There’s gotta be a Toxic Schick joke somewhere in here

Hi friends. I did a lot of arguing on Facebook today. Because I’m perennially lazy, I’m basically just gonna blatantly repost a bunch of the stuff I wrote. It’s still writing, right?

Hi friends, it’s 2019. Just a reminder that you can…

1) Have an opinion about something.
2) Learn new information.
3) Change your opinion.
You’re not stuck with your first opinion just because you had it.

1) I thought Paddington was gonna be a worthless kids movie solely made to cash in on a long deceased franchise.
2) It turns out the script is very funny and charming, and the film is a total pleasure to watch.
3) I now really like Paddington.

Then I got into a BIG discussion with two blokes about the recent Gillette ad addressing toxic masculinity. It took a while and got basically nowhere. So, no different from the rest of the internet. This was not created as a wall of text, but a number of comments that I’ve stacked together. I hope it makes some sense in this format.

Toxic Masculinity is not saying that masculinity is inherently bad, it’s saying that there are aspects about the way masculinity is commonly framed, presented and performed that aren’t helpful for anyone.
The idea that men have to be stoic and cannot show weakness leads to men holding in emotions, then letting them out in harmful ways. Whether this is anger, violence or suicide, it’s not great. It harms us men, and people of other genders often face the consequences of these emotional outbursts too.

The whole “boys will be boys” mentality often lets men off the hook for shitty behaviour, but the behaviour we excuse at a young age can lead to a lot of men thinking the same behaviour is acceptable and useful as an adult. It tells men that we’re not responsible for a lot of the shitty things we do, that it’s okay because we’re “just boys”.

I’m not sure why people have an issue with the idea of encouraging us to be more compassionate and caring about others. If you’re already not being shitty to others and exhibiting the kind of behaviour that this message opposes then congrats, it’s not about you. But just because you don’t do something, that doesn’t mean the message isn’t helpful for other men who are doing this stuff.
Does that make sense? I’m not trying to be aggressive or really point fingers here, but I do think that a lot of men are either hearing the wrong message, or intentionally professing ignorance to prevent having to challenge their own behaviour. It’s holding all of us back as a society.

Do you know how often women get approached by men? I don’t believe that it’s inherently wrong for men to approach women, but there’s gotta be some context, right? Had they made eye contact? Engaged in fun banter? Did she show signs of interest? Or did the guy see a woman he thought was attractive (who hadn’t even noticed him) and put his desires for contact above any indication that she was looking for it? Does this treat her as a human being? Or a potential walking vagina? I think it’s pretty important for us to challenge these behaviours and ask why we do them.

I think it’s very important to be able to separate the ideas of “This is not my experience” and “this isn’t real”. Nobody has ever punched me in the face, but that doesn’t mean getting punched in the face isn’t a real experience that people have had.

If you haven’t experienced the fallout of this kind of behaviour then sincerely, that’s fantastic. Would you not want to encourage the idea of other people not having to experience it too?
Also I’m pretty sure that on some level you have experienced the fallout of toxic masculinity whether or not you knew it. Have you ever felt insecure for not being assertive in a situation? Or feeling small when someone has physically threatened you? Or inadequate about the way you look if you’re not six foot with rippling abs?

The notion that we *have* to be a certain way to be sufficient can really tear us down and prevent us from being our best selves. It’s okay to not feel like an alpha all the time. It’s okay to feel weak and tender at times. Understanding these feelings lets us extend compassion to others who are going through hard times. I personally don’t see an issue with that, I don’t know about you.

A big turning point for me was when I realised that “not all men” really just means “the exception proves the rule.” If “not all men” are like this, but a lot of men are like that, and you’re not like that, then you being an exception proves that it’s a general rule. Ergo, the message isn’t about you. If you can ignore ads for cigarettes because you don’t smoke, then you can ignore messaging about shitty behaviours if you’re not exhibiting these behaviours.

Toxic Masculinity doesn’t say all men are bad, it also doesn’t say all women are perfect. It’s saying there are harmful behaviours that need to be addressed, it’s not saying there aren’t other harmful behaviours worth addressing. I feel like there’s a bunch of false equivalence going on here. If it were true that the incidence of female perpetrated sexual assault was on the rise, it’s very, very, very unlikely that there would be as many female sexual predators as male ones. It’s not that these things don’t happen or the behaviours aren’t worth condemning, but there’s an exponentially larger power dynamic that shifts the scales in a preferential manner towards men. There are exponentially more men in positions of power. There are a lot of people in positions of power who are abusing this power. Saying that a lot of men commit assault is not the same as saying that women don’t commit assault.

If 1000 people got stabbed with forks in the US in 2018, that would not be equivalent to the amount of gun deaths in the US in 2018. Overall, yes. People should not kill other people, but fork stabbings would not be an epidemic on the same scale or be as pressing to address as gun death.

I want to put it out there that I don’t give a shit about Gillette. I really don’t. They’re a shitty corporate entity like anybody else. This is not going to make me buy Gillette products, I don’t care about the brand and this hasn’t changed anything. I do believe that the message they’re spreading is important. I think we need to examine behaviours we’ve always taken for granted and challenge them, if we’re ever gonna grow. I wish this message wasn’t being bound to a corporation. At the same time, I know that this has gotten the attention and spread it has precisely because Gillette have the reach as a corporate entity. Gillette can fucking rot for all I care, but I can hold the views of “fuck Gillette” and “I believe in what they’re trying to say” simultaneously because I’m a thinking person and not a one-dimensional cartoon character.

If people start buying Gillette razors now instead of Schick, I do not give close to a shit. I’ve never cared about consumers’ razor purchasing habits before and I’m not gonna start now. If this message encourages any number of men to rethink talking over their female colleagues, approaching a disinterested woman in public for their own reasons without considering her perspective, giving unwanted physical contact to a woman, teasing young boys for having tender feelings, or getting into physical altercations to solve problems, then that’s something I do care about.

I wonder what I’ll argue about on the internet tomorrow…


I will bend over backwards to defend this argument

I have a request for the guys out there.

It’s less a request than a consideration. Simply, I want you to consider buying women’s clothes sometimes. It’s both more and less specific than that, so I’ll speak plainly. Last year I bought a pair of women’s yoga pants. It was the best decision I made all year. A Joe Fresh across the road from work was having an end of year clear out. I’d seen my girlfriend and other gals wearing yoga pants and they looked snug as fuck. I’d heard them all say how comfy they were. I saw butts and the butts looked good. I noticed that Joe Fresh had pairs of women’s yoga pants for $10, and I wondered what would stop me from getting some. I mean, they technically were women’s clothing. Was that an issue?

I ran it through my head. Why is clothing gendered. Does it make sense? Are there arguments on both sides? I figured, yes. There’s context and it wholly depends on the item. In terms of pants, cis men straight up have a longer crotch. There’s more outward machinery going on down there that requires extra room. I know this because I once accidentally put on my female friend’s jeans and discovered a total lack of consideration for my aforementioned machinery. Some shapes and curves aren’t commonly replicated between the genders. I get that. At the same time, there are a bunch of clothing types for which it really doesn’t matter. Footwear, for instance, is about 1.5 sizes different. If you’re a 7 in men’s shoes, you’ll be an 8.5 in women’s shoes. I think. I once bought some jandals and the 12 was a perfect fit. I bought a women’s flight suit for a costume once and, apparently I’m a women’s size 8. Thing was, it was very roomy around the chest and tight around the waist. So no, it’s not perfect all the time.

My request, consideration or whatever you call it, is that if you’re a cis dude, to get yourself a goddamn pair of women’s yoga pants. I only mention cis dudes, because I feel/would hope that people outside of cis dudes would have the good sense to know that prescribed gender to clothing is mostly total nonsense. There’s no reason for something like yoga pants to be gendered. I LOVE my yoga pants. 99% of the time I change into them within five minutes of walking in the front door. They’re snug and comfy. I feel like I’m wearing a hug at all times. Plus they make my butt look fucking ace. There’s no reason why they wouldn’t be appropriate for anyone. They’ll conform to whatever shape you have, and make that shape feel great. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a pair.

Mine even have a tiny pocket in the front. Literally what more could you want?

Pain is bread, bread is life, life is pain

So long Montreal, I ate all the bread. Back to reality.

I’m ready to eat normally again. If I don’t see another restaurant for over a week I’ll be a happy chap. Sure, we’re going out for a meal with family tonight, but the company makes it worth it. I’m ready to eat nothing but cabbage, tuna and porridge until Halloween. It’s felt like a vacation in all forms. I haven’t given work a second thought, which has been a rare luxury. I can’t imagine how it’d feel to be in an office today, which either denotes a pretty dismal sense of imagination or a master class in denial. Sure, I don’t care much when I’m in the office, but right now I care several magnitudes less than that. Let it rot, for all I care. Take your stuffy morning commute, crappy office coffee and eight hours in front of double screens and burn it all. Until tomorrow at least. I’m still on holiday in my heart.

As ever, it is nice to come home. To sleep in my own bed, with my comfortable hovel of a home and fridge stocked with cabbage. With friends in arm’s reach and happening happenings every night of the week. With regular bed times, the gym a few nights per week and the easy, unimaginative appeal of routine. To enjoy Toronto in the Fall, with light coats, crunchy leaves and central heating. Fancy parties and excuses to dress up. Whatever clusterfuck the legalisation of weed will bring in two weeks, I’m here for the calamity. I think what I’m trying to say (not that I’ve thought it through) is that I’m lucky enough to live a life where “boring” is still fun. There’s enough going on that if it’s hard to find excitement, that’s on me. I’m happy where it counts and I count my hashtag blessings that’s the case.

It’s also time to return to life and all that encompasses. In 2018, social media happens to be part of it. I’ve been out exploring and having my fun while the vast majority of my friends have been suffering through the emotional morass of the Kavanaugh hearings. Society reaffirming that at large it doesn’t care about the struggles women face on an alarmingly frequent basis. That their words and hardships are only worth a fraction of a man’s own. That the horror of sexual assault experiences pale in comparison to a privileged, wealthy white dude with a blatant disregard for women’s reproductive rights maybe not getting to be installed as the highest security valve for the world’s loudest and most visible nation. The bravery and conviction of Ford standing up for her principles swept aside and disregarded. While I’ll never be able to truly empathise with what so many women must be going through, it’s still unfathomable to me that most of society just doesn’t seem to get why women don’t come forward against their accusers. Or how the deck is irrefutably stacked against them. That their anguish and resolve is so often wasted and worse, entirely dismissed. That it’s not just the most vile of acts that bring the entitlement of men to the fore, but constant tiny aggressions day in and day out. Being told to smile in public for the benefit of men. The double standards that see flagrant emotion as the domain of women, but seem to look the other way when men throw tantrums. Being told how to dress so as to appease men. Their conduct and manner rated on standards that men themselves never have to meet. Being talked over and taken for granted. Being seen as objects devoid of agency. Never being enough, but always too much. It’s a hard sell to tell women to mitigate themselves to fit into a society that doesn’t care for their needs. I have no intention of doing so.

Once again, back to reality. For better or worse.

And to think I woke up with no opinion on this song whatsoever

I was thinking about “The Girl from Ipanema” this morning. It’s basically just an unremarkable dude writing a song about feeling entitled to a gal he was oogling.

Thing is, he must have a bunch of albums. ‘Cause the kind of dude who gets so bent out of shape by a woman ignoring him probably gets ignored by a ton of women.

I expressed the above on Facebook today and one of my friends chimed in. He said, rightfully so, that there’s a lot of problematic stuff in past pop music, but as far as he’s concerned this song gets a pass. Who hasn’t felt the pangs of unrequited infatuation? Of wanting to talk to someone you take a fancy to, but being too afraid to say a word. This is undeniably true.

That said, the song still kinda felt a bit iffy to me and I started to think why. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with checking someone out in public. We all do it and anyone who says otherwise is probably lying. Checking someone out, in my mind, is a cursory glance or two. It’s not quite staring so intently at them you look through them and into the void. It’s not lingering unnecessarily enough that you gauge how similar the rhythm of their walk is to a musical genre. If you’re glowering at them day by day and you never make eye contact, maybe there’s a reason. People have a decent amount of peripheral cataloguing. I have no doubt that this girl- nay, woman- knows that dudes are watching her. It even says in the song that when she passes by, they go “ah!” The fact that they’re making actual exultations does not sit well with me. She knows where she’s sashaying (to the sea) and she’s pointedly staring straight ahead. This further underscores that she understands she’s being watched. She sounds single-mindedly focused, which may imply she’s had bad experiences in the past and just wants to get where she’s going. Then there’s this dude pining in the background studying her every movement thinking “how can I tell her I love her?” Love her? You’ve never met her, let alone loved her. You don’t know a thing about her, but you’re in love with her? You’re not in love with her, you’re attracted to her or infatuated by her. You’re not in love.

To be entirely honest, I have a ton of issues with the way love is represented in a wider sense. In so many movies (and not just romcoms, but especially romcoms), people “fall in love” for the sake of a plot. What they term as “love” I feel is closer to just infatuation. Maybe I have commitment issues, but love means a lot more to me than being attracted to someone pretty. I can like being around someone, be attracted to them and enjoy the chemistry, but that’s not love. Your mileage may vary, but love to me feels earned. Love is something that kind of takes hold when you realise that person is a large part of your life. Love is knowingly embracing the fact that your significant other has shortcomings. It’s not seeing the rosy ideal of how that person fulfils your needs. Love is when you want to go out of your way to take care of someone because them feeling better makes you happy. Love is picking ingrown hairs or shitting with the door open. Love is having the hard conversations without taking shots or one-upping each other. It’s understanding that there’s the option to cut and run, but there’s something larger worth preserving and working on that as a team. That seems like love to me.

Shoehorning romance into a plot or song as a way to make it easily palatable feels lazy and uninspiring. Stop using romance as a seasoning when it’s a veritable meal on its own.

ALSO after doing a bit of research and math, the “girl” in question was 17 at the time. The songwriters were 35 and 49.

Fuck this song. That girl dodged a bullet.

Back home there was a brand of boysenberry cider called “Boysencider”. I thought that was funny

My girlfriend’s going to Ottawa for two nights this week, so you know what that means… Boys’ Nights!

When I say Boys’ Nights, I more accurately mean Boy’s Nights. For this Boy, there will be two Nights in which I will have the house to myself and a cat. What will I do with this wild and crazy opportunity for madcap misadventures and silly shenanigans? I’ll probably go to the gym, come home for dinner, play some Magic and sleep with the bed to myself. Maybe I’ll even have a friend over to watch a movie. Call my unimaginitive, just don’t call me late to dinner. Because I’ll be making the dinner, so your plans will fail. Perhaps I’ll even put something in the Instant Pot so there are leftovers for future dinners. My girlfriend could even have some when she comes home. We have a freezer, time isn’t superbly limited on this whole leftover thing.

Are you disappointed at my lack of ambition? Honestly, the concept of a celebratory Boys Night Out seems kind of outdated in my life. Firstly, I don’t give a shit about the gender of who I’m hanging out with. If I enjoy their company, that’s good enough for me. Secondly, it’s not like I’m kept on a leash of sorts. My girlfriend and I live together and bed together, but it’s not like we spend all night waiting desperately for the other to get home. We hang out, but we’re also independent enough with both mutual and separate friends. Our schedules don’t always align and even when we’re home, sometimes we want to do different stuff.

The time worn “ball and chain” mentality has always fucked me off. I’m an independent guy, I don’t know that I’d last long with someone who wanted to exclusively hang out with me and not have their own interests. If I didn’t have a partner who made their own plans, I’d find it pretty tedious. We’d have nothing to talk about when we came back together (or after we “came together”, if you catch my drift). I don’t always even want to hang out with myself, let alone the same person. I need alone time and I need an assortment of friends to soak up on the regular. The only social constant I want is new and refreshing perspectives. It’s hard to get that when you’re perenially hanging out with the same folks.

If someone was enough of a drag to feel like they’d imprisoned you, why the fuck would you have married them in the first place? With a few harrowing exceptions, I’m going off the assumption that if you’re engaged, you’re probably an adult. Why “saddle” yourself with someone you create excuses to escape? That’s fucked up, right? DON’T MARRY THEM. You’re wasting their time and emotional energy until death/divorce does you part. That kind of makes you a piece of shit. Don’t be a piece of shit, don’t marry someone if you’re unsure. Personal preferences aside, it’s arguable whether marriage actually matters in this day and age beyond a symbolic gesture. I’m not knocking that gesture. Hell, I want to get married someday. I also don’t see a point in embarking along that path with a partner until it makes sense to do so? Weddings cost a lot of money and take time to plan. They’re fraught situations where many many strangers have many many opinions. Why get into that beleaguring morass with someone who you compare to a colonial incarceration tool? That seems like more than a mild oversight (if I’m being incredibly charitable) of sorts.

So yeah, big party for me. I might even put on some washing while she’s gone.

Drake has a kid in Ontario, right? I hope he’s upset too

Recent changes to the Ontario sex ed curriculum are upsetting.

I don’t mean the 2015 update, rather the fact that the new conservative government has decided to roll back to the previous curriculum. Apparently the revised 2015 curriculum was upsetting to some of Doug Ford’s voter base and one of his party promises was to repeal it. The plan at the moment is to revert to the 1998 sex ed curriculum. I could be snarky as hell on this, but I don’t know that it serves much of a point. The world has changed a lot in the 20 years since this past curriculum was implemented. Here’s what the world looked like back then:

  • Bill Cosby was a venerated family friendly icon.
  • We thought the world banking system was going to collapse over a calendar issue.
  • The human population of the world was under six billion
  • The world had never seen a black president.
  • It was illegal for LGBT people to be married in Canada.
  • Apple created the iMac. iPhones were still years away.
  • Netflix was a physical operation.
  • The Global Financial Crisis was still ten years away.

Time changes, right? The world is a lot bigger now (roughly 7.6 billion people) and we’re wildly interconnected through the internet. Obama came and went. Turns out Bill Cosby wasn’t such a nice guy. A lot of people don’t even have TVs. Y2K would almost be old enough to drink by now. Because of smart phones, we can all ignore each other on public transit. The future is now.

Socially, it’s a whole new playing field. LGBT relationships have been accepted so widely that corporations cynically try to cash in on their sexuality every year in Pride. The concepts of gender have strayed beyond their binary trappings and we’re questioning the validity of old patterns. Like, why do single stall bathrooms need to be gendered? We have hashtags now, and #metoo has brought awareness to a ton of people about the necessity of consent. Same sex couples have kids enrolled in public school. While discrimination certainly still exists, the concept of treating someone differently because of their sexual orientation is a relic from ages long past.

The 2015 curriculum sought to address a bunch of these changes and prepare children for the world they live in. Concepts like the importance of consent and respect for people different to oneself were all part of it. Body positivity and self-confidence, challenging stereotypes and understanding one’s own body all found their place into it. The curriculum talked about cyber-bullying and creating healthy boundaries. Makes sense.

Apparently this was a bit too far for some parents. On one hand, I can realise that change is scary. The idea of kids growing up too fast fills some parents with dread. Thing is, whether kids call it their wee wee or penis, it’s not gonna change its form or function. Even if you’re against expanded gender and sexual orientation expressions, pretending they don’t exist isn’t gonna make them go away. Being aware of the existence of sex isn’t gonna make kids suddenly want to do it. Netflix is available at any time now and it’s great. I’m sure most kids would rather watch cartoons than porn.

1998 was a wholly different world. Let’s please not go back to there.

More like Ca-bummer

After 30.5 years on this earth, I feel like I’ve found my place in it. Cabana Pool Bar is not that place.

Until yesterday I’m not sure I’d ever been somewhere that made me feel so vestigial. It was like stepping into another dimension where all common sense inverted. Everything had a price and that wasn’t merely financial. Seriously, everything cost. All the shaded tables were reservation only. The deck was littered with unpopulated but inaccessible tables. If we sat down, security was quick to let us know that we needed to move. The area around the pool had a $20 paywall for men. Once you were in there, however, you couldn’t sit at any of the cabanas without paying. Minimum spend to rent a cabana was $1000. We luckily had a tangential friend who had other tangential friends who’d rented a cabana. It was fucking sardined with people. After the guys in our group paid $20 each to get in, we crammed in on the edge. We stood on the precipice of an unused cabana; An unused cabana in which we were not allowed to sit or stand.

Frankly, the experience was baffling. We found the type of people for whom Cabana Pool Bar was their place in the world. They were instagram model types, dudebros with rippling abs and older men with a lot of money. A friend remarked that she probably had more body hair than all the regulars combined. Status and hierarchy oozed out of every interaction like low level rot. Us average, everyday dudes, we were twos on a scale of ten. I’ve never before set foot in a place where security’s first recourse was to physically shove me out of the way instead of using their words. I felt like an oil spill in the sun. A weird, colourful blight in a foreign environment. I’m sure you all have an image of what this place looked like by this point. Now imagine me – an overly smiley dude in a floppy yellow wide brimmed hat, a Where’s Waldo Chameleon shirt, and a rainbow coloured arm cast – where would I fit in?

Simply put, it felt like a total erasure of my existence. I talk to strangers in public fairly regularly. Their usual responses are one of three: 1) we’ll start chatting, 2) they might give a polite laugh or nod, end of interaction, 3) they’ll be a little weirded out, but give some kind of acknowledgement and maybe turn their head. I was in the pool and had some dumb observation, I turned to two women standing beside me. Almost as soon as I started talking, they looked at me, quirked an eyebrow, laughed and turned to each other to chat. The look was entirely where does this guy get off thinking he can talk to us? I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so dismissed as a human being.

It was surreal to think that if you had vast sums of money, this is how you’d choose to spend it. From top to bottom, the experience seemed a total commodification of women. Men were sold the idea of tanned, toned young women who’d give them attention. Women were sold the allure of being a glamorous object of attention, to be admired and treated. Everything was designed to be a spectacle and had its cost. Bottle service was commonplace. In the lowest tier, two bikini clad servers would march over to the cabana and present bottles. The next tier up, a team of bikini clad servers would march up, holding letters to spell out some kind of message. Wanted more? How about an extra bunch of dollars to get a fucking marching band to parade around for you? I think there was someone on stilts. I commented on the bizarre class politics at play to a friend. Was this what the upper class wanted? “Upper middle class” she replied. “If they were upper class, they’d have their own private boat. They’d tour the Caymans or something. This is what happens when the upper middle class wants the illusion of punching above their weight.”

The thing is, I don’t feel envy. I’m not even disdainful. Sure, I’d love to be a sun soaked Adonis, showered in attention. I’d love to not have financial qualms or concerns. I’d love the kind of abandon that throws caution to the wind. Really though, it’s not the life I want. You know what? These people had all the money and status they’d need, but they weren’t happy. The number of people I saw crammed into cabanas with dour expressions, so committed to being fucking grumps. It was unreal. Like they had a need that would never be filled. It wasn’t enough. Nothing was. Once they had what they thought they wanted, they needed the next thing. I lead an abundant life filled with people I adore. I’m part of a community where everyone supports one another because they want to foster joy. We all have struggles and we’re there for each other. It’s based on compassion, not competition. It was one thing to be a tourist in another culture, but holy hell I’m thankful for the lovely fucking bubble I’ve found myself in.

So fuck it. Today I’m going to Hanlans for a nude picnic with My People. That’s my place.