Confessions of a Chick in Paris (and beyond)

Confessions of a Chick in Paris (and beyond)

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Hollywood and Sexism and Stop Being Terrible

October 11, 2017 3 Comments

Female_RoseThis has nothing to do with travel or writing, but everything to do with a bubbling rage, a widespread disgust felt by anyone who’s spent more than 5 minutes reading about “Hollywood mogul” Harvey Weinstein’s thirty years of sexual harassment and assault against women.

This afternoon and last night, a best friend and I stoked the fires of rage across countless furiously-typed text messages, exchanging our disgust at how women could be so mistreated, not just by a wretched man but by a system meant to silence them. Before long we were asking ourselves where Hollywood ends and society begins, and the line is unfortunately far too blurred to make any sort of clear distinction.

It comes down to that “chicken and egg” thing; which came first? Do we diminish and intimidate women because of their diminished roles on screen, powered by a Hollywood machine led by men who made it happen? A machine that gives the majority of significant speaking roles in films to men? Or demands that most films need a sexy girlfriend but not the other way around? Or dictates that Tom Cruise’s female lead in a movie will be 25 years his junior because that’s totally normal? Or creates countless movies about a male loser’s “coming of age,” where he “finds himself” and becomes a better man thanks to the “quirky magical girl with the cool personality,” who somehow had no needs of her own, but only existed to “show him the way?” (I am so sick of those movies I will stab my eyes out if I have to see another one)

Or…did the Hollywood machine create all of this because we wanted it? Are we being too hard on the (mostly) men who run Hollywood–excluding Harvey Weinstein who is clearly an evil asshole–because they’re simply responding to demand with an adequate supply?

I started thinking about this and I couldn’t come up with a clear answer, at least not one that I’d be able to fit onto Twitter. I’m not even sure if the unlimited character-count of a blog will help me formulate an answer, but I find myself asking: how did we get here? 

When I break it all down and try my best to organize everything I’ve read, observed, and experienced first-hand, the one common thing at the root of it all seems to be that women are interpreted as objects for male pleasure. This may not be a “100% all the time” thing that overwhelms my sense of self all day long, but in some form or another, isn’t it here, there and everywhere? If you’re squinting your eyes and struggling to find this problem, let’s not forget that Hugh Hefner built an entire industry on this very concept. He LITERALLY had a mansion full of ADULT WOMEN called “bunnies,” whose ONLY role was to be fully available as pleasure objects. And let’s not pretend he was some rogue eccentric, like “oh Hef, that ONE crazy guy who views women this way…” Yeah right. In fact, mainstream celebrities and wannabes would trample over each other to get invites into those Playboy mansion pool parties, and all the while middle-class “normals” would happily envision the fantasy.

Beyond the universe of the late and gross Hugh Hefner, we live in a society where so much comes back to the orbit of male pleasure (see: Viagra and lack of surefire women’s equivalent). If you’re unconvinced, think about one of the first things anyone says when a women is harassed on the street, or assaulted, or faces unwanted advances on the subway, or in an elevator, or at a bar, or in the office, or in a cave (please insert any location in life). The first and most common question is “what was she wearing?”

Seriously, how many bajillion times is this stupid question asked?

The only way to explain this question is that society orbits around male pleasure, a.k.a the uncontrollable, inevitable, probability that a dude will get a boner.

“If you didn’t want to cause “street boners,” you shouldn’t have worn that.”

“If you’re showing cleavage at the office, don’t be surprised when you turn around and find a “corporate boner.”” 

Obviously the wording in dress code policies or rape case courtroom trials is different, but the thinly-veiled implication is always there. It’s never about a man somehow figuring out a way to NOT harass a woman, or to NOT have a boner, but instead it’s always about what a WOMAN can do to limit the number of boners she’s responsible for, like maybe if she didn’t go out so late at night, she would reduce the risk of triggering spontaneous boner syndrome. I mean…what?

I don’t have a direct solution to this problem, and I do acknowledge that a lot of men are respectful, cool, and trusted allies (and I’m happy to know a few of them!). There are however far too many men who live in a bubble of entitlement; entitled to the Victoria’s Secret models as seen on TV, despite having nothing to offer in return, entitled to hooking up with a girl just because he bought her one drink, or entitled to a conversation on the subway, just because he graced some unsuspecting woman with his leering smile.

To these wretched, wayward entitled fools, I offer you a check-list, because after the scandalizing demise of Harvey Weinstein, a (tiny) optimistic part of me believes that your horrible behaviour won’t fly anymore, so here is some advice to improve yourselves:

Checklist for treating women like human beings with the most basic level of respect:

  1. Don’t ever tell a woman you pass in the street to smile, i.e. “hey, why don’t you smile?” or “how about a smile?” or “you should smile more!” or any variant of that.
  2. If you’re dumb enough to tell the woman in point #1 to smile and her face remains the same, don’t loudly exclaim “bitch!” because she didn’t smile.
  3. Don’t ever gesture to a woman on the subway to take off her headphones as if you have some important information to share–i.e. something fell out of her bag, she dropped a mitten, etc–only to in reality say “Hey, how are you doing?” If there are headphones in her ears she doesn’t want to talk to you; you don’t need to understand why, you just need to respect that it’s her private time (like maybe she was listening to her favourite podcast, can’t you just allow her that pleasure?)
  4. Never strike up a conversation with a woman when she’s walking alone at night, because for safety purposes she can only assume you’re a rapist.
  5. If the woman you’re trying to talk at night in point #4 ignores you, don’t walk faster to catch up with her, because a strange man speed-walking towards a woman is terrifying.
  6. If you are one of those guys who thinks women are objects for your pleasure, take a long hard look in the mirror, and ask yourself if YOU are an object of a woman’s pleasure. If you are not at least equally beneficial to a woman’s pleasure as the pleasure you seek, stay in your house and watch Netflix forever (there’s a huge database of movies and shows and they update their content every month).
  7. APPENDIX: if you are one of the good guys, don’t make the mistake of saying the mistreatment of women is awful because you have sisters or daughters or nieces and it “really hits home.” The mistreatment of women is awful because women are human beings, and no further context is needed. The End.



Continuing Love For Paris and Thoughts About Humanity

November 19, 2015 2 Comments

Attentats a Paris, la tour Eiffel aux couleurs du drapeau francais, tricolore, bleu blanc rouge Hommage aux victimes *** Local Caption *** Vue de nuit

It’s been less than a week since the attacks in Paris, and before I ruminate and pontificate on the city of lights and the world at large, it’s an incredibly sad thing. So many people lost, so many friends and families who must be suffering immensely right now…it certainly makes me reflect.

I’ll be the first to admit that after the Paris attacks happened, I had a blind spot for similar tragedies in other parts of the world. The attack in Beirut, the attack in Baghdad…I was so concerned with how my friends were doing in Paris, and how my favourite city was doing, that I didn’t even pay attention to what else was going on. I don’t think it’s ill-intentioned to worry more intensely for people you care about or a city you’ve lived in versus people you’ve never met or a city you don’t know, but if I’m being honest, even before this happened…was I always the most aware of what was going in every part of the world? Did all events affect me equally? Or are there so many things going on, that sometimes I read a headline and forget about it five minutes later? I think it’s okay to admit that sometimes we in the western world have our heads up our own asses, as long as we realize that from this point forward, humanity is at a crossroads; that we’ll either thrive together…or utterly destroy ourselves together.


Speaking of utter destruction (I’ve never used that term before; hmm…sign of the times?), it’s only been a few days since the terrible attacks, and we already seem to be falling for Voldemort’s trap. You’ll notice that I just said “Voldemort” of Harry Potter fame, because I’m not going to use the famous acronym which identifies the terrorist attackers. I won’t use it because…the people who google that term are either 1. in the group and reading about themselves; 2. researching how to join the group and therefore already full of evil and hate; or 3. functional racists who exist all around us, those who seek out articles and stories about the group, so they can use that as evidence to support their asinine theory that “Muslim equals terrorist.”


Why would I want to look at that acronym over and over as I type it, and then SEO optimize my blog to invite all those fuckers for the ride? I’m writing this for the rest of us.


And so, I will henceforth say “Voldemort” when referencing the terrorist group responsible for so much evil (an appropriate substitution, given Voldemort’s “piece of shit” status in Harry Potter).

Now, where were we?


Oh yes…so it’s only been a few days, and people are already falling for Voldemort’s terrorist group trap. The trap of course involves paranoia, prejudice and acts of hate against Muslims, simply because they’re Muslims. This is precisely what Voldemort wants, i.e. eliminating the “grey zone,” to pit one side against the other. They even wrote about it in their piece-of-shit terrorist documents. The hate they’re trying to perpetuate has been going on since 9/11 and long before, but since November 13th, 2015, there’s been a marked increase in the troubling trifecta: paranoia, prejudice, and acts of hate. In Canada, this can be summarized by the following events (and certainly many more I haven’t heard about): a fire set to a mosque in Peterborough, a Muslim woman in North York who was attacked by two men outside the school where she was picking up her kids, and a Muslim woman at a Loblaws grocery store, who accidentally bumped her shopping cart into another woman’s cart, which led to the other woman saying: “please don’t blow me up” (the truth of which I don’t doubt for a second, on top of which it happened to a friend of a good friend).


I saw the article for the woman attacked in North York as a viral post on Facebook, and even though I know you should never read the “comments” sections of articles (as they are filled with the bottom layer of society’s slime), I thought to myself: “These commenters aren’t anonymous, they’re using Facebook profiles connected to their friends and family; surely they wouldn’t make themselves look stupid? Surely the vast majority will speak out in the woman’s defence?”


I was wrong.


I saw a lot of crazy-ass things in that comments section, written in calm language from seemingly normal-looking people. Things about how Muslims aren’t “true Canadians”…things about how those male attackers are brave protectors of us all, because this woman in her hjiab somehow threatens our children’s safety…and the bestselling number-one chart-topper ignorant remark…”Muslim equals terrorist.”


The “true Canadian” comment was probably the most ridiculous, simply because it’s a new form of idiocy I’m hearing; not only was our country built on the shoulders of immigrants and their subsequent descendants, but we’re not even a hundred and fifty years old. The oldest person to have ever lived? A one hundred and twenty-two-year-old woman. So umm…to do some quick calculations…our entire country’s history spans the lifetime of one old woman, plus a hot twenty-six-year-old dude. And yet apparently….we have some deep historical symbol of what it means to be a true Canadian? I’m pretty sure we’re very much still forming our country’s history, yet here we are, making our legacy racism.


Seriously, you dumb fucks.


I wanted to say all of this in the comments section; I mean come on, I had so much logic and so many facts and so much common sense to support me! For example, *ahem*…if  “Muslim equals terrorist,” then how come white women from England who’ve clearly never read the Qur’an are running off to join the Voldemort army? Or if religion itself fuels terrorism, then why wasn’t Christianity banned in the United States, after twenty years of mass shootings by so many Christian white males? I had all these comebacks and more!! How could it go wrong?!


Before I typed my first word, I took a closer look at the comments section.


What I saw was people just like me, being the voice of reason, presenting irrefutable logic, and denouncing racist attitudes. Somehow though…the other person chose willful ignorance, and continued to argue back. And then the voice of reason would argue back…and on and on this went.


It would’ve been SO easy to spend the next hour embroiled in that debate, but I realized that spending my time like that, would not make the world any better. I don’t want to argue with people who, in the biggest irony of all, now work for the Voldemort terrorist group they’re so adamantly trying to combat. Yes, fuckers, by helping Voldemort spread paranoia and hate about Muslims, you are creating your own war on humanity, and you are now an unpaid employee of Voldemort. Voldemort doesn’t even have to do anything anymore; Voldemort can relax in a leather armchair and eat Cheetos and laugh about how easy this all is, thanks to all these people who should probably update their LinkedIn profiles, to reflect their volunteer hours for the Voldemort cause.


All of this makes me wonder how such OBVIOUS irony can be lost on people; i.e. even if a person is quietly racist (ugh, you suck), how can he/she NOT realize that by now being loudly racist or even loudly paranoid, they are aiding their greatest foe? I wonder if these irony-deficient people listened to the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette one too many times, and therefore ended up learning the incorrect meaning of irony. Seriously Alanis, if a black fly in my chardonnay is irony, then I guess walking down the street and stepping on a piece of gum is irony, because according to you, Alanis, irony is simply “when not great things tend to happen.” What the fuck, Alanis.


As I leave my disdain for Alanis’s lyrical choices in the rearview mirror, I will simply say that while I choose not to argue with those who won’t listen, that doesn’t mean I’m feeling hopeless. The ironic employees of Voldemort might have a loud obnoxious voice, but if we stop listening and stop engaging, they’ll just be talking into the wind, while we’ll be over here, focusing on positive interactions. This might not be an easy approach for Muslims, as many are already hearing words of hate directly, while simply trying to live their lives (and as that North York woman knows, the words can often escalate to worse). For that, I am truly sorry, and I wish it wasn’t so. For the rest of us, we can diminish the dumbass voices ever so slightly, by choosing to ignore them altogether. Seriously guys, if an asshole says stupid shit in a forest, but no one’s around to hear it, did that asshole really even speak?


So what about those positive interactions? Well I’m not naive, and I know that being nice and holding hands won’t fix all the problems. But here’s the thing: I’m not in the government strategy rooms, planning the next military mission; I’m not in the police force, having to lead raids and make arrests to help keep people safe. I’m here, on my basic humanity level, believing that each little positive interaction can make a difference. It’s all about percentages, and if the number of positive interactions is able to out-weigh the negatives, then maybe humanity won’t crumble. These things can include smiling at the Muslim person on the subway instead of avoiding eye contact, sharing links for positive stories (if you can find them in this mass-media hell hole), or using these unexpected savings if you got them, to donate to a person or cause in need:


(Thank you Rogers, you usually annoying corporation with sub-par customer service).


As I leave this act of writing, I acknowledge that the darkness isn’t over, and that more tragic events might happen in the future. I won’t however, contribute to the self-fulfilling crumbling of society. Not for a second.


And to my adopted family in Paris…I am so relieved you’re all safe, and your resilience and positivity is an inspiration. Let’s fill up another insta-collage real soon… xo.




PS: if you’re still here, you might want to try this clip, which beautifully (and much more efficiently!) encompasses what I’m saying, in a 3-minute narration by the late bestselling author of COSMOS, Carl Sagan (along with compelling imagery to accompany it)