Hey Jian, it’s never too soon to contemplate a new career…

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You know, I really did wonder what they were going to do with that wall-size blow-up of Jian Ghomeshi that they took down from CBC headquarters a few weeks ago. I’m so glad it found a home. And in such a fitting place, too…

Dalhousie University in Halifax has launched an investigation into disturbing, sexually explicit Facebook posts attributed to male students in the faculty of dentistry, CBC News has learned.

The men were part of a Facebook group called the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen. The group was removed from Facebook late last week.

[…]

In one post, members were polled and asked, “Who would you hate f–k?” They were given two names to vote on.

Another post shows a woman wearing a bikini. The caption says, “Bang until stress is relieved or unconscious (girl).”

[…]

Their conversations also include jokes about using chloroform on women.

The words: “Does this rag smell like chloroform to you??” were superimposed on one photo.

In response to another photo of a bikini-clad woman, two members wrote: “Can you tell me what this chloroform smells like?” and “Does this mask smell like nitrous oxide to you?”

The group had at least 12 members.

Fine, upstanding “gentlemen” all, I’m sure. And yes, I’m certain that they can be trusted with nitrous oxide and other dental anesthesia, too.

There’s a Change.org petition to sign to get these bozos expelled, BTW. Please sign and share it.

Oh, and Jian? Here’s a little song you might like, as you consider your next career move…

It seems that you have quite a talent for causing pain yourself. And if Dalhousie doesn’t expel those other rapey guys, you might just have a ready-made clique to fit in with, too.

Montréal Massacre: The truth that no one wants to know

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“Je lutte contre les féministes!”

So said Marc Lépine, Gamil Rodrigue Gharbi, expressly declaring war on feminists before he opened fire. These words have often been misquoted or mistranslated as “You’re all a bunch of feminists”, “I hate feminists”. In fact, they mean “I am fighting against feminists”. This is just one of many truths that have been distorted, ignored or outright whitewashed in our memories of that horrible day.

25 years ago today. A full quarter-century. Has it really been that long? For me, the crime of the Canadian century happened only yesterday. No matter where I am, no matter what day it is, what time of year, for me it will always be December at Queen’s University, whenever I think of those names, that night. I will always feel the cold and damp of the ever-present Kingston slush leaking into my boots, will always smell the snow in the air, will always feel the strangled need to cry as I head to the vigil, to class, to my volunteer work at the Queen’s Women’s Centre. I, who can’t forget, wonder how anyone else could fail to remember.

And yet, fail they do. They fail all the time. Our politicians, our media, they fail us, the women of Canada.

A few days ago, Peter MacKay, our so-called justice minister, stuck his foot in it big-time when he said that “we may never understand” why Marc Lépine did it. In actual fact, only he himself may never know that. He, and maybe the rest of the willfully ignorant, predominantly male morons who comprise the conservative government and its voting bloc. And they may never know it because they just don’t want to know it. They are idiots, they don’t belong in power, and they must not presume to speak for the rest of us.

All other Canadians know the truth all too well. Days after it happened, letters were already pouring in to media outlets all over Canada, and especially Québec, decrying the massacre for what it was: not the random act of a lone madman, but a specifically political act of terrorism. Protests and vigils were organized on university campuses across the land. Feminist women, and a few perceptive, allied men, could already see the truth, and they weren’t having any of the media’s carefully organized, cleverly worded whitewash. None of them were fooled by the conventional “wisdom” that Canadian women had already achieved all that they wanted, that life was fine and fair now, and that feminists should just pack it all in and go home to their kitchens…so to speak.

The women on Lépine’s hit list — oh yes, he had one — know it all too well, too. They were his actual, intended targets. They were meant to become examples of “what happens to feminists when they go too far”. The fact that they did not may be due only to Lépine’s instability and ineptitude; he was apparently almost as poor a terrorist as he was a student. Instead, it was a completely unrelated group who paid the price: the women who were admitted as engineering students to the Polytechnique, taking what Lépine fancied was his rightful place in a profession which is still, to this day, heavily dominated by men.

Did any of them call themselves feminists at the time? I can’t speak for the dead, but I do know that at least some of the survivors said that no, at the time, they were not, although they believed in equality of the sexes, and believed that feminism’s work was done. They were examples of how feminism had succeeded, because they were beneficiaries of female progress and believers in equal opportunity. And yet, also, they were victims — unwitting exemplars of how much of our society’s complacency works against that same progress. They just wanted to fit in, to be accepted; they conceded to the patriarchy without realizing how at the time, or how much. They were not then feminists. But they are now, because now they see the need. Far from sending them to sleep, the shooting was a wake-up call for them. The Massacre drove home to them that there was and is a need for feminism, because women are not free yet, and neither are they treated as men’s equals.

Worse, we are losing ground; the long-gun registry was scrapped, and human-rights protections that women have fought for over decades are being eroded away by creeping conservatism, neo-traditionalism, and ultra-capitalist economics that push the underclass ever further down. If feminism has accomplished all its goals, as is so often insisted by media and “men’s rights” groups, why is there still so much misogyny — enough to kill, not only in spectacular mass form, but on a small, steady, day-to-day basis?

Maybe it’s because our supposedly liberal, enlightened society is still largely an Old Boys’ Club. And maybe because that club is jealous of its power and control, and will do all it can to preserve it; just look at how long the struggle for pay equity has been going on. Maybe because women getting legal personhood, abortion rights, the Pill, the vote, an education, and some limited right to pursue a career, isn’t enough to combat it. Maybe because the scant handful basic, partial concessions of rights we have been able to get have actually served, in the minds of sexist men, as provocations, as proof that we’ve “gone too far”, as “danger signs” that a matriarchy is about to replace the existing “benevolent” patriarchy, and as “evidence” of a “need” to put women back in “their place”. (Note all the quotes; they’re there for a reason.)

And yes, the Montréal Massacre was aimed at doing exactly that.

I know all this because I have a little purple book in front of me on my desk right now. It’s called, simply, The Montréal Massacre. It was compiled by Louise Malette and Marie Chalouh, and translated by Marlene Wildeman for Gynergy Books. I bought it in the early 1990s, and I have yet to finish reading it, because its intensity keeps knocking the wind out of me. It is a collection of letters, essays, newspaper articles and poems, written in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, and it puts the lie to all the conventional narratives. Some of the writers are well-known Québec feminists, others ordinary people who were moved to write letters to the editor because they could not stomach all the bullshit and the lies. All are deeply, darkly critical of the mainstream narrative, of the silence it enforces.

Some note how the francophone media’s language around the victims was absurdly masculinized; the murder victims were not, as the media put it, étudiants, masculine/generic, but étudiantes, female students. Not all were engineering students; Barbara Klucznik was a nursing student. And not all of them were students, either; Maryse Laganière was an employee of the Polytechnique’s budget department. So the “student” appellation was not entirely accurate. The one and only thing the dead all had in common was that they were female. By erasing the gender of the dead, the media whitewashed the fact that the massacre was a gender-specific act of terrorism. (Even in the English-speaking media, where gender-specific noun endings are largely passé, a subtler form of erasure was the order of the day. And at least one journalist now feels guilty about her own unintentional part in the whitewash. It as, after all, quite the Old Boys’ Club in there. And, like the Massacre victims, she just wanted to fit in.)

Several of the writers also note that the media expressed curious sympathy for the killer while ignoring his blatant motives, preferring to portray him as mentally ill, an abused child of a wildly unstable father, and pitiable, rather than as a conscious political actor. Why can’t he be all of those things? they ask. For he WAS all of those things. Being mentally ill, abused and pitiful does not render a person apolitical, nor should it obscure that person’s political motives. Being political does not make one cold, mechanical, divorced from one’s own abused and abusive past, either. Such oversimplification serves the public interest poorly; feminists know that all too well. They’ve had to battle similar erroneous perceptions from the get-go.

Above all, the writers of that little book decry how quick the patriarchy was to fling its mantle over everything, to declare it “incomprehensible” and deem all protest “inappropriate”, “disrespectful”, etc. All FEMINIST protest, that is. If a man spouted blatant sexism to “protest” all the “rampant feminism” that supposedly provoked the killer, why, that was quite all right. The voices of the privileged class were welcome to have their say, over and over and over, ad nauseam. The underclass? Shut up, you bitches, the men are talking. Go home. Make sandwiches. Be thankful that we let a few of you in as tokens, and be quiet. Don’t demand more.

Even today, we’re still fighting the carefully orchestrated ignorance that fell like a shroud over that late afternoon. And it’s like trying to swim through an ever-spinning turbine to get at the truth, to be able to tell it and not be silenced.

I can still remember watching the mass funeral on TV, seeing the Catholic priests swinging their incense-burners over the caskets as they were paraded by. It was a literal smokescreen being cast before our very eyes, a metaphor made real. And oh, how nauseated I was by it all. I can remember thinking, quite clearly, how ironic and horrific and yet strangely appropriate this was; patriarchy had killed those women, and now it was burying them, too. And of course, it decreed forgetfulness, mealy mouths, empty words, lip service in lieu of honesty and action, much smoke but no fire. The victims were “innocent”, and much was made of that innocence and guiltlessness. They did not deserve to die — everyone agreed on that — but they were also not allowed to be women. They were not allowed to be acknowledged as victims of sexism, of patriarchy, of gendercide.

People still don’t want to know why those 14 women were really killed. They’re very curious to know who they were, but not so curious as to why they had to perish. They think that it’s enough to put faces and life stories to the names, and not inquire any further into the killer’s motive for destroying them. Worse, in their efforts to “put the tragedy behind us”, they’ve buried Marc Lépine’s suicide-note-cum-manifesto and hit list, so that it can’t be analyzed and criticized, and so that its contents cannot be properly understood. Who benefits from that? The Menz Rightzers. The MRAs. The “manosphere”. The patriarchy. They’ve already claimed him as their hero-martyr-saint. They have websites set up as shrines to him, and have cultivated them for years. They consider his words to be a kind of holy writ, a truth bomb in the war against feminism. They preserve his ramblings while the rest of us are unable to find the full text of those words on any site that isn’t unsavory, that isn’t dedicated to hating women and calling for their wholesale enslavement and destruction, that doesn’t repulse us and send us fleeing for our sanity’s sake.

Think we don’t need feminism anymore? Think again. This is why we need it, people:

25 years have gone by, and in those 25 years, the message to be silent, to bury the dead women “respectfully” by forgetting the meaning of their deaths, has only grown louder. But if we want to actually make progress, we have to talk about them, analyze, criticize, tear open the hypocritical crypt, and blow away the ashes, dust and smoke that surround it. We have to scrub away the whitewash from the sepulchre, and acknowledge what’s really inside. Otherwise, we’re only doing the terrorist’s work for him, and erasing women from the picture. Not only from the past, but our present and future, too.

Venezuela has free treatment for HIV/AIDS. Do you?

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Via Aporrea, some more good news you won’t hear from your mainstream media about Venezuela and its evil, evil socialist government. For the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have contracted HIV or are ill with AIDS, the government is taking care of them all the way:

In Venezuela there is the political will to protect persons with HIV/AIDS throughout the land, said Asdrúbal González, co-ordinator of the National Human Rights Network, on VTV’s breakfast-hour program, El Desayuno.

González stated that in Venezuela, 43,000 persons with AIDS get free anti-retroviral medication and integral attention in general, thanks to the National Public Health System.

González emphasized the actions of public institutions, such as the People’s Ombud, in defence of those living with AIDS, and the Law for the Promotion and Protection of Right to Equality of Persons with HIV/AIDS and their Families, approved by the National Assembly this year.

This law condemns all forms of discrimination against this population, with an eye to assuring that they get to exercise all their rights, duties and responsibilities without any discrimination.

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a date chosen, says González, due to the first [known] case of the disease being diagnosed on this date in 1981.

[…]

González was emphatic in expressing to the public that they must leave behind fear and taboos, and seek information related to this illness, in order to avoid discrimination. He also emphasized the importance of any person at risk of contracting the virus to get the ELISA test, one of the most effective at detecting HIV.

González explained that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through vaginal or anal sex, contaminated blood transfusions, contact with needles, syringes or other sharp objects, as well as from mother to fetus during pregnancy or childbirth.

He added that in the Hugo Chávez Frías Maternity and Children’s Hospital, located in the Caracas district of El Valle, the National Human Rights Network has its head office, where they are holding days of information, prevention and awareness about the disease.

“Our message is: Protect yourself, always use condoms, HIV does not discriminate, and we call upon you to become more aware every day of the persons who live with this condition,” González said.

Translation mine.

It’s important to note that AIDS has in fact been around much longer than initially thought. The first cases of a mysterious wasting illness, then known as “cachexie de Mayombe” in French, were seen in the Congo region of western-central Africa during the 1930s. Since the disease, as doctors now know, has a long lag time, of as many as 10 or 15 years between initial infection and outbreak of full-blown AIDS, it is suspected that the disease first spread from chimps to humans around 1915, when the Trans-Congo Railroad was being built through the region. The importation of rifles, which coincided with the building of the railway, made hunting of simians for bushmeat easier, and it is likely that a hunter butchering a chimp got SIV-contaminated blood in a cut, becoming the first human casualty of what until then was only a mildly infectious monkey virus. Since prostitution accompanied the railroad work camps, the virus was soon spread to women, who in turn passed it along heterosexually to other men. Poor sanitation in hospitals and clinics, and the common practice of recycling used needles, also contributed to the spread of the virus. The dark, purplish skin lesions of Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer previously afflicting only elderly men, eventually became a common sight in the Congo region among younger adults.

The first European cases of the disease occurred as early as the 1950s, when sailors coming ashore in western Africa visited local brothels. At least one man is known to have passed the disease along to his wife, who then passed the virus along to their daughter during pregnancy. All died of a mysterious wasting illness whose symptoms match those of AIDS. The girl was just nine years old.

In 1976, a Danish doctor doing charity work in what was then called Zaire became the first known European non-sexually-transmitted casualty of the disease herself. Due to poor conditions in local hospitals, she was forced to operate without gloves. A needle-stick or a small scalpel nick was all it took for a patient’s infected blood to transmit the virus directly to her. Ironically, considering how AIDS later became known as the “gay plague”, the doctor was herself a lesbian — but her life partner, a nurse who stayed in Denmark, remained uninfected. It may now be regarded as a classic example of how this African disease favors blood-to-blood contact.

Also ironically, the real “Patient Zero” of the North American AIDS epidemic was not that infamous bathhouse-cruising gay flight attendant, as was commonly reported, but more likely a prostituted heterosexual woman in San Francisco, who was also addicted to heroin. Needle-sharing was extremely common in those days, the late 1960s to mid-1970s; it was typical to see junkies with various strains of viral hepatitis, which they had caught the same way. It seems likely that the AIDS virus initially spread much like Hepatitis B and C in North America among city-dwelling junkies, who, if prostituted, later passed it along to johns, who in turn spread it to others, much as in the railroad camps of the Congo. Since junkies can be of any sexual orientation, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that a gay junkie may have carried the virus, initially contracted through needle-sharing, to his own community, where it later spread via the sexual-transmission route. Unfortunately, that man’s name may never be known; junkies tended to die very unregarded deaths, and still do.

And while it’s no longer talked about very much, Haiti was another early western centre of AIDS transmission. The explanation? After Belgium gave up its colonial claim on the Congo, and Belgian colonial officials left the land, their empty offices had to be filled by French-speaking blacks as a condition of decolonization. Enter the Haitians, who were substantially more educated than the locals, and more capable of filling those public service offices. They, too, undoubtedly had liaisons with locals infected with the virus, and wound up carrying it back home to Haiti, or across the water to Florida and New York. Haitian immigrants were an early “risk group” that is no longer being singled out, as the broader North American epidemic has eclipsed that of tiny Haiti.

AIDS does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are gay or straight, use drugs or don’t, are black or white, or anything else. AIDS is not a “gay plague”, but a disease with African roots dating back to the colonial era. Its global transmission demands global action, and Venezuela is stepping up to the challenge by making it a true public health issue, and providing free medication, with no discrimination between those who can afford to pay and those who cannot.

We could all learn from Venezuela’s good example.

Ladies! Do you still need feminism?

Some mornings it’s just not worth gnawing your way out of the restraints, is it? I mean, with shit like this popping up in my Facebook feed, it’s enough to put me permanently OFF my feed:

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Congratulations, ladies! Your fight’s over! You won! You don’t live in Saudi Arabia! (Sorry, Saudi ladies, you’re screwed. The dude who wrote this drivel isn’t about to lift a finger to help you.)

Of course, this meme is bullshit because we still DO need feminism. Because in NO country in this world is it entirely possible for women to do the following:

Fully and freely decide when, if and how we will bear children. Men, particularly lawmakers, are still interfering with our right to reproductive self-determination. They are restricting our access to good health care, especially abortion (but not limited to that, by any means). Worse, a “Quiverfull” mentality is taking over in North America, and women are being denied the right to use birth control…because “God says so”, apparently. “Freedom of religion” is becoming a Damoclean sword held over our reproductive organs.

Walk down the street unharassed, every day, no matter what we’re wearing. Even women who are fully covered, in burqas, face harassment. And they face it from the same “enlightened” white men who wrote the above drivel. In fact, those men are the ones most likely to try to strip away these women’s efforts at privacy. As for women who don’t cover up…well, they get treated like they asked for harassment. Nobody asks for that; we just get it every day, for nothing…because we are women and girls.

Grow up and attend school unmolested. Same deal as above, but with an added dollop of interfering with our educations and stunting our career prospects from an extremely early age.

Work at any job we like, with equal rights, equal respect, and equal pay. Women are still getting harassed out of male-dominated fields. And underpaid, too. What a pity we can’t grow penises on command to prevent that!

Work at any job we like, without being sexually harassed on the job. Yes, even here in Canada, this shit STILL happens, and I can’t believe we still have to protest it. Jian Ghomeshi is hardly an exception. He’s the boss from hell that many women in many different fields have had, still have, and probably always will…until someone decides to do something about it.

Be in a relationship without violence. And by violence, I mean the kind inflicted by males upon females. The kind that enforces male supremacy and patriarchy.

Be free from sexual abuse at home. Girl children are more likely to be sexually abused growing up. And not by some stranger in the bushes, either. The culprit is typically a male relative, and he typically gets away with it, because women and girls are still being regarded as property, and his to do with as he will.

Go on dates without having to fear that our dates will sexually assault us. When we have to watch our drinks (or stir them with a finger to see if our nail polish changes color), that’s a sign of severe inequality right there. When’s the last time you heard of a woman drugging a man that way, in order to have her way with him? Not often? Not ever? Funny, because that happens to us all the time. College women even have to avoid frat parties, because this is likely to happen to them there.

Be able to report a physical or sexual assault or an incident of harassment without getting blamed for it. It’s always “what were you doing, what were you drinking, what were you wearing?” Such questions put the onus on the victim and let the perpetrator off the hook.

Be able to report a physical or sexual assault or an incident of harassment and be immediately, completely taken seriously. And believed. And not taken further advantage of it by leering sexist pigs who think we’re “fair game” because we’ve already been through it.

Be able to report a physical or sexual assault or in incident of harassment…and actually see justice done. Because even if we report, are not blamed, are taken seriously and believed, the conviction rate for such crimes is shockingly low. Like, lower single digits low. This is inexcusable and happens with no other type of crime.

Enjoy representation in democratic government that is equal to our percentage of the population. We are 51% of humanity everywhere, but we do not have 51% of the seats in government. Not even in Iceland and Sweden is this the case, and they’re way ahead of everyone when it comes to gender equality!

Yeah, I’m sure we don’t need feminism anymore. Especially since we no longer have to deal with attitudes like this:

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I mean, I thought this question was settled with a resounding YES here in Canada, way back in 1929. Before that, mirabile dictu, we were still not persons here, at least in the eyes of the law.

But apparently, some guys somewhere are STILL asking this inane question, even now, when it should be obvious that if women were not human, men wouldn’t be able to interbreed with them. If the answer to the question were No, then we wouldn’t be producing children; we’d be producing mules. If we were producing anything at all, that is.

As for the rest of that meme, it’s just as bad and worse. It is designed to minimize the many and crucial roles women have played throughout the history of civilization. We have always worked outside the home, often much harder than any man. We have produced important things on our own, without the help of any man. Skyscrapers and satellites? Well, gee, maybe women WOULD have produced those, too, if they hadn’t been harassed and hounded out of traditionally male careers like science and architecture! Why are male achievements privileged so much above those of women…especially things women have been doing since humanity stopped living in trees and grunting? If women aren’t human, then neither are men…and the dude who horked up this hairball clearly hasn’t evolved beyond the australopithecine stage.

As for giving birth being our main contribution to society: Well, so what? It was the only one explicitly and consistently ALLOWED us. Where did you come from, O dude who made this — fully formed from the head of Zeus? Nope. You came out of a woman’s belly after up to nine months’ gestation, probably by way of her nasty-wasty cootie-ridden vagina. Same as every other sooooper-fucking-genius male. Half your DNA comes from your mother. So does the X chromosome in every one of your cells. Even though you hate and despise her, hold her in utter contempt, and are keen to minimize the role she and every other woman plays in your life, the fact is, you can’t live without her. And this is how you repay her? You fucking parasite. You should be bowing down in gratitude that she didn’t abort you. Or leave you to die of exposure on a hillside.

And if we are so “pampered and privileged”, why are we deemed “near-worthless” and fit only to be denied all our inalienable human rights? Does this asswipe seriously believe that women are better off in chains, and that humanity would be better off that way too? Because the picture, which was blacked out by the anti-MRA Facebook group that posted this, showed the women naked and in chains. Hell, even in Saudi Arabia, women are treated better than that!

It’s very telling, isn’t it, that some men can only assert their “rights”…by denying us all of ours. And this in the supposedly “free” countries where we allegedly have so many…and yet, not nearly enough. Because no one — NO ONE — is suggesting that men be treated the way we have been for centuries, much less stripped of all THEIR rights.

Yes, we still need feminism. And as long as memes like these exist, along with the assholes who made them, we will continue to need it badly.

Why Jian Ghomeshi could get a life sentence (and Julien Blanc should STILL be banned)

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Poor Captain Kirk. He just doesn’t get it.

Oh dear. This really hasn’t been a great week for the PUA types, has it? Julien Blanc has been banned from Singapore, now, and has also cancelled his dates in Norway. It’s not looking good for him in Ireland, either.

And here in Canada, he hasn’t been banned, yet…but he still should be. Why?

Well, because we crazy Canucks have a legal provision against one of the key elements of his “pickup” technique…namely, choking:

Section 246(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada indicates it is an indictable offence to attempt “to choke, suffocate or strangle another person” in a bid “to render another person insensible, unconscious or incapable of resistance” for the purpose of committing an indictable offence.

Yes, that’s right…choking a woman in an effort to get sex out of her (or anything else, for that matter) is illegal here.

This is the same charge that could get Jian Ghomeshi a life sentence, if he’s convicted of it. Choking, suffocation and strangulation all fall under attempted murder. It doesn’t matter if the “context” of the assault is “kinky” or “just a joke” (note the quotes, there for a reason). The act of trying to cut off someone’s air supply is deemed to be violence regardless of “context”.

And while we’re on the subject of context (note the absence of quote here, also for a reason), these are the contexts in which this charge can be laid, as pertains to the Ghomeshi case:

Russell Silverstein, a criminal defence lawyer from Toronto, said the charge can be laid in relation to any number of criminal offences.

“The allegation here, no doubt, is that Mr. Ghomeshi choked his victims with a view to perpetrating the sexual assaults against them,” he told CBC News Network on Wednesday.

“One can be guilty of choking to commit any criminal offence, but in this case, I expect it’s in relation to the sexual assault charges that he faces that are the other four counts.”

Graham T. Clark, a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer, said the count has been part of the code since 1972.

“It is an additional offence within an offence,” Clark said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

It is also a count that the Crown must proceed with as an indictable offence because it doesn’t have the option to treat it less seriously.

Being an indictable offence, Clark said, means Ghomeshi will have the choice of having a preliminary inquiry ahead of a potential trial, or head directly to trial.

If a preliminary inquiry takes place, Clark said, alleged victims would have to testify twice should a trial go ahead, as they would be testifying at the inquiry as well.

According to the Criminal Code, a finding of guilt carries a potential penalty of “imprisonment for life.”

So, as you can see, choking someone to overcome their resistance, to sexual coercion or any other kind, is treated under Canadian law as seriously as an attempt to murder somebody. Because life sentences are also handed down for murder and attempt-murder. Why? Because people have been murdered, or almost murdered, by choking. (Well, duh.)

Which brings me back to Julien Blanc, and why he should be banned, not only here, but everywhere.

As I said earlier (here and here), nobody should want or tolerate a violent criminal, or one who advises others to become violent criminals, on their soil. This isn’t a matter of freedom of speech anymore. Canadian free-speech provisions make no allowances for anyone who counsels others to commit crimes. Counselling others to overcome resistance via choking is a crime, even if, as some insist, “no harm is intended”, or “it’s only a joke”.

And yes, that includes Julien Blanc, since his pickup technique quite explicitly consists of what our law calls “overcome resistance — choking”. (Ironically, his violence-promoting company has moved its “seminars” onlinefor fear of violence toward its skeevy instructors!)

In fact, the bulk of pickup artistry, even the less overtly violent stuff, is still coercive, in that it is aimed specifically at overcoming women’s resistance to having sex with a guy they don’t expressly want. PUA “coaches” teach all kinds of weaselly ways at getting around resistance, which some of them call ASD (“Anti-Slut Defence”, meaning a woman’s efforts to seem “pure” and “respectable”, even when she supposedly wants sex more than anything), or LMR (“Last Minute Resistance”, which everyone else would realize is not just resistance but really NOT FUCKING FEELING IT, BUCKO). They have a whole grotesque lexicon dedicated to just such BS, in case you wondered. They blatantly advertise their “expertise” at “turning a No into a Yes”, and teach their charges that “No means Yes”, too. And that they should just keep going until they don’t hear “No” anymore. And then move in for the kill — er, “close”.

This is, I should add, also illegal in Canada.

Much of the public conversation in both cases has been around the idea of ‘‘explicit consent,’’ suggesting someone who is unwilling has to make it crystal clear. But the law is decisive — and even places the burden of proof on the accused.

“There’s a big gap between social understanding and the legal standards,” said Lise Gotell, a professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Alberta who studies sexual assault law. “This [big gap] is an unusual situation in which the law has pushed ahead of commonly accepted behaviours and norms.”

The “commonly accepted behaviors and norms” to which Professor Gotell is referring include the common PUA notion that “No Means Yes”, or “Turn Her No Into a Yes”. And also, the idea that not saying No (or not saying No anymore after several disregarded repetitions) is, in effect, saying Yes.

“The idea of explicit consent is dangerous because it plays on and is contrasted with the idea of ‘implicit consent’ or ‘implied consent,’ and there is no such thing in law,” Prof. [Melanie] Randall told the National Post. “The idea there is such a thing as implied consent has been thoroughly repudiated in Canadian law.”

That repudiation came in the form of R. vs. Ewanchuk, a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada case concerning the defence of consent to a charge of sexual assault. In that case, the victim had repeatedly said “no” to Steve Ewanchuk’s advances, but he argued that no further verbalization of “no” as things progressed meant consent was implied. The Supreme Court held that there was no defence.

This came seven years after the sexual assault reforms of 1992, which, at their core, introduced the standard that “reasonable steps” were taken to ensure the prospective sex partner really wanted to engage in sexual activity. Silence and lack of resistance do not equal consent.

“Now it is more common for defendants than it used to be to assert a mistaken belief defence and these defences [often] tend to be based upon miscommunication,” said Prof. Gotell.

It may be more common to assert that now, but it’s still wrong, and ought to be inadmissible in court, along with any questions pertaining to a complainant’s sexual history. No “No” does not mean Yes; no more “No” does not mean Yes, either. And to assume you got a Yes just because you didn’t hear No, and to claim as much in court, ought to get one nothing but ridicule from the judge and jury, and ought to get one’s slimeball shyster of a defence attorney disbarred if they even once try that gambit in court.

It’s not, as is commonly asserted, a case of “He said, she said”; in fact, it’s far more often a case of “He did, and she said nothing”. Because we don’t understand that our law, in fact, requires affirmative consent, and there is no “implicit consent” provision under Canadian law.

Little wonder that so few sexual assaults in Canada are even reported, never mind prosecuted.

Maybe more of them would be, if we were all informed of our legal rights and obligations surrounding consent from an early age. Preferably middle school, with refresher courses at the high school and post-secondary levels. These should be mandatory, so that no one can claim ignorance of the law. After all, ignorance is not a legal defence. As soon as kids are old enough to start learning and thinking about sex, they should also be considered old enough to know exactly what the laws of our land say about it, and to discuss those laws in class.

That way, we might not have so much of this inane and damaging Menz Rightzer pushback every time there’s a “No Means No” or “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign. We might even have fewer sexual assaults down the road, and a much greater success rate with laying and prosecuting charges, too. Who wouldn’t like to see far fewer guys like Jian Ghomeshi getting away with sexual assault and physical abuse for fucking years before anyone even thinks to say boo?

And fewer PUA douchebags on our soil would be a welcome bonus, as well.

Jian Ghomeshi: BUSTED!

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Looks like you-know-who can wipe that leer off his face for good. Jian Ghomeshi has just been arrested and charged:

Mr. Ghomeshi, 47, has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of “overcome resistance – choking,” Toronto police said in a news release.

According to the Criminal Code, anyone found guilty of attempting to choke someone to overcome their resistance to the commission of an indictable offence faces a maximum punishment of life in prison. Sexual assault carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Mr. Ghomeshi was charged on Wednesday morning after surrendering to police. He is scheduled to appear in court at 2 p.m. at the city’s College Park courthouse, police said.

His lawyer, Marie Henein, did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages.

Pretty safe to say, at this point, that his radio career is toast.

Big Ears Teddy would be “proud”.

White Ribbon Day Links Roundup

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Today is White Ribbon Day, when it’s the menfolks’ turn to demonstrate all over the world against domestic violence and pledge to be better people. To that end, I have the following links for you to peruse and enjoy:

First up, at We Hunted the Mammoth, something to make your blood boil. Paul Fucking Elam, who is most certainly NOT against men beating up women, is now accusing the Australian White Ribbon Campaign of fraud. Considering that his own Menz Rightzer fake White Ribbon site is an actual fraud, this either the world’s sickest joke, or else Paulie is a masochist, just begging to be dragged into a court of law. Stay tuned, this one’s gonna get ugly.

Next, the Toronto Star has a couple of hopeful notes for us: Jian Ghomeshi has dropped his chutzpah-laden $55 million suit against his former employer, CBC. He’s now on the hook for at least $18,000 in legal expenses. No word on when and how he plans to “directly address” the accusations of all the women who say he abused them. Meanwhile, another famous female-abuser, Bill Cosby, remains silent as ever, but his biographer has stepped up to apologize for not addressing the assault allegations against the former voice of Fat Albert. No word on whether any revisions are planned. (The book might sell markedly better if it included them, IMO.)

Also at the Star, something less hopeful: One of the NDP MPs who was sexually assaulted by a Liberal counterpart has come out with more details of the incident, involving Massimo Pacetti. She describes it as “sex without explicit consent”. Uh, that would be rape, would it not? Meanwhile, the other Liberal MP accused of sexual assault, Scott Andrews, allegedly groped his victim’s crotch and verbally harassed her. More still to come? Bet on it.

Back to the Ghomeshi case, and the Financial Post has some interesting predictions of what is likely to happen now that the wrongful-dismissal suit (which Ghomeshi wasn’t even legally entitled to file, as a unionized media personage) has been dropped.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, a member of their parliament has come out in favor of barring Julien Blanc entry so he can’t teach Irishmen the not-so-fine “art” of grabbing women by the throat and mashing their faces into one’s crotch. Billy Kelleher, the health spokesman for his party, has called Blanc “sick and abusive” and hints strongly at following the British example and denying Blanc a work visa.

And finally, back to Australia, where Victoria’s police commissioner, Ken Lay, has told it like it is, calling Julien Blanc “sexually insecure” and drawing parallels between him and the domestic abusers that his own police officers have seen all too many of already. Looks like Australia did right in drop-kicking his ass out of country, eh?

Icelandic funnyman wants to mack on Julien Blanc. Dafuq?

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Squeal like a pig!

While Ireland is working hard to make sure Julien Blanc doesn’t get so much as a look-in on their green and rugged turf, a very different situation seems to be brewing in a country just one letter different. In Iceland, comedian Hugleikur Dagsson, of Reykjavík, has other ideas. Instead of keeping him out, argues “Hulli”, why not chase him out…the same way he chases women?

I do not think we should prevent him from coming here. Barring people from coming here is stupid. Why make a martyr out of him? Scumbags like him are always the first ones to celebrate censorship and deportation. Because fuckwits like him like to pretend they are the true champions of freedom of speech, and use that rhetoric ad nauseam to justify the diarrhoea that flows from their throats so freely. If we deny him entry, he’ll brag about it on Twitter and probably get loads of retweets from a sad army of braindead, semen-reeking, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing humanoids. He’ll be a hero among skunks and shitheels, and this is what he wants. Let’s not do him that favour.

[…]

I’m now speaking to the men of Iceland: It’s time we use our privilege for good. Chauvinists like this creature are almost without exception homophobic. They fear nothing more than someone treating them like they treat women.

I say we hit on Julien Blanc. Every single one of us.

If we see him in the street, we’ll give him a wink. Whistle at him. If we meet him at a bar, let’s pinch his ass. Blow him a kiss. I urge every male reporter to stroke his thighs while interviewing him. I urge every large man to tell him what a purdy mouth he has. I urge every male bartender to whisper in his ear how much they want to be inside of him.

I think this will be the funniest thing ever. Let’s not help him feel like a hero. Let’s make him feel like the one thing he most despises. Let’s make him feel like a chick.

I have to admit, I kinda-sorta hope somebody does that and catches it on video, and posts it to YouTube for the world to see. It’s not like he doesn’t have it coming. Julien Blanc’s biggest humiliation would be good for a laugh and a half. And it would be nice to think that he might learn a bit of empathy by seeing what it feels like to have his own throat grabbed on the streets of cute little Reykjavík without warning, or his own puny head forced into some strapping, red-bearded Viking descendant’s big, sweaty ol’ crotch.

But at the same time, assault is still assault, and even if it’s funny to the rest of us just to imagine it, the eyes of the law might see it very differently. I don’t know what the legal situation is in Iceland regarding assault, but an international incident is really not the best way to squelch him.

Worse, it probably won’t teach Julien Fucking Blanc a thing. He’s beyond help. He will NEVER learn to respect women, not even if he’s placed in the same position as one by a dude brawny enough to fold him up and tuck him in the ticket pocket of his lumberjack jeans. He will always hate them, and that will guarantee his endless, epic failure with them, no matter what he does, and no matter how much he charges to tell men differently. World without end, amen.

Happily, nobody but RSD’s little ass-barnacles (and the occasional contrarian media idiot) is seeing him as a “martyr”. Most people, once they know what bag Julien Blanc comes out of, have no problem with barring their nation’s doors to him. Because who wants a violent criminal, who also promotes violent crime for big bucks, on their soil?

And besides, he’s a colossal wimp. Canada didn’t even have to formally bar him; the mere existence of a couple of popular petitions against him, plus a smattering of unfavorable news reports, was enough to make all RSD’s odious stable of pickup coaches cancel their dates here. Not to mention that his tweeter’s still on lockdown, and likely to remain so for the duration. I’d say that the simple, nonviolent use of our own free speech to expose this nest of cockroaches* to light was sufficient to send them scuttling.

And we didn’t even have to ask any big, strong machos to sacrifice their heterosexuality for it, either.

*Apologies to actual cockroaches for the odious comparison. And thanks to Hulli for the mental imagery!

Sexual assault in Canada: some statistics and grim facts

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That works out to just 1,380 convictions per year, with 458,620 assailants walking. Shocking, innit?

And for how that fits into the experiences of women in the criminal justice system as a whole, here’s StatsCan’s most recent data.

Dear Emma Teitel and Maclean’s: Don’t tell me how to feminist, and I won’t tell you how to journalist.

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You tell ‘em, kitty.

Every so often, I get to wondering why I haven’t picked up a copy of Maclean’s in years. And then I do, and I’m instantly, disgustingly reminded: Oh yeah, Barbara Amiel is still writing for them. Booooooring. And so are her little clones. Like, for instance, one Emma Teitel, who thinks it’s time we big bad meanie feminists stopped picking on pickup artists, just because she felt sorry for some poor little pizza-faced kid who once accosted her at the Eaton Centre:

About a year ago I was walking through the Eaton Centre mall in downtown Toronto when a teenage boy approached me and asked me very meekly if he could have a few minutes of my time. I said sure, assuming that he was working for a charity and hadn’t had much luck attracting donors during rush hour in the dead of winter. (I did a similar, soul-crushing job in college.) I waited for his pitch about poverty, child soldiers or land mines, but it never came. Instead, he told me how “cool” my glasses were and asked me if I had a boyfriend. It became instantly clear that he didn’t want a donation; he wanted a date. I told him I was a lesbian in a hurry (my go-to exit strategy with street preachers) and I was soon on my way—confused about why a teenage boy would so boldly pursue a four-eyed woman in a ski jacket 10 years his senior, but flattered nonetheless.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized my age and attire were irrelevant to the equation, because my adolescent suitor didn’t have eyes for me; he had eyes for literally any woman with a pulse. According to multiple news outlets, Toronto’s biggest downtown shopping mall had recently become ground zero for so-called pickup artists (PUAs as they are known online), a loosely connected international community of guys who share seduction tips with each other on the Internet and take to the streets to “woo” as many unsuspecting women as humanly possible. Their techniques range from corny (showering women with compliments) to cruel: “Negging,” a PUA technique popularized by American pickup artist and journalist Neil Strauss in his 2005 book, The Game, consists of showering women with low-grade insults. According to Urban Dictionary, “negs” are “meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” (An example, used frequently by my own grandmother: “Wow, you have beautiful eyes. It’s a shame I can barely see them behind your bangs.”)

The Eaton Centre, obviously displeased with the fact that some of its female shoppers were being subjected to this bizarre breed of socially awkward male interference, issued a statement on Twitter alerting customers about the PUA presence on its premises. “Rest assured security is briefed and your health and safety are our top priority,” mall staff tweeted before Christmas last year.

The pickup artist who tried and failed to woo me on account of my cool glasses was, as far as I could tell, a threat to nobody’s health and safety. In fact, I felt a little sorry for the guy. Spending one’s free time trying to engage strangers romantically in a shopping mall doesn’t merely reveal an absence of social grace, but quite possibly, an absence of friends.

Gawd, it sure is windy out there in beautiful downtown Toronto today, eh? But wait, here comes something that looks like a nut graf…finally:

But it is no longer socially acceptable to pity the PUAs, because they are apparently—in these socially divisive, Ghomeshi-saturated times—a viable threat to the feminist cause. That cause has been active against the PUA culture, and has borne fruit. For example, Julien Blanc, the 25-year-old pickup artist of the PUA organization Real Social Dynamics—and author of such promotional gems as: “Develop panty-dropping masculinity with this rock-solid structure to self-generate the powerful emotions girls crave”—was banned from Australia this month on the grounds that his dating seminars (for which he charges more than $1,000) incite violence against women. Several petitions asking the Canadian government to bar Blanc from entering Canada are in the works here too; the outcry against him has been so strong on Twitter that Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander issued a statement on the social media platform last week condemning the pickup artist’s teachings, and ensuring the public that his office is “looking at all options and will consider using every tool at our disposal to protect the rule of law on Canadian soil.”

Er. What’s with the “apparently” there, Emma? And what’s with all the sneery commentaries on “these times”? This isn’t some new thing. This is the same old shit that has always been with us. Why are you undermining efforts to stop it?

If a guy walks down the street randomly grabbing women by the throat and shoving their faces into his smelly crotch, do you not see that he’s committing blatant, overt violence against women? Because that is what we feminists oppose, among other manifestations of sexism and the patriarchy.

And if a guy makes it his mission to preach this same violence like it’s some kind of gospel, and make big money at it like Jimmy Fucking Swaggart, do you not see a problem there, one worthy of feminist efforts to expose and eradicate?

Nope, apparently she doesn’t:

Blanc, by comparison, is a sophomoric ass so blatantly trolling the feminist community with idiotic rape jokes and a following that is insignificant in comparison to the number of people speaking out against him. He has 8,200 Twitter followers; the petition to have him barred from entering the U.K. just reached 150,000. In other words, he isn’t Hitler. He’s Stifler. Which makes the current media blitz he’s enjoying all the more annoying. The most ironic thing about Blanc’s notorious hashtag is that the vast majority of people who appear to be using it are feminists. (I searched the hashtag and scrolled down the results for roughly 25 minutes trying to find one tweet that championed the sentiment rather than derided it. I failed.) Were it not for the scores of women using it in their posts to denounce Blanc, it would likely cease to exist.

Huh. I see she bought his “only joking” defence. Poor dear, she doesn’t realize it, but she’s the one being trolled.

Emma, I’m with your grandma. You really do need to pin back your bangs. An unobstructed view of reality is so much better than looking cute but being unable to see past your own cutesiness. When even the stuffy old Torygraph says nobody’s buying that “apology”, doesn’t that tell you anything? Here, let me brush that wool out of your eyes:

Before he locked down his Twitter account (probably because he realized, belatedly, that no one was actually finding his rape “jokes” funny), Julien Blanc was promoting the Duluth Power and Control Wheel as a “checklist” on how to “Make Her Stay With You”.

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Does this sound “funny” to you, Emma? Because it’s actually a teaching tool which feminists helped to develop, and which is used by counsellors of abused persons to help them recognize common strategies of control used by abusers. And there is nothing “sophomoric” about that. On the contrary, it speaks to just how controlling, abusive and downright cynical Julien Blanc really is.

But hey! Let’s throw a few bones to the feminists before we throw them to the dogs, eh Emma?

It appears that out of a laudable and deeply felt outrage at a potential injury to women, some in the feminist movement have amplified exactly the misogynistic messages they’d like to snuff out. They’ve effectively become Julien Blanc’s spokeswomen, his PR firm. Kirsty Mac, a feminist and stand-up comic whose activism was instrumental in the decision to ban Blanc from Australia, disagrees with this idea wholeheartedly. “Australia said no to violence against women and the world followed,” Mac wrote to me in an email. “Social media might very well be the beginning of the end of the misogyny in pop culture.”

Drawing attention to a problem in an effort to eradicate it is not the same thing as promoting it, Emma. And knock off that divide-and-conquer shit about “some in the feminist movement”. This is something we can all get behind, and should. As the AIDS activists used to say, Silence = Death. You might want to remember that before you start prattling about nuance.

Oops, too late. She’s prattling about nuance, now…

It is certainly the beginning of the end of nuance. Feminist causes have exploded on Twitter in the last year, from #YesAllWomen (the viral hashtag that emerged in the wake of misogynist murderer Elliot Rodger’s violent rampage in May) to #BeenRaped­NeverReported, the infinitely powerful and informative viral hashtag that emerged in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi in October. The social media movement against “street harassment” (a.k.a. cat calling) is just as lively. So too, whether we like or not, is the backlash against the Rosetta mission scientist Matt Taylor who wore a tasteless shirt on TV during the live broadcast of the comet landing, emblazoned with hundreds of miniature pictures of semi-nude ladies; a problematic message, many argued, in an industry that employs so few women.

These conversations are overdue. Yet the downside to their playing out on social media is the lightning speed at which online feminism has amalgamated sexist offenses of wildly varying severity—pickup artistry, cat-calling, date rape—into one melting pot of equivalency. The result is that the difference between what’s idiotic, what’s lecherous, and what’s criminal is lost.

This is the hapless kind of false equivalency that has infected so many worthy social movements and reduced their stature, with moral persuasion replaced by ideological bullying. The greatest heresy is for anyone, male or female, to suggest that there might be another side to the story—like, for instance, Brandon Thomas, an 18-year-old self-styled pickup artist who lives in Tulsa, Okla., who told me he was virtually friendless before he got involved with the PUA community two years ago. “I had no idea how awkward I was . . . Parents and friends tell you what you want to hear,” he said. “A dating coach tells you what you need to hear.” (He claims that every PUA technique he uses is imbued with respect for women.)

Not all pickup artists are equal; and very few of them are the spawn of the devil. (Most, I suspect, are merely virgins.)

Yes, Emma, and I was a virgin too, once upon a long time ago. But it never turned me into a serial harasser of strangers in shopping malls.

In fact, I was still technically one on the night this one very slick operator, who I thought was my friend, first “rescued” me from his, er, over-enthusiastic roomie, then took me out of their basement apartment, and later, after a few beers, brought me back to my place, ostensibly safe and sound. On my parents’ own living-room floor he made out with me for a couple of minutes. That was fine; he was a buff, good-looking guy, and I kind of fancied him. But then, without warning, he undid his pants, clambered up over me until he was straddling my neck, and popped his half-masted cock into my mouth.

I was so confused that I didn’t know what to do, other than docilely lie there and let him, so as not to risk offending him and maybe getting myself hurt. (Nice Girl Training, goddamn.)

Perhaps he sensed that there was something ironic and not quite kosher about what he was doing, because after a few half-hearted ins and outs, he stopped, put himself away, and zipped up. He left shortly thereafter. I locked the door behind him.

Then I silently slunk upstairs to bed, bewildered and still a little tipsy, and feeling — not violated or traumatized exactly, but still somehow betrayed. Because he had just a few hours ago saved me from getting raped, and I honestly expected him to know better than to do it himself. He could have asked, and I might have said yes.

But he didn’t. And I didn’t. He never gave me that chance.

I never reported this as a sexual assault, because what would have been the use? I can’t say I was injured, because I wasn’t. My technicalities were still intact, and he hadn’t used any overt force. (Overt is the operative word here. And maybe it’s kind of a moot question when someone’s in a position to crush your windpipe merely by sitting his ass down.) Worse, I knew how it would look if I told the cops, my parents, and maybe even a judge and jury everything that happened: “Well, first we made out on the floor…” Who would believe me if I told them that I did not want him to do that, I did not ask him to do that, and I most certainly did not give him permission to do that?

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Not saying “no” does not equal “yes”. But pickup artists don’t teach you that, they teach you the opposite. “Make the ho say no” is just one of their many rapey mottoes. In fact, there is even such a thing in pickup artistry as “rape game”, and yes, that is exactly what you think it is. (Google it. And be sure to take your ulcer meds first.) The entire thing, in fact, is nothing BUT rape, because honesty is not a pickup artist’s strong suit, and especially not when you’re trying to up your notch count by any means possible.

Yes, Emma, nuance is a very important thing. And nowhere more so than in your black-and-white world of “rape rape” versus mere “pickup artistry”, eh?

It is profoundly important for both its relevancy and survival that feminism retain the ability to distinguish between the handsy jerk who pushes his luck on the dance floor, and a man who allegedly assaults women in the presence of a stuffed bear.

And then, to judge them accordingly.

Uh, Emma? In case you forget, Jian Ghomeshi did both. He was, by all accounts, both a pickup artist AND a violator of the law. There is no rule saying you can’t be both. In fact, there is no rule that you can’t smoothly segue from the one to the other. Feminists have long understood that. It’s time you did the same.

And Maclean’s? Yeah, you suck too for publishing this rag-load of hog snot. But I won’t be holding my breath for you to improve. You’ve been full of crap-ass suckitude for the longest time. Nearly ten years ago, as I recall, you published a fluffy, uncritical feature on PUAs, portraying them merely as a titillating, mildly goofy bunch of totally awesome he-men. That article nauseated me then, and still does now. Seems you haven’t yet twigged to the fact that they are, in reality, all scungy-ass woman-haters. Particularly one of your profilees, the PUA who called himself Gunwitch — who turns out to be not only a would-be “ladykiller”, but a bona fide aspiring lady-killer, too.

PUA coaches are worse than the slimiest snake oil salesman. They are not a source of hope for the socially awkward; quite the opposite, actually. Their methods don’t work, except to lure unwary males. And among those poor saps there is many a ticking time bomb. Who can forget the “sexual frustration” of that poor ignored virgin, Elliot Rodger? When he failed to pick up anyone, he churned out a misogynous “manifesto”, then went on a murderous, suicidal rampage.

No, PUAs are not funny. Nor are they harmless. And they are most certainly not a separate entity from violent, even murderous abusers. On the contrary, they are all on the same continuum. It is a question of degree, not kind.

And since Maclean’s has abdicated its social responsibility to make that connection, I guess it’s little wonder that I haven’t read them in years…and don’t feel like I’ve missed out in the least. They’ve sold out information in favor of titillation, and thrown women under the bus. None of them has any business telling Canadian women how to do feminism, because none of them know how the hell to do journalism.