What Dressing Like a Slut Says

On January 24, 2011, Constable Michael Sanguinetti and another officer from Toronto’s 31 Division came to a York University Safety Forum at the Osgoode Hall Law School. While presumably listing ways to avoid sexual assault  Sanguinetti  said, “You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

It was a choice of words he came to regret. It outraged many people including one MACLEANS commentator  who said, “A woman has the right to dress as she wishes. It is never okay for someone to take away her ability to feel safe in her own body simply because society deems her dresses provocative. A woman has the right to to say ‘no’ and have her decision be respected.”

Toronto Police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray responded on behalf of the Police by saying that cautioning women on their state of dress is not part of any police training. “They are taught that nothing a woman does contributes to a sexual assault.” Sanguinetti apologized in a written statement.

The Constable’s comments triggered a “Slut Walk” at Queen’s Park in Toronto that attracted thousands of participants. The movement has now spread to the U.S. and England. The intent of the walks is to help to remove the stigma of the term “Slut”. They also want to spread the word that those who experience sexual assault are not the ones at fault, without exception.

Which is all very admirable, but ignores the fact that the Constable was trying to tell women that there are violent men out there who target prostitutes (sluts), and in some circumstances, women will be safer if they don’t dress in the same clothing that prostitutes wear in order to advertise the sex trade.

It is the same common sense that says it is inadvisable to wear a bikini to a dinner party given by the bosses wife, or a fur coat to a PETA Rally.

One step beyond wearing hardly any clothes is Nudity. In many countries public nudity is forbidden outright on the basis that nudity is inherently sexual. Large numbers of people are, for various reasons, offended by and even distressed with public displays of nudity. Attempts to make public nudity legal will likely continue to fail, mostly because the majority of people don’t have skin that fits them all that well. That is why most prostitutes dress the way they do – it is more alluring to dress like a slut than to wear no clothes at all.

Which is likely why Mark Twain observed:

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.

So ladies, wear revealing clothing if you want to. But don’t ever think it is safe to wear anything you want where ever you want. Life isn’t about Why you shouldn’t be a victim, it is about how NOT to be a victim.

How Does Fear Affect You?

Fear is an excellent motivation tool. It exerts pressure on a person to act against their normal will. It gets the job done quickly, too.

Parents use fear to encourage certain behaviour (the example I use here is likely offensive to today’s parents, but you get the idea):

Even very young children need to be informed about dying. Explain the concept of death very carefully to your child. This will make threatening him with it much more effective.
–  P.J. O’Rourke –

Even grown children can be fearful of what a parent might do:

My parents did a really scary thing recently. They bought a Winnebago. This means they can pull up in front of my house anytime now and just live there.
– Paula Poundstone –

Governments and Media use fear on a daily basis:

By keeping the population in a state of artificially heightened apprehension, the government-cum-media prepares the ground for planting specific measures of taxation, regulation, surveillance, reporting, and other invasions of the people’s wealth, privacy, and freedoms.
– Robert Higgs (Fear: The Foundation of Every Government’s Power) –

The Business Pundit goes so far as to list 25 People and Industries that Profit from Fear. You shouldn’t be surprised to find the Beauty Industry listed there…

My age group are particularly vulnerable to fear tactics. Have you watched the Insurance commercials on TV? The ones that are trying to convince seniors that they should buy life insurance to protect their grown children from the diminished value of  an estate depleted by… insurance premiums, I think. Seems to me the only ones who need protection are the seniors and that is from the insurance companies. These vultures know that statistically they will get more money in premiums from the senior than they will ever pay out to the senior’s estates.

The last and greatest fear, is of course, the Fear of Impending Death. I have heard this expressed by many senior age bloggers who lament that the greater part of their lives is past. Their future doesn’t look as rosy as it once did because there are far fewer days left.

87-clock3Sorry if you feel that way, but I think you need to get your time clock reset. You have just as many days left now as you had when you were any other age – which is exactly one day – if all goes well. That is it. Just one day, and that is this one. You have a pretty good idea about what will transpire today, unless something happens to end it all. You have absolutely no guarantee what will happen tomorrow, nor tomorrow tomorrow. And you have never known that.

That is not to say you shouldn’t plan for your future. Because you should. But plan a good future, not a crappy one based on the fears passed on to you by everything you hear and read in the media.

So, get out there and “Have a Nice Day”. The phrase isn’t as trite as it sounds, is it?

Am I Old Enough Now? Aging and Baby Boomers

Did you know that there was a time when there weren’t any Teenagers? The term is one that was coined and came into popular use in the 1940’s. Up until then, older children might be called youths, but by the time they were in their early to mid teen years, many of them were finished with school and had entered the work force. They were adults. This would have been due to the fact that life expectancy at that time was about 64 years, having increased from an average life expectancy of 51 years in 1900. A shorter life span meant a shorter amount of time was spent being a youth.

My Grandparents were certainly never teenagers. My Grandfather and his brother were in the trenches of France in World War I when they were 16 and 18 years of age. My parent’s generation were more likely to stay in school for a longer period of time, but many were in the workforce either part time or full time before they had exited their teen years.

By the next generation, teens were fully entrenched in society, and governments responded by confusing an already confused period of time in a young person’s life. They set an upper limit, an Age of Majority, when they deemed an individual should be given “all the legal rights and responsibilities that are generally available to an adult of sound mind”. That age varies from place to place and can range from 16 to 21 years.

But within that time frame, there are also numerous Ages of License, which govern everything from operating motor vehicles, leaving school, consuming alcohol, voting in an election, renting a car, possessing a firearm, giving sexual consent, and getting married. (What have I missed here?)

To put this confusion into perspective, when I was between the ages of 20 and 21, married and with one baby, I still couldn’t vote in a Canadian federal election, hadn’t reached the full legal age of majority and could not legally drink in my province.

I am now at the other end of the road, just about to become a senior-ager. It is just as confusing a time as the teen years. No one can agree on what age it starts. Governments, the workplace, and the marketplace are as inconsistent as ever in conferring the coveted entitlements, such as retirement, discounts, benefits and pensions.

Did I say Entitlements?  That seems to be a contentious word with many of the younger generation, who fear that the Baby Boomers are going to bankrupt society. The boomers argue that they have paid into these ‘entitlements’ for about 45 years or so, and certainly have an expectation that they will reap something from what they have sown.

If a younger society isn’t willing or able to support the aging Boomers, then what? The Boomers, who pioneered the concept of rising expectations, will be just as quick to force everyone into lowering their expectations. In practical terms, that might mean every working age family has a resident Boomer living in a suite over the garage all summer, and most of Arizona and Florida consists of Canadian Snowbirds living in trailers all winter…

So, what are you going to do about an aging Boomer in your family? 

Glass Ceiling is Made of Cloth

Perhaps the most over used and under explained phrase of modern times is “The Glass Ceiling“. I don’t know how many times I have read it or heard it since the phrase came into being in about 1986. Frankly, I’m tired of it. If women haven’t managed to break through that ceiling in 25 years, then it is because it is made out of something other than glass.

Personally, I think it is made out of Cloth, or some substance like that. It is acknowledged that men still hold the majority of senior management positions in most of the workplace. Have you ever noticed how they are dressed? A pair of pants with the correct break maybe, a shirt with long or short sleeves, a pair of low heeled shoes, perhaps a jacket, perhaps a tie. That is pretty much it. Various types of cloth, to be sure, but lots of cloth. I can’t say for sure what women in the workplace wear. Less cloth, more bare body, probably. Less comfortable shoes…

When I was in High School, girls had to wear skirts in class. It was during the days of the Mini-Skirt, and all the males in the school were very pleased that the Granny Skirt was out. Boys had clothing restrictions too. No blue jeans, no sleeveless shirts. All the girls complained about the inequity of these clothing guidelines, but it didn’t make any difference. Our principal made the rules, and he didn’t seem to mind mini-skirts…

Since that time, women in many countries have won the right to dress the way they want. It was one of the hard fought battles of my generation, I suppose. It is extremely frustrating to me, then, to see women give this right over to the nefarious Fashion Industry. Now, there is a plot to subvert women, if ever I have seen one. What is more bothersome, is that women buy into it… figuratively and literally. It is not like my high school principal is telling them what they can and cannot wear.

It is bad enough when women buy into the notion that Boudoir style clothing can be worn to Wal-Mart or the Office. Or that TV and Movies dress women, even strong independent ones, in low cut tops and high heels. Or that hem lengths rise and fall with the same frequency as the tides. Or that all women must choose one of 5 pre-determined sizes (which are not the same dimensions for any two manufacturers). Or that styles change every season. Or that women’s garments are not designed to be easily altered.

No, what I find more bothersome is that they let themselves be told how they should look from head to toe, then they become very critical about how every one else looks. It is a vicious circle of obsessing about what they should wear, how they should do their hair, what make-up they should put on, how skinny they should be, and what female role model they should idolize.

Yes, I know there are other obstacles to women achieving equality in the workplace. But really ladies, if you can’t peacefully co-exist with your own body (just as it is when you hop out of the shower) why do you think you are playing on the same field as the men you are competing with? 

Alzheimer’s Statistics in Canada – They Make me Nervous

How are you with Statistics? I get nervous whenever I see a bunch of them hanging around. I wonder what they are going to try to tell me or sell me. I know they are not liars, but I also know they aren’t exactly telling the whole truth either.

For example, last week I browsed the Canadian Alzheimer’s Society website. With statistics and prophesies, they paint a picture that suggests Alzheimers and other dementias are on the rise, and it will be a huge economic burden in the future. The society asks the reader to donate money to “keep providing vital services to people with Alzheimer’s disease, their families and caregivers and to continue searching for a cause and cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”

I don’t part with money easily, so I skipped to their financial statements to see how they use the money they collect. In 2010 they took in about $10 million from public donations. They spent $2.9 million on research funding, $1.8 million on public education, $3.6 million on fundraising and $1.2 million on general, administrative, board and committee.

Personally, I’m all for the research part, but this isn’t where the bulk of my money would go if I donated it to this Society. And while I don’t doubt that the Canadian Alzheimer’s Society does lots of good things, I would prefer to make a donation to a group that funds research for a cure.

To summarize, here are the statistics on the website (in italics):

– in 2008, 480,000 Canadians had Alzheimers or a related dementia,1.5% of the population
– in 2038, 1.125 million will have this set of diseases, 2.8% of the population
These figures are based on the highest rate of population increase that the Canadian Government forecasts. The increase in percentage of Alzheimers is due to the fact that the Boomer generation will push up the numbers of elderly people. The Elderly are the ones with dementia.

– in 2008 the Economic Burden of dementia was $15 billion
– in 2038 this will be $153 billion
If the number of people who will have the disease is going to double in 30 years, why is the economic burden going to increase ten fold?

– 1 in 20 Canadians over the age of 65 are at risk of having the disease.
And 19 out of 20 Canadians aren’t at risk. This is the “glass half empty or glass half full” way of looking at things.

– 1 in 4 Canadians over the age of 85 are affected by the disease.
And 3 out of 4 Canadians won’t have it. The average life expectancy in Canada is 81, by the way, so the majority of people in the country won’t live long enough to reach the age where they are at highest risk.

The next time you come head to head with some statistics, look them over carefully. What story are they telling you? Is there another story that you should look at too?

Alzheimers – What is the Future?

The QuipperyLast Monday a member of our family passed away. The dear lady was an Alzheimers patient in a Caregiving Facility. Her condition was not yet life threatening, so the family was surprised and shocked by her death. But they also took some comfort in the fact that she had been released from the ever increasing indignities of this disease.

There is no question that Alzheimers is on the rise and that it will continue to do so for some time in the future. This is because it is a disease of the aged, and people are living longer. A large group, the Baby Boomers, are just entering the first age category where Alzheimers begins to become more prevalent, so the number of patients will increase. But the big jump in death figures will come in 20 years when the Baby Boomers reach the age of 85. Alzheimer death rates rise dramatically after that age.

Considerable research is being done to cure Alzheimers. While this won’t change the fact that large numbers of people will still die of something when they are over the age of 85, it could mean that people won’t be robbed of their minds in their senior years. If there is no cure, the Boomer generation will respond with other unique coping tactics.

Fat Facts – An Obesity Epidemic or a Beauty Bias?

FAT. How can so small a word have such a bad reputation? The dictionary lists 42 synonyms, not a single one of them complimentary. What a bad rap for something we all have and need!

There is only one body type that doesn’t appear to have much body fat, and that is the one coveted by Runway Models. These people are classified as Underweight, and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 18.5. If I was to be in that category, I would have to weigh something less than 99 pounds, a figure I haven’t seen on my scale since I was a youth. Statistics indicate that 1.8 percent of the adult American population is underweight. A Recent Joint Study by Stats Canada, Kaiser Permanente, Portland State U, Oregon Health U and McGill U, indicates that Underweight people have the highest risk of death of all the BMI categories. Eating disorders and digestive diseases are associated with this group of people.

Next in line for risk are the Class III Obese people – extreme obesity. These folks have a BMI of 40 or higher. If I was in this category, I would have to weigh 215 pounds or more. US Statistics for 2008 indicate that 5.7 percent of the adult population are extremely obese. Their lives are shortened by 8 to 10 years.

These two classes represent 7.5% of the American public, and their lives are significantly shortened due to their weight. 92.5% of the population will have no appreciable shortening of the length of life. And while increased weight is considered to be a significant risk factor in Cardiovascular disease, (which is the number one killer in the USA with 39% of the deaths each year) the vast majority of those deaths are people over the age of 75. (The average American life expectancy is a bit over 77 years.)

In the category of relatively normal life spans, 33.8% of the people are Class I and II Obese. These people have BMI’s of 30 to 34.9, and 35 to 39.9 respectively.  Apparently Oprah Winfrey just slightly nudges into the Class I Obese category. (I would have to weigh 161 pounds or more to be Obese). These people’s lives could be shortened by 2 to 5 years because of their weight. Obesity has been on the rise since 1960, when the percentage of obese people was 15%. This increase leveled off in 1999, so while there are more obese people, the percentage of them is not increasing significantly.

Next in line for life expectancy are Normal  weight people. They have a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. USA statistics for 2008 indicate that 24.7% of the population was normal weight. ( I would have to remain under 134 pounds to be in this category, a feat I have rarely achieved for any extended period of time since High School.) But apparently that is okay, because Normal Weight people have a higher risk of death than overweight people. I suspect this could be because there are still more smokers in this category, but I have no figures to back this up. Smoking, by the way, has decreased by just over 20% in the same time period that human weights have increased by a similar percentage.

Overweight People, with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, live longer than any other category. USA statistics for 2008 indicate that 34% of the adult population was in this category. These are the people who have more muscles, bone, adipose (fat) tissue and/or water than normal weight people. While this will include many types of athletes, it will also include many older people who put on weight because they slow down as they age.

While these three classes of people will statistically live a similar length of time, there is no question that the people in the Obese class will generally have more health problems, resulting in a significant financial burden on the economy. Of course, this statement is equally true for those people who smoke, and abuse alcohol and drugs. It is also true for the simple reason that our population is aging. The older we get, the more likely we are to develop an ailment of some sort. Invariably we all die from something, few of us simply expiring because our bodies gave out at 125 years of age…

When it comes to public acceptance, 26.5% of the population try to make 73.5% of the population feel miserable. That is because people are more obsessed with looks than they care to admit. In an essay titled Mirror, Mirror Kate Fox notes that studies show that the ‘bias for beauty’ operates in nearly every social situation. People believe that ‘beautiful is good’ as it relates to intelligence, competence, social skills, confidence – even moral virtue. Today’s culture defines the most beautiful people in the world as being underweight or normal weight. The rest are called Fat, and they don’t stand a chance of being treated equally. The so called Obesity Epidemic is as much a Beauty Epidemic as anything.

Surfing the Internet – Addiction Disorder?

Internet Addiction Disorder
There has been an increased buzz the past few days about Internet Addiction Disorder. I thought I’d better check this out. Since I started blogging, I have been spending an awful lot of time on the internet. What with researching, writing, reading, organizing, thinking,  and corresponding, I probably spend 4 or 5 hours a day on the computer in the wintertime. Last summer, it was more like 1  hour, and at the cabin it was 0 hours.  Nevertheless, if I have developed a full blown Mental Disorder, (other than any of the other ones the family suspects I might have), I would like to be the first person to identify it.

The Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders seemed like a good place to start. The first sentence that caught my eye was: “Many people believe that spending large amounts of time on the Internet is a core feature of the disorder. The amount of time by itself, however, is not as important a factor as the ways in which the person’s Internet use is interfering with their daily functioning.”

Daily Functioning – that was a key clue to investigate for sure. I jotted it down in my Blue’s Clues Notebook (I sure miss watching that show with the Grandchildren – they outgrew it) and headed off to find the “Functioning Inspector” (my Spousal Unit).  He’s my go-to guy when I want to find out how badly I am misinterpreting things. “So,” I said casually. “Do you think I’m functioning okay?”

He looked at me like he often does when he can’t figure out why on earth I said what I did, and responded with a pithy “What!?”

Clearly I hadn’t explained the situation very well. “Daily Functioning. Am I functioning, daily, pretty much the way I always have?”

He responded, cautiously, “Why?” He wanted to test the waters to see if there was a safe way to reply to this.

“Well, I was wondering if this writing thing I’m doing is interfering with my day to day functioning.”

He didn’t answer right away. I think he was running down his mental check list of things I do for him. Clean underwear – check. Whatever else he thinks I should do – check. “No, I don’t think what you are doing is interfering with your daily functioning.”

So far so good. “What about socially? Is this affecting my social life? Am I using the computer and the internet as a replacement for social interaction?”

black and white cartoon faces
I’d like to go home now…

He thought for a moment, a brief one at that. “No, you’ve always been a Loner. Extroverted at times, but a loner, still the same. That hasn’t changed.”

I jotted a few things down next to Daily Functioning – Good – Loner. I was making real progress here. Steve (of Blue’s Clues) never looked for more than three clues, so I figured I was pretty much done with my investigation. I plunked myself down in my Thinking Chair, and started to write this post.

I concluded that… oh, wait, you should see some of the interesting things I found when I was researching this disorder, and pondering how disordered I might be:

Correct Use of Quotation Marks
I used a lot of quotation marks while trying to relay to you what the verbal exchange was between my Spousal Unit and me. I may not have got all the punctuation right, but I didn’t feel like wandering off in search of punctuation today. I also enclosed “Functioning Inspector” in quotation marks, which, according to some sources probably isn’t entirely right, but I liked the way they looked.

I couldn’t complete my assessment of whether I had a serious disorder or not without thinking about what it means to be a Loner. While Loners are often considered to be Introverted, I decided I leaned towards being an Extroverted Introverted Loner. You know, the kind that can easily meet and talk to strangers, but would sooner read about someones life than listen to the person explain their life.

After all my sleuthing and consulting, I decided I don’t have an Internet Addiction Disorder.  In fact, I think I could spend 8 or 9 hours a day on my computer without appearing any more addicted than the millions of other people in the world who spend all day tippy tapping on their keyboards all day. The only difference is, most of them get paid to do it.

How about you? Have you thought about whether you are addicted to the internet?

Baby Boomer Backlash – Their Retirement Years Will be Unique

I didn’t ask to be born, but if I had, I don’t know if I would have chosen to be born during the Baby Boom of about 1946 to 1964. I think I would have chosen a different time period – had I known how many of the ills of the world would be blamed on the Baby Boomer Generation.

A better fit for me would have been my parent’s generation – the Silent Generation. They were conservative, hard-working and they lived well below their means throughout their careers. In retirement, the Silents are by no means ostentatious or big spenders. That pretty much sums up the way my Spousal Unit and I have more or less lived our lives so far, notwithstanding the new Harley in the garage.

The Boomers are just starting to enter Retirement, and large concerns loom over how the economy will adjust to the impact they will have on Pension Funds and Health Care costs.  The Baby Boomers, and the social fabric they have created, are much more free-wheeling with their money than the Silent Generation. In fact, the Boomers are quite happy to spend money they don’t even have yet. The result is a staggering debt load. Debt is not a very good way to start retirement.

So you can see why Governments are getting nervous. They have taken all the Baby Boomers Tax dollars for the past 40 years or so, and spent it on what they thought they wanted at the time. Not a lot of thought went into saving the money for what was inevitably going to happen when the Baby Boomers exited the job market. Apparently a good many Baby Boomers weren’t much good at saving either.

The younger generations are nervous. They don’t want, and can’t afford, the burden of supporting elderly Baby Boomers. So what is going to happen?

I expect the Baby Boomers will simply adapt, and in doing so they will redefine the rules of retirement. They will work longer than previous generations. They will downsize their housing and belongings. They will move to more economical parts of the country.

Governments will adapt too. They will try to raise taxes, but the people will finally revolt and say enough is enough. So the governments will cut back on services  – which isn’t a bad thing, because there are way too many things the government does that they don’t do very well. Some Pensions and Health Care systems may fail, but that meant they weren’t built very well.

As the Baby Boomers retire, (or die off) the subsequent work forces will redeploy themselves in ways that work for them. Then the newest generation can grouse and bitch about those generations… The cycle will start again.

Generation Summary – dates will overlap as there is no standard definitions. Names may vary by country.
Lost Generation: Born 1890-1915
GI or Greatest Generation: Born 1910-1925
Silent Generation: Born 1925-1945
Boomers: Born 1943-1964
Generation X: Born 1965 to 1981
Generation Y or Millennials: Born 1980 to 1995
Generation Z or Centennials: Born 1996 to 2010
Generation Alpha: Born 2011 to 2025

In 2015 in both United States and Canada, the Millennial Generation became the largest cohort in the work force (about 35 to 37%), with the Boomer and Generation X work forces each at 31 to 34%.

Many Faces of Women’s Equality in Canada

Equality means many things to many people. In Canada, we take for granted equalities that are being fought for in other countries. These include being equal before the law, and having equal access to education, political participation, human rights, and free expression.

Which made me think about my grandmother, pictured here on her horse in the early 1900’s, likely on the family farm in Saskatchewan. I don’t know how much education she got, but Saskatchewan was responding to massive immigration by building schools as quickly as possible, with the goal of educating children until they were age 14. It was likely in one of those schools that my grandmother learned to read and write. Unlike many immigrants to Saskatchewan, my grandmother’s family were already English speaking. This would have insulated them from the discrimination other ethnic groups experienced.

When she married in 1909, she would have had the  same legal capacity as men under the Married Women’s Property Act of 1907. But she would not get the right to vote in provincial elections there until 1916.

Her career opportunities would have been affected by the constraints of a male dominated work society. She took the path of homemaker, perhaps choosing to marry a “town man” rather than a farmer in order to escape farm chores.

World War I changed the role of many women.  Some served in the military in the Canadian Army Nursing Service. Many took over the jobs of the men who were serving overseas. By the end of the war, women had shown that they were much more capable than men had thought they were! Change was in the wind. By 1920, Grandma would have been allowed to vote in federal elections, and could have run for parliament if she had so chosen.

In 1929, women won the right to be recognized as “persons”, which gave them the right to be eligible for an appointment to the Senate, attain a University Degree, enter a profession, and hold public office.

By the time my mother decided to enter the workforce, women had a much larger choice of careers. My mom worked as a music teacher, a clerk in a bank, and in a photo shop. Though the jobs may not seem too exciting by today’s standards, the locale often was. Her bank clerk job was in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, during the construction of the Alcan Highway during the Second World War.

In 1956, the Canadian Government enacted the Female Employees Equal Pay Act. It declared that women are entitled to be paid the same wage as men for similar work. Canada took a first stab at a Human Rights Charter in 1960, but it wasn’t until Canada’s Constitution was brought home in 1982 that Canadians, regardless of colour, religion, race, ethnic origin, sex, age, disability or belief were granted certain fundamental rights that no government can remove without cause.

It is one thing to have laws in place to define equality. It is quite another to enact them. Women continue to lag behind men in workplace equality.  Probably the single biggest reason is that women continue to choose to have children, and this often entails some sacrifice in their or their spouses careers in order to raise these children.

We act like that is a bad thing, but let’s get real here. Children have certain fundamental rights too, and their parents should be the ones charged with providing them with the care and support needed to raise them. If both parents think their careers are more important than their children, then they probably shouldn’t have had children in the first place… I’m all for women’s liberation and gender equality. I just don’t want to see the children get trampled in the morning rush to the office.