You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we are here today.”

– A rape victim to her abuser

Being drunk or walking alone is not asking to get raped. Being adorable or sweet is not an invitation for violation! NO MEANS NO! No response ALSO MEANS NO! There is no non-consensual sex, there is consensual sex and then there is rape. All parties involved must be in willing agreement and capable of making decisions.

As a woman I have been told never to walk by myself. I have been warned that if my clothes were too revealing I might “attract the wrong attention.” I have attracted the wrong attention without even batting an eyelash. I have heard horror stories of women being thrown down in alleys and beaten to within an inch of life, having their dignity and sometimes their lives taken by predators.rape pie chart
Its a scary world, for everyone. I even know a man who was victim of a brutal rape, he woke up half naked in an ally in the middle of the day, drugged and taken advantage of.

Movies and the internet do not help rape culture. I often recall being deeply disturbed by the rape scene in A Clockwork Orange, and know that there is even more brutal scenes out there now and a whole genre of rape porn.

But still, it’s deeper than that. At the end of the day its a human being making the decision to be evil and heartless, to take something that is not being offered. The next scene of the woman in a shower, never being able to wash away the dirt she feels inside.

In January of 2015 two Swedish Stanford students were biking across campus and discovered a rape happening. They chased down the assailant and he was arrested. 20 year old Brock Turner was found guilty on three counts of sexual assault.

He was found behind a dumpster thrusting himself on top of and violating a half nude woman who was passed out. He could have faced up to 14 years in prison. He was only sentenced to six months in county jail and probation.

The judge feared that a more severe punishment would have too severe of an impact on the young man. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! SEVERE IMPACT? ON HIM!? WTF! HE IS A RAPIST!

A rapist who happened to also be a champion swimmer, all American white bread Olympic bound perfection. It was more important that this perfect boy who just made one little itty bitty rapey mistakey would be ok in the end.

Did the judge even consider the women he raped? The woman who he put his rotten fingers inside and forced himself upon? The woman who will never feel truly clean.

The victim spoke out with a poignant statement to Buzzfeed. She explains the course of her day, remembering going to a party with her younger sister, and then waking up covered in blood in a hospital with no panties on and pine needles in her hair. She then continued to describe the invasive aftermath of photos and tests, nurses measuring abrasions, and questioning.

She was black out drunk and raped, because she remembered nothing he got to make all of the rules. HE got to fill in the blanks. The man who raped an innocent woman will of course say she wanted it, she ASKED for it even. A made up night of dancing and kissing. She was drunk and he took advantage of her weakness.

Her life was halted, not knowing how to talk to even her family or boyfriend about that night. She became isolated and stopped sleeping.

While at work one day she came across an article about her attack. She learned for the first time (like the rest of the internet) that she was found butt naked from the waist down with a strange man on top of her. One of her saviors was crying when describing the scene. The gory details were on the internet before the victim was even informed!

WHAT? She was studied and prodded then sent out into the world with no therapy, then the investigation happened and she wasn’t told, it happened to her and she had to find out at work. As if she was invisible, she didn’t matter. In the article the rapist claimed that SHE LIKED IT!

After reading the entire article about the gory details of her assault, the article listed his swimming times. His swimming times were more relevant than her goddamn life. She couldn’t digest the information and passed out when trying to tell her family what happened.

She realized that if it hadn’t happened to her he would have raped some other girl instead. Thank god he was caught, he will pay for this, she thought. ct-brock-turner-stanford-rape-20160607

Money and privilege win out, surprise. The over priced lawyers turned her into a demon and glorified Brocky-poo. He was drunk too, but not “black out.” Yea she liked it, she danced with me, she rubbed my back.

Bullshit. No woman wants to be face down covered in pine needles behind a dumpster. No good human has sex with someone who is unconscious and flees from the scene when confronted.

He knew damn well he was wrong and still didn’t have to pay for it because he is white, rich, and a star athlete. The rules are different.

The helplessness she felt was even more traumatic than the deed itself. In the end she says that she suffered for every girl out there who is going through the same thing, there are so many more, so many who have never spoken out. Invisible victims of society, taught that it was their fault.


Things need to change! Victims of sexual abuse have no voice, the consequences of such evil deeds need to be more severe, it is a travesty.

It is also about class and race. If a poor black man was convicted of a similar crime against a white woman he would be hung, nobody would care, there would be no surprising headline. Everything must be equal. No matter your race or class you must be punished for your wrong doings equally.

It is not fair that we do not feel safe, I am often asked if the streets around where I work are safe to walk at night, I want to say Yes, but really think No, there are no safe places for women. No matter where we are there is a chance for horrific things to happen to us, day or night.

Nothing we wear or don’t wear, nothing we say or do can save us. UNLESS we stand together and take back the night, we stand with our sisters would have been abused and make sure it never happens again. We fight to make sure rapists get what they deserve and let it be known that women are strong, especially together.

Do not be silenced, do not stand for this.

The world’s most ambitious social engineering policy may be coming to end. A state-own Chinese think-tank, China Development Research Foundation, concluded that China’s One-Child policy needs to stop. In its report last November, the think-tanked recommended a national two-child policy for 2015 with the elimination of limits to birth by 2020. China’s leader, Xi Jingping, has also indicated undertaking a revision of the policy.

If it does get scrapped, it would conclude a controversial chapter in China’s history. Since the policy was adopted in 1979 it has faced protests from the outside world and human rights observers over practices of forced abortions and inspired infanticide.

China also faces growing gender disparity issues largely because of the one-child policy. In most countries, women make up the base of the pyramid and men the tip at the top. Because of Mao Zedong’s social engineering, the pyramid has turned upside down.

There are fewer women who are at the tip of the pyramid, rising up the social stratus and a massive male population at the base of the lower economic strata. This has considerably strained Confucianist traditional family values in the nation.

Career women are suddenly more selective with life partners, preferring a partner that is their equal in a respectable profession. Beijing has responded by demonizing single women. Women, especially in their 20s (and close to their 30s) are targeted in Chinese propaganda campaigns.

Zhongdian, one child posterA television show called “30” was produced to project the stressful lives of single 29 year-old career women known as “leftover women” who suffer from the miseries of the dating world. Women have an expiry date of 30 years and afterwards men no longer find them “desirable.”

The show drives home the idea that women should leave stressful careers to have husbands pamper them. Intelligent women see through the façade but during the holidays their traditional parents expect them to bring home male breadwinners. So much so that agencies have started up “rental boyfriends” services.

Essentially, it is what it sounds like: fake boyfriends for a day to meet the client’s family. The industry has been so widely successful that popular films and television shows have spawned romantic and comical storylines of clients and rental boyfriends falling in love. It also raised awareness among parents who try to catch their children in a lie by asking elaborate details of their relationship backstories.

Likewise, for men the demand has fueled the emergence of bridal headhunter agencies. These agencies scout prospective women, in malls and shops, soliciting young attractive women into dates with wealthy clients.

But for the poor and populous men, they will have tougher times finding girlfriends since wealthy businessmen snatch them all up. Chinese men, generally, seek less-threatening paragons of femininity. Consequently, men are increasingly marrying socially “lower” ethnic Chinese women, minorities like Koreans or finding brides abroad. In other words, women are marrying up, while men are marrying below their social status.

Another criticism of the one-child policy has been the legacy of the “little emperor” complex and “4-2-1 problem.” The policy has left parents putting only one egg in one basket, in a manner of speaking. The only child across China is often spoiled and has poor relationships with their parents in the future. In addition, “4-2-1 problem” places pressure on the only child in adulthood to provide support for his or her two parents and four grandparents.

China is further renouncing its welfare efforts to care for retired seniors. The onus ultimately falls on retiree’s savings, charity and their only child for financial assistance. Consequently, China recently enacted a mandatory parental visitation policy as a result of rising neglect by adult only children.

Coupled by a cutthroat economic reality deteriorating Chinese family bonds, the problem has exacerbated to such alarming rates that there has been escalation of parental abuse and inheritance theft. While it was enforced to curb social maladies related to overpopulation the economy and environment, the one-child policy has produced a nest of other social maladies.

It is almost certain that Xi Jianping will remove the one-child policy. However, it is equally wise to install a two-child policy this year rather than two years from now. Given the already manifested aftermaths of one-child it would be prudent to nip it in the bud.

* Images by Andrew Turner (top) and Adrian Zwegers via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

Regarding gender equality, Sweden is a very progressive place. Recently, some clothing stores have removed their “boys” and “girls” clothing departments and The Swedish Bowling Association plans to abolish the separate categories for men and women to make the sport more gender-neutral. In 2010, the World Economic Forum deemed Sweden the most gender-equal country on the globe.

Now they’re taking a step further towards gender-neutrality with the introduction and growing acceptance of the neutral pronoun hen.

A midway point between han (Swedish for he) and hon (she), hen was officially added to an online edition of the country’s National Encyclopedia earlier this year after being employed in recent years by linguists, journalists and writers such as Jesper Lundqvist in his gender-neutral children’s book. This is just one of many of the country’s efforts to raise children in a world free from gender stereotypes.

A recent flyer in Sweden featured a boy dressed as Spiderman pushing a pink baby carriage and a smiling blond girl riding on a pint-sized tractor. At school, children are encouraged to form ‘daddy, daddy, child’ and ‘mommy, mommy, child’ families alongside the traditional ‘mommy, daddy, child’ structure in play games like house.

While hen’s champions argue that the word is a useful and practical tool for writers, others have criticized its use for being too politically and ideologically motivated. Renowned Swedish author Jan Guillou dismissed it as being the tool of “feminist activists who want to destroy our language.” Other critics have pointed out that introducing a third, ambiguous word into the mix can be psychologically damaging for young children’s personal discovery of their own sexuality and gender.

Interestingly, I found no formal response or statement from Sweden’s transgendered community on their acceptance of the term. Since they are often marginalized by the gender binary, they are among those with the most to gain from the widespread use of a neutral pronoun.

Since the 1780s, linguists have struggled to come to an agreement on a widely accepted gender-neutral pronoun in English. Many have been proposed over the years, though none have stuck in common parlance or academic literature. Notable suggestions have included e, hu, thon, ve, ze, and zhe. One of the major obstacles faced in this area is that the English language lacks a singular administrative authority that decides on and implements the use of new words.

While Sweden seems to be one of the first countries amending its language to include gender-neutrality, perhaps they could have looked to their neighbor Finland for an even more balanced approach: the Finnish language does not contain distinctive pronouns like he or she to connote gender.

Do you think English could benefit from its own gender-neutral pronoun, and if so, what is your best suggestion for the most plausible, natural choice??

One Toronto baby is causing quite the storm of controversy over the parents’ contentious decision not to reveal the child’s gender, in an attempt to allow the baby to develop free from the constraints of gender stereotypes.

It all began when Kathy Witterick  and David Stocker,  the parents of 5-month old baby Storm, sent an email to their family and friends which read, “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place?…).”

Almost instantly after the story hit the blogosphere, the message boards and comments sections for news articles were ablaze with readers damning the couples for what was deemed a “bizarre lab experiment”. Witterick, 38 and Stocker, 39, have declined numerous interview requests this week with most of the major media outlets across North America. They will be appearing on CBC Radio’s Q with Jian Ghomeschi on Monday morning to defend their controversial parenting tactics.

This really got me thinking about how something as simple as a piece of clothing can drastically affect how we treat an infant. Witterick acknowledged this in an interview with the Toronto Star, when she said “When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?”

Psychologists have acknowledged that parents intentionally and unintentionally treat baby boys differently than baby girls. Similarly, the way we treat a baby can be very dependent on what clues we can ascertain about the baby’s gender identity from its clothes or name. In today’s consumer-crazed world, there’s no shortage of ways for new parents to ingrain gender identity into their child’s sense of self, with everything from the paint in the nursery to the shades of the baby booties.

Up until about a hundred years ago, infants and children were generally clothed in white, as it could be bleached to remove stains and odours. In the mid 19th century, coloured clothing for babies was introduced, though pink was generally for boys and blue for girls.   According to a trade publication from the era, pink was a stronger and more decided colour, hence more suitable for boys, while blue was viewed as more delicate and dainty, thus a more apt choice for pretty little girls. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the dominant trends flipped and pink became the norm for baby girls and blue for boys.

I applaud the parents of baby Storm for this intriguing approach to parenting. To me, it doesn’t seem so much like they’re trying to raise a genderless child as they are trying to prevent everyone around them from applying their gender biases to the child. However, as far as social experiments go, the time frame for this one is relatively short. It’s easy to try to treat a baby in a gender-neutral manner, but what happens when baby Storm reaches their toddler years or goes off to school and has to weather a whole new set of questions about identity and gender?

The closest indication of how things will turn out for baby Storm can be seen in the behaviour of the child’s sibling, Jazz, a five year old boy whose favourite color is pink and who loves wearing his hair in braids. He keeps a notebook where he  muses about gender in pink and purple lettering that reads,”Help girls do boy things. Help boys do girl things. Let your kid be whoever they are!”

Photo of Baby Storm (in red) with older brother, Jazz

Photo Credit – Steve Russel, Toronto Star

Montreal SlutWalkers gathered yesterday afternoon to send a message that no style of dress or behaviour should result in personal shaming, or suggest an openness to a sexual advance or assault.

Thousands of self-proclaimed sluts took to the main arteries of downtown Montreal chanting their messages of sexual freedom, pride, and solidarity. Gaping mouths, smiles, and general shock invaded onlookers’ faces as the scantily clad collection of men and women flooded the streets with protest signs and impressive amounts of nakedness and cleavage.

If you’re as confused or troubled as most onlookers seemed about using the word “slut” for a seemingly positive cause, then there’s more to the story that you need to understand. SlutWalk is a social movement that’s seeking to bring pride, tolerance, and freedom into peoples’ sexuality, to counter the negative dialogue surrounding sex and sexual expression.

In a series of speeches during the event, the Montreal SlutWalk organizers all agreed that contemporary society has taught us that being a slut (traditionally meaning sexual promiscuity, or simply being overtly sexual) is a shameful, or even disgusting thing to be. “Slut pride”, as expressed by the event’s participants, is about empowering people to dress how they want and feel comfortable as they are. An equally important goal is to sensitize the general public to the idea that this sexual freedom of expression isn’t an open invitation to judgement or aggression.

Montreal burlesque troupe Glam Gam’s Julie Paquet elaborated that the word “slut” is usually used to shame people for being sexy or expressing their sexual freedom. Labeling someone as “slutty” is even used as an excuse to sexually assault someone who seemingly “deserved it”. In response to this ongoing social condition, which ranges from derogatory name-calling to full-out sexual assault and rape, the SlutWalk speakers made their point loud and clear. Judging someone based on their promiscuity or other factors such as gender, age, style, and sexual history is unacceptable,   and is not a valid excuse to put someone down or sexually assault someone.

So, what does being a slut really mean?

Jessica Klein, FTB’s sex columnist and one of the event’s organizers, noted that the Montreal SlutWalk is all about taking back the word “slut” and re-appropriating it. “Being a slut is being in charge of your own sexuality”, which Klein affirms “it should never be an invitation to judgement or violence”.

“A slut is someone who is sexual, who enjoys having sex, maybe with multiple partners or with certain fetishes” says one female SlutWalk attendee. Still cringing from using the word? “I acknowledge and respect the controversy [that has been associated with] the word ‘slut’… but I’m comfortable calling myself a slut”, she noted proudly, along with over a thousand other people who exercised their “slut pride”.

What else is there to say, really, about a massive collective of confident, sexy, well-spoken, and nearly naked people who strive to clarify deep-seeded and screwed up ideas about sex and sexuality? Bravo, SlutWalkers, let’s hope your message is one that’s here to stay!

*   photos by Chris Zacchia

* for more SlutWalk pics, including shots of the Glam Gam Burlesque show that followed the march, please check out our Facebook page