My Boss Is a Misogynistic Prick


  I work as a server at a family restaurant. I was sitting in a booth having breakfast before shift when my manager came over. He asked what I was reading, and I showed him my book on Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. I’m not sure why, but he rolled his eyes and said “of course you’re reading that.” I’ve only been at this restaurant for a few weeks, so I’m not sure how he developed such a quick sense of my reading preferences, nor why my book was met with such a judgmental roll of his eyes. I suppose he equates reading about celebrities to reading un-intellectual drivel. From a deeply ingrained instinct to defend my intelligence, I responded that the subject I was truly passionate about reading was feminist literature. I had only briefly begun telling him about my entire bookshelf dedicated to feminist lit, pictured in this blog’s background, when he interrupted me with “oh you’re not one of those, are you?”, the word ‘those’ dripping with malice.

  What does a feminist do at this point? Again I was faced with the choice: do I engage in a debate about feminist politics with someone whose misconceptions about feminism make him disdain the whole conversation, or do I keep my feelings inside and change the topic?

  I decided to test the waters. “Yup, I’m one of those. Have you read any feminist lit?” He said he hadn’t, but he knew all about it, and he smiled while he said that we were probably going to butt heads at work. I’m always amazed when people think they can know “all about” something, yet in the same breath acknowledge that they have done no research whatsoever. That’s not knowledge, that’s having uneducated assumptions. And it’s dangerous. What’s worse, often the people with uneducated assumptions are the loudest, most domineering people in the room. These are often people with privilege, i.e. my male boss, who don’t study oppression because they themselves have never experienced it due to their privilege, and as a result frequently believe oppression doesn’t exist.

  I listened for a while as my boss went on a rant about feminists being man-haters, then switch to rapid-fire to the topic of gay relationships (he may not see oppression, but some part of him linked two oppressed groups in one conversation, women and the LGBTQ community). He expressed what I have heard so many others express. He doesn’t “agree with it” (‘it’ being the act of being gay), but he thinks people can “do what they want”. Not waiting for my response he added this caveat: “I don’t mind you being gay, but don’t rub it in my face. Like, if you’re at a restaurant, don’t be making out and stuff. Respect that others don’t agree with you. Just have respect.” As if all gay couples are hyper-sexual and take every opportunity to make-out in public. I wonder if he warns his straight friends when they come to the restaurant not to make-out in the booths?

  The conversation was entirely one-sided. How could it be any other way? He has privilege, takes up more space than me physically and verbally, isn’t really interested in a conversation but uses me as an audience to voice his sexist and homophobic opinions, and he is also my boss. I didn’t stand a chance. So, like so often, I tested the waters, decided they weren’t safe for me, and backed right out. Welcome to the patriarchy. How can people deny its existence? It’s here, and it’s oppressing me everyday.


The Patriarchy Exhausts Me



  I haven’t written a post in over three months. Lately I have felt overwhelmed by the inequalities I both see and experience in my community. Nothing kills a feminist spirit like repeated acts of oppression that go both unnoticed and unacknowledged by the community at large. I have been feeling beaten down by my patriarchal society, by the community members who perpetuate the oppression of women and minority groups. I think what has been bothering me the most these past few months is this feeling of isolation. I don’t mean to belittle activists in my city, or the enormous work of feminist scholarship that’s been written throughout the years. I acknowledge that there is a huge community of feminists both in my city and around the globe, and I deeply appreciate their work. I know that without the work of the feminist activists, my life would be a lot more shackled by patriarchal notions of feminity than it currently is.

  But this feeling of being an isolated feminist in my daily life persists. In my day-to-day life, I am mostly surrounded by people who still think that “feminist” is a dirty word, synonymous with man-hater. I have an uncle who thinks it’s ok to call females “broads”, and who will imitate his idea of gay men by sashaying and speaking with a lisp. When I log into Facebook I have to scroll tentatively through my newsfeed because there is often a very triggering and explicit pro-life article with graphic images and/or video. When I walk down the street I’m subjected to the occasional cat-call or drive-by whistle. And both my past and present restaurant jobs are full of characters whose sexist comments and uninformed, as well as often loud, opinions on women cause me heartache.

  The big question I face every single  day is whether to engage in what will become a heated debate about feminist politics with these individuals, or to take it silently and spare myself the effort of trying to change someone who doesn’t think their beliefs need changing.

  It’s exhausting. And in most of these situations, I am without a feminist ally to back me up.

  I know that my entrance into the feminist world, the classes I took in school, the volunteer work I’ve done, and the feminist literature I’ve read, have made me into a better person, and I like who I’ve become. But enduring life as a female in a patriarchal society is exhausting and spirit-dampening.

  Here’s another question I keep asking myself. Is it better to live ignorant of your own oppression and degradation, or to live fully aware of it and not be able to change it? I sometimes wonder if feminism 101 has ruined me. I am now too critical, too informed, and too invested in my own equality, so much so that I feel like a feminist sailor lost at sea, being buffeted and half-drowned by the waves of sexism that threaten to swallow me whole.

  As I write this, I have to acknowledge that there are so many women in my community, let alone the world, who are suffering much worse from our sexist society. I volunteer at Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver each week, and the number of women accessing our services is a constant reminder of how badly our society needs a more feminist mentality. I know that there are many feminist groups that I could join to feel less isolated, but what I really want, what I really dream, is that one day I won’t need to join groups that meet once a week and share stories and support. Instead, I want my entire community, my workplace, my school, my streets, my family, to be a network of feminists who understand women’s issues and who are actively working to change them for the better. I want to live in a society that is infused with self-identified feminists, of people who respect and support women, who eat live and breathe equality everyday.

Feminism and The Matrix

Society is coded. Feminism can unlock it.

Society is coded. Feminism can unlock it.

Blue Pill or Red Pill?

  I equate my entrance into the world of feminism to Neo’s decision in the movie “The Matrix” to take the red pill from Morpheus. Take the red pill, learn all the dark and dirty secrets of our society. Take the blue pill, remain ignorant and continue life as you have. If you choose to take the red pill, however, be warned; there is no going back. You cannot unlearn what you are about to learn. You will never be the same. You will never look at the world the same way again.

  My Matrix journey began just like Neo’s. It didn’t start when he was offered the choice. It began much earlier. It began when he started noticing that something was a bit off in the world, that something was not quite what it seemed. It was a suspicion that grew with time.

  I first noticed the world was not quite what it seemed in high school. My older sister, who graduated before I entered high school, had been a sports jock, a tom-boy, and a basketball star. I admired her and wanted to be just like her. I unconsciously followed in her footsteps, wearing baggy sweatshirts and track pants to school, shooting hoops in the gym during lunch, challenging boys to beat me in a game of 21. While these were all things I wanted to do, there was always the underlying knowledge that this wasn’t what I was supposed to do, what the other girls were doing. I felt torn between the feminine and the tom-boy. I wanted to be considered pretty like my girlfriends and to attract boys’ attentions, but wearing make-up wasn’t practical when I came to class still sweaty from the gym.

  My suspicions grew when my older sister came out as gay, and my ideas of masculine and feminine were even more blurred. Would he be the boy or the girl in his relationships? If he was “the boy”, would he have to cut his hair? Why did he sometimes still wear make-up? I am tempted to equate the moment when Neo gets the phone call from Morpheus to when my sister came out as my brother, but I think it really happened in my sociology class. Not in one particular sociology class, but it grew out of the combination of many. Eventually I reached the word feminism, and the metaphorical pills were offered. Like Neo, I was far too invested in discovering what this concept really was to even consider the blue pill.

  Later, when Neo struggles to come to terms with the ugliness of his new reality, Morpheus says “I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.” This has been my experience with feminism.

  And like Cypher, the steak-craving traitor who thinks wistfully of his simpler, ignorant existence, I sometimes ask myself, why didn’t I just take the blue pill?

About This Feminist Blogger


I am a self-identified nerd, bookworm, and feminist. I attend a medieval fair every summer with my dad where we watch mediocre jousting and shoot replica bows at hay-bale targets. I love all things dragon, and have long been on the hunt for some fierce-looking dragon bookends. When not collecting frogs and bugs in the ditch along my street, my childhood self was immersed in fantasy novels like “The Fionavar Tapestry”, “The Wheel of Time”, and “Eragon”.

This spring I accomplished something I’ve always wanted to do: graduate from university. I earned my Degree in English Literature with a minor in Sociology after four and a half years of late nights in the library, shitty part-time jobs, and more than a handful of Impark tickets. My first introduction into feminist thinking came when I took a Sociology 101 class. My professor, whose age could have been anywhere from late thirties to early fifties, showed me what a woman with a little bit of knowledge could achieve. To my first year mind, she was empyral. She took immediate command of the classroom, tossing out jokes like an experienced comedian, scribbling ideas rapid-fire in her awful handwriting all over the whiteboard, spouting quotes from Foucault and Marx like she had drinks with them just last night. Something about her identity both as a qualified and engaging professor as well as a confident and knowledgeable woman in a position of power had me in awe. I continually work towards my perception of her successful, incredible life.

Since her class, I’ve engaged in my studies from a feminist perspective. I continued to major in literature, my first passion, but did so with an eye for the treatment of women in fiction and an eagerness for female authors. I’m passionately consumed with the idea of art as a medium through which to gain insight into society, whether its 17th century Victorian society or our current hypothesis of future millennia societies and how they will operate. I’m fascinated by how macro societal institutions like government and schools influence and shape the micro, the individual lives of women across the globe. I’m infuriated by how magazines and movies shape the way I view my own body and how the media influences the way I interact with it. I’m terrified of how my Catholic upbringing has affected my pathology and damaged my sexual growth and identity.

With this blog I hope to learn more about my and other women’s current place in the world, the position women wish to inhabit in the world, and how to make the two meet.

Can I Get a Feminist Character?


   Meet Go Go Tomago, one of the 6 heros in Pixar’s new film Big Hero 6. She’s attending university, she’s building a kick-ass bike, she uses awesome catch-phrases like “woman up”, and has crazy talent with mechanics.

   She’s also moody, dark, and kinda stand-offish. Sigh. Why can’t there be a strong, talented female that we don’t have to attach such shitty characteristics to? Her first interaction with the film’s protagonist Hero paints her as a kind of rude, unwelcoming character:

   I’m not saying that women have to be friendly and smiley all the time. But context is important. She’s meeting her close friend’s little brother. Would a “Nice to meet ya” be too much to ask? As a female, does Pixar feel that she have to be moody to counter-balance her skill in electro-mag-suspension (whatever the heck that is)?


   Now meet Honey Lemon. She’s bubbly, friendly, touchy-feely, eccentric, tall, thin, and her specialty is chemical-metal-embredlement (again, is this stuff real?). Which of course, is exploding pink bubbles. Oh, and she wears 6 inch pumps in the lab.

   Do brilliant women have to fall into two categories? Moody and edgy or bubbly Barbie? What about Hero? He gets to be brilliant (he’s admitted to the university despite being way underage), he’s edgy (he battles bots illegally), he’s friendly (he has no problem gaining the respect and friendship of the other students), and he doesn’t look like a million other Disney heros (he’s short, Asian, and has shaggy/spiky hair). He is free to break the male mould and be his own unique character, without the added drama like Go Go Tomago.

   So to view Go Go Tomago as a feminist, which I totally do, I have to criticize Pixar’s characterization of her. Does she have to be stand-offish? Does she have to refuse help from her friends? Does she have to frown and pop her gum in peoples’ faces? And does she still have to fit into a spandex hero costume that emphasizes her bust and butt? Oh look, another picture of a woman in which the viewer can see her boobs and butt at the same time (impossible, by the way). Jeez, Pixar. Show some originality. 


Until then, woman up!

This Post is About a Horse


So here’s what happened…

  I was one of those fortunate kids whose parents were able to afford to have horses in their backyard. On my eleventh birthday my parents took me out to the barn and filmed my surprise as I discovered my very own horse waiting patiently in his new stall for me. I was confident we would take over the world of horse-jumping, and promised him early on that we would never be parted. His name was Dakota, and he was a 14.3h Appaloosa gelding. He was friendly, easy to keep, and incredibly lazy. As I grew the next few years, my appetite for horse speed increased. I lost interest in riding English and in jumping. Fast horses and timed events like barrel-racing became my passion. Unfortunately, Dakota was not built for speed, nor was his lazy personality suited for it.

  After I sold Dakota, I went on the hunt for a barrel horse. A horse who was quick and agile, who would whip around the barrels and fly home, but who was also calm and relaxed. Not an easy combination to find. After a long search and many trials, I found an Appendix mare way out in Chilliwack. It was March when I drove out to see her, and I was bundled in layers of fleece with a down vest. Pulling into the gravel drive, I looked out into the huge, unkept pasture and saw a couple of unimpressive brown horses in the distance. A woman named Kathy came to greet me, enthusiastically describing the horse’s many qualities. As we walked up to the gate, the horses perked their heads up and came at a lazy walk towards us.

  Cheyenne was the smaller and younger of the two, and was as prepared for winter as I in her shaggy, mud-splattered coat. She had longs whiskers and a somewhat wild appearance. But she stood quietly while we saddled her, and seemed content to be lead into the riding ring, which was simply another field with a bit of sand spread over it.

  I tried her out twice more before I bought her, and from there we never looked back. We competed in rodeos, in games days, took Parelli lessons, and galloped through Campbell Valley. We scaled a mountain called Paradise Valley, but what I later referred to as Death Mountain because of its steep cliffs and its tiny goat-trail of a path through the dense bush. We survived the mountain with only a small accident, in which we had to resort to duct-tape to secure a bandage on Cheyenne’s cut leg. Our bond grew with each adventure.

  Eventually I graduated high school, and with a scholarship to university, I made the very difficult decision to sell Cheyenne and move on from my life with horses. There was a sweet sense of irony when I sold her back to Kathy, who had missed her the entire time.

  It’s been five years since I sold my childhood horse. Since then, I have graduated university with a degree in English Literature, minoring in Sociology. I’ve traveled to Europe, spent a semester studying in Germany, moved to Vancouver, moved to New Westminster, met my partner, and developed amazing relationships with my two nieces and my nephew. I’ve learned about heteronormativity, about social injustices, about the need for funding for trans surgeries in BC, and about abusive relationships. So much of me has changed, and yet my love and adoration for Cheyenne has remained.

So I decided to contact Kathy and get my horse back.

  The thought of seeing Cheyenne, of bringing her home once again, has been growing in my mind for months. What I didn’t know was what an adventure it would be to find out what happened to her.

  Having lost Kathy’s phone number, I decided to simply drive out to her house in Chilliwack. It took me an hour and a half, and the whole way my palms were sweating and I felt sick to my stomach. It took me a few minutes to convince myself to get out of the car when I eventually did pull into the driveway. When I did, I found that the house was boarded up and the barn was empty. The feeling of nausea ballooned and I rushed back to my car.

  I found a Starbucks at the next freeway exit and decided to re-group. I had brought my laptop, and I used it to look up Kathy’s number online. I found three listings with her last name, and tried them all. Only one was still in service, and when the answering machine came on, I was sure that it was her voice. What do you say on the answering machine of a woman you met once ten years ago to buy a horse, then again five years ago to give the horse back? I’m still not sure if the message I left made much sense. I do remember being incredibly excited when I left it.

  Below her number was an address. I had driven this far already, I thought, I might as well try it out. So I drove the extra twenty minutes to try knocking on what might be Kathy’s new residence. I realized this might be violating some sort of privacy, but I held onto the belief that Kathy was the kind of person that would be happy to talk to me.

  No-one was home, and I decided to drive back to my place and figure out some other way to find Cheyenne. An idea occurred to me while I was driving. Cheyenne was a registered Appendix, and the horse breeder would be listed on her papers. When I got home I pulled out the file I had kept of her and looked through her papers. Sure enough, a man named J*** Gardner bred her back in 1996. Using the same online phonebook I had used to find Kathy’s number, I found Mr. Gardner’s. When I got a hold of him and explained my unusual situation, he told me he was good friends with Kathy, and he was happy to fill me in on Cheyenne’s past five years.

  Kathy had a divorce and had to sell her farm, including Cheyenne. A man in Alberta bought her, but later sued Kathy because she wouldn’t work for him the way he wanted. He also beat her, which broke my heart. The judge dropped the charges when Kathy brought witnesses like Mr. Gardner to explain that Cheyenne was well trained, and any problems the man had with her were horsemanship issues, not problems with the horse. Cheyenne ended up going to Kathy’s brother in Alberta. This was good news, I thought. I was sure that Kathy could convince her brother to sell Cheyenne back to me. Mr. Gardner, however, explained that Kathy’s brother had sold Cheyenne to another man in Alberta, and he didn’t have his contact information. I would have to wait until Kathy got back from Cancun (the reason she hadn’t been answering her phone or at her house) to ask her. I thanked him for his time, and began the wait until Kathy came back to Canada.

  Just a week ago I received a call from her. She was thrilled that I still thought of Cheyenne, and that I wanted her back. She promised to look into it, and to contact her current owner. I would have to wait a while, but she would get back to me. I imagined what the homecoming would be like, how good it would feel to wrap my arms around her sturdy neck and give her a long-awaited hug. I imagined leading her back into her stall, laid fresh with clean shavings, her nameplate still on the door. I would make her a warm bran mash, the horse equivalent to a delicious and healthy porridge, and fill it with chopped carrots and sliced apples. I could rub her velvety nose, and scratch that spot between her ears that she likes. And most importantly, I would love and care for her in her old age, providing her with every comfort during her twilight years.

  Kathy called me yesterday, and I could tell from her voice that none of these things would come to be. The man who owned her now was not interested in selling her. His daughter is looking after her and riding her through the trails by their house. Kathy thanked me again for my interest in our beloved horse, and assured me that the man would contact us first if he ever decides to sell her. I thanked Kathy and we wished each other a Merry Christmas.

  As happy and relieved as I am that Cheyenne has a good and loving home now, I can’t help but feel disappointed. The adventure of finding my childhood horse is over now. I know where she is, I know who owns her, and I know she is loved. What else can I wish for? I’m glad that she’s safe, and am grateful for the years I got to spend with her.

Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love, & Fashion

 “When you’re a fatty, eating a cupcake in public is a radical act. When you’re a fatty, wearing a short skirt or a tight dress is revolutionary. When you live in this world, loving your round, flabby body is avant-garde.” (176)

  This past March I attended a Sister Spit event in Vancouver. The group is made of poets, novelists, feminists, and queer activists who load into a van and haul themselves across Canada and the US to spread their work. One of the women featured in the event was Virgie Tovar, a brilliant woman who has used her sharp wit and life experience as a full-figured female to put together a fat-positive anthology.  Continue reading

Romance or Abuse?


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Showcase is nearly finished its first season of the T.V series adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander”. Both my older sister and my mom read the series when I was younger and had suggested that I might enjoy it, despite the scenes my mom thought might be too racy for a fourteen-year old. At that point in my reading career, I was voraciously devouring every fantasy novel I could get my hands on. Being a romance novel sans dragons, I was uninterested until just last year when a friend of mine recommended it. While I still enjoy the occasional escape into dragon-lore and fantasy, this type of romance/historical fiction/fantasy is now more compelling.  Continue reading