville Ms. Amiel wrote, “In a normal society, the girl’s mother would have locked her up for a week and all boys present would have been suspended from school and their beloved football team. Instead we had a trial and media circus…”

She refers to sexual harassment as a “term invented in the 1970s that ought to have been strangled at birth.”

She continues to miss Flanagan’s point and writes, “I always thought rounding up people for what they privately watch on their computers was a stomach-churning breach of civil liberties far more damaging than the private contemplation of squalid pictures.”

She further misses the point and declares that “the justification that without viewers there would be no market for child porn is accurate as far as it goes, which is about one millimetre.” Actually, there is a very good economic argument. It’s simple supply and demand. If the demand is there, supply will rise to meet it. That’s the way it goes. By making the viewing of child pornography illegal we at least appeal to some pedophiles who know that they have a sickness and know that their actions are wrong. Even if we are only deterring some of them from giving in to their illness, even if it’s out of the simple fear of getting caught and is in no way treating their mental illness, we are still reducing supply. To suggest that viewing child porn harms no one is seriously offensive. There are children being forced to commit unthinkable acts in those videos. Children, the picture of innocence. The ultimate victims.

Ms. Amiel states up front that these topics are ones that “any sensible commentator must preface with ardent assurances that nothing with the possible exception of matricide could revolt more, and only abhorrence flourishes in the breast of the commentator who now feels compelled to address these matters. You have to say that or your licence as a pundit gets withdrawn amid truly vicious attacks.” Well, no. Not exactly. As small as I am, I would like to ask MacLean’s to remove this article from its website, to fire Barbara Amiel, and to issue a formal apology to all victims of these types of crimes and pretty much just to human beings everywhere. Yes, we do need debate in the media, but there is a line that has been crossed here. These are important issues, but they need to be addressed in a way that is not so devoid of basic human decency. This is not healthy debate. This has gone too far. For shame.

Related posts:

The Best Life: No Means No

IHAVEANOPINIONIDLIKETOSHARE: An Open Letter to Perpetrators of Sexual Violece

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Powers of Invisibility

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I might be invisible. I walk in a door and everyone beelines for the kid, which is fine, because I totally don’t need them to validate their love for me as an individual. I know how awesome I am. I think… but anyway, last night we had a big family dinner because the Jews escaped from slavery in Egypt a bajillion years ago. Also, according to my father, something about string theory (I call shenanigans on that one).

Slavery and string theory aside, no one wants to see me anymore, they just want to play with my baby. My own grandmother told me he’s my only claim to fame. Two seconds later she asked if I minded that she said that. I said no, of course not, look how cute the baby is. But secretly I died inside and longed for the days when I could drown my sorrows in a bottle of Bailey’s (because alcohol that tastes like alcohol is yucky). Ok, just kidding. I never really drank. I used to look forward to holidays because I loved spending time with my family, trying to get drunk. I inevitably failed and all my brothers made fun of me, but that was cool. It was just what we did. Now we play pass the baby. The baby doesn’t even have to pretend to get drunk to get their attention. What is that about?

Family and friends: Don't tell grandma there is a picture of her on the Internet. She may not understand the Internet, but that doesn't mean she'd approve of me using her image... but look how cute they are!

Family and friends: Don’t tell grandma there is a picture of her on the Internet. She may not understand the Internet, but that doesn’t mean she’d approve of me using her image… but look how cute they are!

I also noticed that I spent the whole evening obsessing over the baby’s sleep training and fretting that being up past his bedtime would screw it all up. It didn’t help that I tried to put him down to sleep, but then 20 minutes later I found my dad at his bedside trying to explain string theory and the greater meaning of life to him. Ok, just kidding. It was because my dad turned on the music and even though it wasn’t loud it woke up the baby anyway.

When we packed up to leave at the very late hour of 9pm my cousin hugged me and said, “I feel like I didn’t get to talk to you at all.” Um, that would be because she came straight in the door and grabbed the baby and then spent the next half hour holding him on her lap. He bit her finger and drooled all over her leg. If she had been holding me in her lap I wouldn’t have drooled all over her nice pants (can’t say I wouldn’t have bit her finger, though), but pfffftttt, whatever. I considered spilling my red wine all over her sweater and then blaming it on the baby somehow (i.e. putting my powers of invisibility to use for evil), but decided against it. I’m not that desperate. The baby’s cute and I’m not. I get it.

Proof of the alleged finger biting

Proof of the alleged finger biting

I think next Passover I will bundle up the baby in a basket and leave him in a pile of reeds on the doorstep. The story kinda started with a baby in a basket, right? (Right?) My alter ego is very religious, but I’m not, so I’m iffy on the whole story. I may have to pile bricks on top of him though, because by that point he’ll be mobile and probably won’t have the patience to sit in a basket on a doorstep.

Next weekend is Easter and I get to be ignored by a whole other family and religion. Wahoo!

I think it’s absolutely beautiful the way a new baby brings a family together. I guess my powers of invisibility are being used for good after all!

And I’m okay with this cuteness being my claim to fame.

How to (Sleep) Train Your Dragon(s)

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Image from deubellzebub’s Etsy store. Go buy something so that I don’t get sued for stealing this image.

I think Baby Dragon is about to fall asleep for his early morning nap, but I can never be too sure. With babies you can think you have a good thing going and then blammo, your hell spawn is screaming in his crib and you’re cowering in the corner covered in various kinds of bodily fluids (His? Yours? Who the hell knows).

Yes, the time has come to kick sleep training into high gear. Baby Dragon, whose roar of choice is a wail so deep that instead of striking fear in its opponent (me), it penetrates to the very core of my soul/heart/being (reader’s choice!) and whittles away at my sense of reason by activating the self-doubt gene that every parent struggles their whole existence to overcome. But THAT is the challenge of the ‘cry it out’ (CIO) school of thought. When your baby dragon is wailing alone in his cage (crib), demonstrating his mad drama skillz (he is going to make it in Hollywood, I swear!), you will question your parenting choices. Is CIO really the way to go? What if he really NEEDS me?

Answers: Yes, it is the way to go. And if he really needs me, I will know it, and no book detailing a method is going to deter me from picking him up!

How do I know it’s the way to go? Because sleep in this house is on its way to being something that actually exists! CIO, contrary to popular believe, does not mean leaving your dragon to wail himself into a fury, hone his fire breathing abilities and burn your house down so that you wake up amongst the smouldering cinders (that exact scenario is the popular belief). It is actually a progressive waiting method. The idea is that you put your dragon in his cage awake, tuck him in, kiss him goodnight and leave. If he cries you set a timer and wait until it runs out before going back in. When you go back in you may adjust blankets, replace a soother, pat and kiss for reassurance, but for the love of God DO NOT PICK UP YOUR BABY DRAGON! If you do he will demonstrate the fire breathing skills he’s been working on and you will not only be homeless, you’ll also be hairless… and everyone knows that if you’re homeless in this winter climate you need lots of hair, so please, don’t be ridiculous. You then leave the room again after having spent no more than two minutes with your baby dragon. If he starts to cry again you reset the timer for a slightly longer period and wait it out once more. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat etc. The miracle is that we have never gone beyond two wait periods! This method works for this dragon!

Baby Dragon asleep in his cage

Baby Dragon asleep in his cage

And not only does it work, it has improved his sleep. When we were co-sleeping and Daddy Dragon was relegated to the spare room, Baby Dragon was waking up every 1.5-2 hours during the night. Since the CIO sleep training has begun the 5-6 wake ups/night has been reduced to 1. Yup, that’s right. 1. 1 measly little almost insignificant wake up! It’s a miracle. So, you’d think this mama would be getting some sleep now. Well, you’d be Wrong. That’s right. So wrong that the ‘W’ needs to be capitalized.

Let’s back up a bit.

The sleep training began not by choice. It began because Daddy Dragon reclaimed his rightful place in bed. He weaselled his way back in by engaging in our most romantic conversation to date. It went something like this:

J: The baby is sleeping in his crib tonight.
S: No! I’m not ready!
J: Don’t be a wimp.
S: I’m not a wimp! I’m just not ready! Neither is the baby!
J: You promised that at 4 months he’d go in the crib.
S: … (I got nothing… it’s true. I did promise).
J: So the baby is going in his crib tonight, end of story. (He tries to end the story quite often. He has yet to realize that is isn’t the sole author of this story. Hell, he’s not even the first author of this story! I’m pretty sure that’s the kid.)
S: Fine. If you want the bed back I guess I could sleep with the baby in the spare room.
J: What do I have to do to make you realize that I want you in my bed again? Tell you?
S: Um… yes?

D’awe. Aren’t we sweet?

Romance Fail

This is typical of J’s idea of romance, and is the reason why yes, he did need to tell me!
Image courtesy of mindskin.com

So, Baby Dragon went to his crib that night with no time for me to mentally prepare (probably a good thing cuz I would have just psyched myself out) and Daddy Dragon reclaimed the west side of the bed. At first I was happy that he had expressed a desire to sleep by my side again… but then reality set in and I was swiftly reminded of how difficult it was to learn to sleep by each other’s side comfortably in the first place. Daddy Dragon’s roar of choice is the snore roar, and let me tell you, it is loud and it is mighty. Mighty. Loud. He also likes to fight battles in his sleep which involves a lot of thrashing and grunting. These are the various forms he took last night:

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Image courtesy of my real life experience

The pink ‘x’ represents where I fit into the picture. b. is the absolute worst case scenario because I have the least space and the weird neck angle results in the most tremendous snore roar. All scenarios result in blood pouring out of my ears and unhealthy homicidal thoughts. I’m not too sure if sharing the bed again is so good for our relationship… ok, that’s not true. I value the pre-sleeping cuddle time and we did manage to figure out bed-sharing once before. I just need to recommence the shoving and punching that beat him into shape last time around.

Baby Dragon has awakened from his nap and is letting out that frustrated cry that only creatures with underdeveloped wings can master, so off I go to rescue him.

Despite my whinging, I love my Dragons

Despite my whinging, I love my Dragons. Aren’t they beautiful?

P.S. I love that I have about five million drafts started, but this post is the one that made it to completion. Why? Because two of my favourite blogesses have also posted about sleep (or, to be more accurate, lack thereof) in the last two days. Sleep is so important and so scarce with wee ones around. I have to credit their misery for the actual completion of this post. Check them out:

Sanity Has Left the Building

A (mostly) Depressing Post