Enjoy, laugh, disagree or simply empathize with those who lived life in THE sixties and are now rockin' life in THEIR sixties, and beyond.

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From this day forth, all male citizens will be circumcised

Imagine if Parliament passed a law that required every male in the country to be circumcised. Or, what if getting a vasectomy required the written permission of the local Catholic priest, regardless of your religion. What would the reaction be if every male in the country was forced to undergo a rectal exam before he was allowed buy condoms. As bizarre as this sounds, that’s exactly the kind of obstacles and unwarranted control over their bodies that women in the United States are now facing compliments of a reactionary, misogynistic government.

There are reasons the original fathers of the American constitution insisted on separation of church and state.  Removing funding from Planned Parenthood has eliminated access for millions of women to assistance in health-related services like breast and pap examinations, STD testing, birth control and other counseling. Students, low-income women and minorities are not the only beneficiaries of services related to women’s health and particular segments of the population are totally dependent on them.

It’s difficult for men to comprehend the challenges faced by women on many levels in everyday life. We cope with lower pay, gender discrimination and general lack of support for “women’s issues”. Many men are oblivious and it’s our responsibility to educate and inform the men in our lives about the importance of fairness and equality. I wish I’d been more vocal when I was younger. If I had, I would have made more money and had a much fatter pension plan waiting for me upon retirement. But, it’s still not too late to make our voices heard.

This won’t hurt a bit. Trust us. We know what’s best for you.

Fortunately, as a Canadian, I live in a more enlightened society. We take care of our sick through universal health care and are more progressive in recognition of women’s issues than our southern neighbours. Canadian women are able to access maternity and health care services our American sisters only dream of.  Perhaps they should start lobbying for reciprocal restrictions on males in health, economic and social issues. Many health plans reimburse men for the cost of Viagra but do not reimburse women for birth control pills. Imagine the backlash if men earned just seventy-six percent of what women made? How would they react to being told they had to get the approval of a fusty old doctor before they could father children or alternatively, choose not to father children. The threat of mutilation or something physically invasive happening to their little boy private parts might get the attention of the alpha neanderthals running the country. Only then will they truly understand what it feels like to have a third party have the final say on what happens to their body, i.e. to be a woman. Religious dogma notwithstanding, men as well as women are the beneficiaries of freedom. America’s founding fathers understood this, but unfortunately the current government can’t read.

Tracey Ullmann captures the essence of women’s struggles brilliantly.

If you haven’t seen it already, you’ll understand the imbalance when you watch this YouTube Video by British comedienne Tracey Ullmann. Click here.

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Never cry rape

abuse2Reva Seth and Lucy DeCoutere deserve a medal for their courage in coming forward with their accusations about Jian Ghomeshi. Recent evidence indicates Ghomeshi’s behaviour had been witnessed by many people over the years and for various reasons they chose to remain silent or no action was taken. The ensuing media attention has heightened awareness about the frequency of assaults on women and men and I can only hope that our politicians and law enforcement with the support of citizens in general start to do something to correct the situation.

The number of women, children and men who are abused every day is far higher than anyone imagines. In my own lifetime and within my own circle of friends and acquaintances I know only a few people who have not been sexually abused. The good guys out there find it hard to believe that it’s so rampant and the bad guys have enjoyed decades and centuries of protection by a society that trivializes the incidence and impact of the attacks. Everyone has their own particular reasons for not pursuing legal action to stop their attackers. It could be fear of reprisal, fear of not being taken seriously, lack of emotional stamina needed to see the process through, embarrassment, humiliation or sadly, reversal of blame. Most often, they want to simply put it behind them and hopefully in time the pain will go away. But it does not.

There is absolutely never justification for one human being to hurt another.

There is absolutely never any justification for one human being hurting another.

There is simply no excuse for one human being to hurt another human being under any circumstances. But every second of every day, women, children and men are emotionally and physically abused by relatives, friends, husbands, wives, protectors, acquaintances and strangers. And most victims never report it.  I was recently made aware of a poor immigrant woman who is forced by the manager of the factory where she works to provide sexual services for him every day. If not, he will fire her and she needs the money she earns as her language and job skills are limited. She is also afraid that if her traditional husband finds out, he will blame her and divorce her. She lacks knowledge of and confidence in the Canadian legal system to support her if she reports the abuse. This is not uncommon. Even those of us who were born in Canada and are familiar with the legal processes lack confidence in its ability to provide justice and ensure our protection.

It will be interesting to see how the Jian Ghomeshi story develops. One upside of the controversy is that perhaps it will remind abusers that the tolerance for their behaviours is slowly being eroded. I sincerely hope that our lawmakers and enforcers will undertake a review and implementation of new laws that do not further victimize the victims. The bad guys don’t deserve to get away with their actions and the only way that will happen is to treat the victims with the respect and care they deserve. Violence has no place in anyone’s world, least of all the vulnerable. Reva Seth and Lucy DeCoutere are just two women who said “I’m not going to take it anymore” and they should be commended for their courage. Perhaps this awareness has brought us two steps closer to action.