Why would Regina refer to herself as a ‘fugly slut’?

After suffering through two days spent house-bound, wallowing in my sickness, I made the executive decision on Sunday to get the heck out of dodge (ie. leave the house before I was completely and forever subsumed by my pyjamas and empty mugs of tea.)

Lovely, lovely. I couldn't wait to take a bite of that pain au chocolate.

Even though I wasn’t (and still am not) feeling totally up to snuff, sometimes just a simple change of scenery can really help clear the cobwebs and bring on (if but a fleeting) sense of wholeness and health.

I needed to get out.

Mr. M and I drove to Steveston Village, a quaint and picturesque sea-side community that is a sight to behold in all of its splendour during the warmer months of the year, but pretty darn freezing in the face of a 80km/hour wind storm.

Erm. So maybe cabin fever wasn’t looking so bad the moment I stepped out the car, yet we managed to find a nice place for tasty pastries and over-priced coffees, where we could watch the world pass up by.

I told him how upset I was over the latest facebook meme that’s been making the rounds of late. Four “skinny” celebrities stand at the top of the picture, and four old-school “curvy” starlets pose on the bottom. The clever (take that with a healthy helping of side-eye) caption reads:

When did this (aka skinny) become sexier than that (the ever-malleable) “curvy”?

It’s all I can do not to step back and start yelling, “HEY LADIES! DO YOU NOT SEE ALL THE FISH WE ARE CURRENTLY TRYING TO FRY? I MEAN, THEY ARE SO BIG! WHY ARE YOU FIGHTING THE CAUSE INSTEAD OF SUPPORTING IT?”

Come on.

There seems to be a common misunderstanding that women themselves cannot be misogynists.

We well can. And we are. All the live long day.

I would laugh if it wasn’t such a brutally destructive, highly omnipresent enterprise.

This picture scene is pretty much the embodiment of how all this makes me feel.

I mean, what (might you ask) would the point be in hating on a large, incredibly varied group of individuals, especially if they (along with you) are part of the same (already marginalized) group of people?

It is overwhelming to the point of paralysis (at least for me) to witness how desperate this situation actually is – women hating women is a huge, incredibly pervasive problem.

What is even crazier is how it is carried out with such a blithe, and yet somehow caustic attitude- an ignorance that is equal parts savage as it is glee.

How else could we explain the meme? And its 20,000+ likes?

Why do we float around “eat a sandwich” or ‘lay off the burgers” as if these aren’t even sentences, as if they are addressed to individuals completely stripped of their humanity.

These words, these attitudes are indicative of how we have not only bought into our society’s historically created, and incredibly deep rooted, sex-based hierarchy but are willing participants in its validation and perpetuation every day.

Women body-shame, slut-shame, baby-shame, mother-shame (the list, unfortunately, goes on and on) like it’s a professional sport – as competitors and spectators alike.

As the great Tina Fey says in her seminal work Mean Girls:  “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

Because it gets us nowhere.

This systemic othering is destroying us.

So what do we do?

We stop calling out others to make ourselves feel good. Because our “fat” counterparts (or “thin” foils) are not the enemy here. Because in making them the enemy we are only feeding a machine hell bent on keeping the current (highly negative, violent, and overall destructive) status quo, no questions asked.

Because only if we manage to stop doing this as a collective whole, will we (maybe) be able to step back (as a whole), and then (and perhaps only then) will we be a powerful group, not a fractured, competing entity, fighting over whose discourse (or body shape) is right).

We will actually be able to take on other problems that desperately need to change: deep rooted, highly toxic norms, and the individuals and industries who profit massively off of these norms, and the dissention they are capable of creating and reinforcing among the female populace.

Or else it’s just one serious negative feedback loop.

Please.

So yes. This is what I talked about yesterday.

I'm done with memes unless they revolve around Lenin Cat. For serious.

M listened to me as my cheeks flushed feverish, and my tears ran long, splattering the lenses of my glasses, like the rain on the coffee shop window.

Eventually, our discussion moved to autonomy, and choice, and marketing, and materialism.

And it helped me remember what I so easily forget – that I’m not here raging by myself.

It just would be nice to, every so often, see an internet meme to remind me.

Please Sir – May I have an “other”?

Every year, around November, there is a Big Lebowski beer garden held at UBC. It’s great fun – people show up in costume, drink white Russians and watch the film at the school’s movie theatre, often shouting out dialogue along with the characters. At the beginning of my third year of undergrad, my husband (then boyfriend), a couple of friends and I decided we would go. The Big Lebowski is one of my favorite films and the chance to sit around in my bathrobe, with the people I love, watching a movie I know by heart, was too good an opportunity to pass up. What made it even more spectacular was the fact that one girl who came along with us had never seen the film and didn’t realize that my boyfriend was dressed up as Walter. She told me the next day, “yeah, I thought he was cute but had really weird taste in clothes.”

The night was a gas and we had a great time – right up until the end. As we were leaving the theatre, we noticed that there was a young man passed out on the floor. He had obviously drank way too much and was lying unconscious, with his top half in the middle of the aisle and his lower half hidden behind a row of seats. People were literally stepping over his head if their effort to exit the building. One girl, in her highly inebriated state, tripped and stepped on his arm.

Horrified by this collective lack of interest in this young man’s state of duress, my boyfriend rushed over to help clear him from the aisle and I ran out to the concession stand to get some water. I quickly relayed the information to the attendant that there was a man passed out inside and asked her for her help. She looked at me and scowled.

“Bottled water costs two dollars.”

Dumbstruck, I repeated that this water wasn’t in fact for me, but for the man-of-dubious-medical-condition lying in the auditorium.

“Could I please just have a glass of water?” I asked.

“I don’t have any cups,”was the response I received. As I didn’t have any cash on me, I ran back into the theatre and procured the money from one of my friends.

“They wouldn’t just give it to you?” He asked, incredulously. I just rolled my eyes in response.

Luckily, after getting some water into his system the fellow began to come around. I wanted to take him to urgent care, but one of his friends showed up (I guess one of them had finally realized that he hadn’t left with the group) and he promised that he would take good care of him from then on out. He thanked us for our help.

I gave him the water bottle, told him to make sure his friend took small sips and asked one more time if either of them wanted a ride to the hospital.

They declined.

I don’t understand how over one hundred people could leave a movie theatre and walk over the body of someone unconscious on the ground without so much as a second glance.

I don’t understand how you could slow down and swerve in order to avoid someone lying prone in the middle of the road.

I don’t understand how anyone could hit someone with a vehicle and flee the scene.

I cannot fathom how anyone could walk by a little girl, dying in a puddle of her own blood, and not, at the least, phone for medical help.

It is beyond understanding.

I do however understand that as as society we like binaries. Good-Evil. Young-Old. Black-White. Us-Them. We like to program our rules, our relationships, our identities through a process of “othering.”

We are, what others are not. And events like the one in Guangdong China feed into this system.

It works wonders for building self-esteem and ego. We can feel good about ourselves through the failings of our “other.” On a micro scale, this could be anything as banal as a sense of satisfaction when you find out that someone didn’t get the job they wanted, or they gained weight, or their girlfriend dumped them. On a macro scale, other factors of huge significance, come into play. Political, economic and ideological systems are the backbone to what is essentially a global version of “I know you are, but what am I?”

This system of “othering” also exists within the confines of our society. The political, economic and social stratification of individuals is imperative not only to global Geo-politics, but the functioning and continuing of domestically operated, social, political and economic institutions.

In simplest terms: it keeps the status quo.

It is only when we lose our sense of self, built out of this “othering”, that we as a society, or as individuals, must confront and question our failings. This is difficult because it is not often that a public event of such magnitude forces us to pause, reflect, asses or deconstruct enduring systems (social, political, economic, etc.) because we have created the myth that because we are not our “other”, we don’t need to.

I chose not to watch the video of this incident. But to those who did, I ask you these questions: Why? Did it make you feel better doing so? Did it reinforce how you felt about how you would act in that kind of scenario? And how did it affect, if at all, your view of the people involved, and the country they live in?

I am not saying we should move the microscope away from others, nor am I saying that the systems operating in Canada are equal to the systems operating in China.  Just the opposite in fact.  We must continue to draw attention to perceived and enduring injustice everywhere and question the validity of existing, long-held systems and institutions, so we don’t have to wait for an event of such tragic proportions to force us to do so.

We should all sit firmly under the looking glass, lest we start to drown in our own reflections.