Dear Public: Your Trust in Celebrities Has Gone Too Far

My friend Doug loves his son more than anything. Malaki, his son is 4 years old and has been dealing with his diagnosis of Leukemia for the past 2 and a half years. Malaki goes to karate, plays soccer, and goes to public school. He has friends that ride the Toronto subway, play sports, and catch colds. They may even catch the measles if unvaccinated. They will be ok with some bed rest and medication. They may even pass it to their friends. One of those friends could be Malaki. If Malaki gets it, things may not go so well for him. In fact Malaki will not be ok if he gets the measles because his immune system cannot handle it and his risk of contracting pneumonia, brain damage, and dying are heightened exponentially.

Vaccination has become a dirty word as of late thanks to those who believe that it causes Autism. This, of course, has not been proven, and is only speculation. The measles has also become somewhat of a dirty word recently because it has made a bit of a comeback. Some parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children because of the Autism urban myth.

When parents make this choice, based on theory and celebrity ‘specialists’ such as Jenny McCarthy who blames vaccinations for her son’s Autism they may be exercising their parental freedom for their own kids, but for kids like Malaki, they are doing nothing but extraordinary harm. In fact, they are taking his life into their own hands based on a speculative correlation.

As Doug says in a recent interview with the Toronto Star, ““One of the things that makes me very upset and scared is the number of people who believe something on the Internet, rather than listening to the advice of Toronto Public Health or Sick Kids Hospital. One of the greatest achievements of the twentieth century has been the elimination of these diseases for our kids.”

So, in essence, what we can gather by the recent influx of anti-vaccinators is that death is more favorable than a potential for a developmental disability. The mere thought of a child being ‘different’ from the norm is worth the risk of the measles and all of its complications. It is worth the lives of young folks such as Malaki.

Perhaps anti-vaccinators should look deeply at their own motivations for not vaccinating their children with an antibody that has been developed by those individuals that have spent so much time trying to make our children healthy. Perhaps they should also look at why the influence of celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy outweigh the facts. Or perhaps they should look at the fact that Autism is a dirtier word than Death. Perhaps that is the problem right there.

Dear Public: Your Trust in Celebrities Has Gone Too Far

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Politics and Sexism: Not Much Has Changed

I was recently perusing through my Facebook feed and I came across this article, No Excuses: Why women need to step up. It is, of course, nothing new to read pieces that tell women why they just simply need to buck up and suck it up when attempting to attain equality, but in lieu of recent allegations of sexism in the City Hall offices of Toronto and Calgary I decided to take a closer look at these words of wisdom from writer Scott Gilmore.

“The recent elections in the United States and Canada prove, once again, that there are not enough women in politics. And while systemic sexism doesn’t help, women themselves must shoulder part of the blame,”  says Gilmore. He continues, “The surest way to improve the quality of the political talent pool is tap into the 50 per cent of our population who have traditionally been excluded.” This master plan is simple according to Gilman. because our excuses for not jumping into the piranha tank of white male privilege we call politics are simply not good enough.

In Calgary City Hall, the political haven of the one and only World Mayor Naheed Nenshi, accusations of sexism, drug use, and alcoholism have made national headlines. According to Calgary Counsellor Druh Farrell there has been systemic  sexism going on in Wild Rose Country for years. “I’ve had meetings where there has been a party in the office and it’s disrupted my meetings. When I’ve complained I’ve been told I don’t need to attend. If you look at why there are fewer women on council maybe that can explain part of it, the approach and tone within this building.”

We all know the sexist, racist, and homophobic ramblings of ex-Mayor Rob Ford, but when the race for his successor last year got really ugly. the old favorite attacks reared their ugly heads. Olivia Chow got the brunt of the disgusting characteristics many politicians and Canadians still hold dear to their heart. A self-proclaimed Ford supporter told Chow at a Mayoral debate to “go home, back to China.” Well known and out councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam was told, amongst other things “I hope you get AIDS and die in public office.”

According to Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead women need to jump into the male sphere in whatever way possible. “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on,” Similar to Scott Gilmore, the onus to eliminate sexism in the workplace is put upon the women to accomplish. In other words, we as women should just accept the bullying we receive as common place, and just be thankful for our spot in the system. Well, this isn’t good enough.

In order to fully eliminate sexism in politics, and for any workplace for that matter, systemic sexism needs to be eliminated. This can’t be done by just ‘letting us in’, because you are basically telling us to sit down and shut up. Why should we just jump in as both Gilmore and Sandberg want us to, if it only results in badgering, bullying, and brutality? There has to be a better reason.

So, in response to Scott Gilmore, I say this. You are correct, politics will indeed get better once women play a stronger role in the system. The problem however, lies not in our ability to sign up, but with the fact that politics still doesn’t want us. So before you tell us what we should do, and how we should do it. perhaps you should ask us why we don’t play in the political shark tank instead.

About the Author

Dallas Barnes is a freelance writer, queer community organizer, amateur yogi, and currently attempting to write her first novel. Currently residing in Calgary, she is the kind of proud feminist who will troll Facebook and Twitter looking to argue with the first person she sees that claims that feminism is dead. You can find Dallas’s ramblings on her blog Reset, Rewind, Rebirth…And Again and her Facebook page Dallas Barnes.

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You Should Get This Published: am I really good at something?

Bridesmaids drinks

Narrative Essay

Creative Non Fiction

Feb 5, 2014.

I wish I had remembered her name because she had changed my life.

University life for me in Vancouver in 2003 was chock-full of instrumental feminist instructors who exposed my enclosed underbelly of justice and dues. This particular mentor who I shall call Professor Life Changer, taught my most favorite class, Women Studies: Women, Food, and Culture, a course that examined the role of women and food through a literary lens. The course and instructor introduced me to the books Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel and Aphrodite by Isabel Allende. These two books and authors left an impressive mark on my heart and my soul that no other piece of literature had done before than or after.

Professor Life Changer also introduced me to the art of writing. Not just essay writing, which I had grown bored of, but deep, abandoned, emotive inscription. We wrote essays on everything that ignited my fire, from the beauty and treachery of food, the role of women as true nurturers, and symbolism of the kitchen as a breeding ground for revolution. I was captivated and in it for the long haul. I had taken my first step into my true self. This class was the first chapter to my real life story.

My last assignment for this class was my first time being published, well kind of. The class was to individually write a piece integrating a recipe, much like Allende did in Aphrodite, and the Professor would put it together into an anthology for the class. Mine was called The Dynamite Roll and I utilized the ingredients and assembly of the Dynamite Roll as a metaphor for my tumultuously exciting and tragic existence at the time. She asked me to read it to the class. Once finished, everyone applauded. I had never been applauded to after reading something I had written in class. I took it in, and it felt great.

When I was leaving the class on our last day, Professor Life Changer took me aside. “I think you should get this published,” as she handed me back my assignment. I kind of stopped and stared, perhaps with my mouth wide open. All I could get out in response was “Okay.” I probably should have said more, but I was taken aback, stunned really. I had never, ever considered myself good at anything, let alone writing.

Those words have not left me since that day. I have shifted my life towards the art of the written word. My words have become stronger, more coherent and full of passion, fun, and rage. I have been published, and continue to work on publishing my first novel. And on the front page of that novel will be the words, “For Professor Life Changer. Thank you for telling me that I am good at something.”

You Should Get This Published: am I really good at something?