Tag Archives: suicide

People need to stop being dicks on the subway by taking up way too much space. Oh wait. No, just men need to stop doing that. More equality!

16 Sep

I’m a bit cranky today, owing to the fact that I am suffering from a wicked head cold thanks to the filthy, germ-ridden little creatures who live here with me.  Kindergarten plague. Ugh.  Even so, this tumblr has pissed me off royally.  It’s called Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train.

bag guy


Having spent a good deal of time on public transportation in Shanghai, Melbourne, Manchester, Toronto, Athens and Seattle, I know a bit about how to travel with a few manners.  I also know how to travel with a modicum of sense when it comes to protecting personal belongings.  And when I looked at these pictures, for the most part, I saw people taking reasonable precautions not to get their bags stolen, and not to trip people moving past them.


Almost all the men taking up too much space have large bags or backpacks between their feet, meaning that A) they aren’t taking up the seat next to them, and B) they can smush the bags against the lower portion of the seat so that people walking by don’t get tangled up in the straps.

bags 3

Why is this even an issue?  Well, duh, it’s because people men who sit with their legs apart and bags between them are trying to send a message to fellow travellers that they have really big dicks and that the entire world needs to stop spinning on its axis and accommodate said ginormous dicks.

fuck you week

Maybe these fucking idiots think we women are impressed when they act like their penis is so fucking big that they can’t even try to make room for you next to them on the bench. Because if there’s one thing we ladies like, it’s a monster dick the size of yule log (Happy Holidays!) and a man who won’t offer us a seat because it makes him slightly uncomfortable.

Anyway, these dudes aren’t going anywhere. They’ve been around forever (your pilgrim dick is not that big) and they’ll stay around forever (your cyborg dick doubles as a gun), so all we — women, children, the vast majority of men who understand the basic concepts of space and sitting down — can do is quietly rage and occasionally work up the courage to ask you to move your fucking legs. But that doesn’t mean we’re not glaring at you with the power of a thousand fuck yous when we see you treat the service that we all pay the equal amount to use like it’s your own fucking castle. Trust us, the major dick here is not in your pants — it’s you. You’re the fucking dick, so close your legs or go fuck yourself.

That little screed was part of the delightful Fuck You Week at Jezebel, and demonstrates the usual level of vitriol, bitterness, stupidity and hate we have come to expect from the ladies at good ole Jez.


Because you KNOW it’s only ever men who sit with their legs apart on the tube, right?


And women never, ever keep their bags between their feet.


And they certainly never collapse over into someone else’s seat.

Fat woman in subway, Fat Frau in U-Bahn, Grosse femme dans le métro, Tlustá ¸ena v metru

Nor do they ever take up an inordinate amount of space giving each other pedicures on the fucking train.

women 7

They never fall alseep with their legs splayed.


And they never, ever sport asses so huge they have little choice but to take up two seats.

bus 3

They don’t take up the seat next to them with their bags.

bus 2

Women never carry giant bags you just know are gonna end up shoved in someone’s crotch.


They don’t spread out their legs at the bus stop, cramming Doritos (or whatever healthy snack that is) into their fat maws while airing out the lady cave for passerbys.  Nope.  That neeeeeeeever happens.


This kind of idiocy and first world problem bullshit makes me so angry because it seems deliberately designed to encourage women to get on trains or other forms of public transportation, ignore all the women doing the EXACT SAME FUCKING THINGS, and just spend the journey “leaning in” to perfect their hatred of men.

It irritates me because there is no reason for it. Everyone can be as asshole on the train or bus, and sometimes the things that we consider “asshole” behaviour actually have a pretty good reason behind them.  One of my pet peeves is parents with monster strollers on public transportation.  Or anywhere for that matter.  Strollers are not required.  The number of times I took a stroller on public transportation and forced other people to trip and squish themselves against an ugly, wheeled monstrosity:  ZERO!

Hello, baby sling.

baby sling

Strollers are not required equipment, and taking them on public transportation makes most of the stroller brigade assholes.

Now, having said that, I travelled with Pixie on public transportation with 5 year old LittleBear in one of those gigantic jogging strollers that everyone had to contort themselves to get around.  LittleBear has had his abdominal muscles cut through 63 TIMES, and he isn’t very good at standing up on the subway, so fuck all the haters – he was in a super comfy stroller that maximized his comfort and forced everyone else into some momentary discomfort.


So sad, too bad.  LittleBear had a good reason to be in stroller.  Most kids have no reason.  Their parents are just dicks.

It happens.  People are assholes.  They act as though the whole damn world belongs to them, and everyone else should just put up and shut up.  What this tumblr blog is claiming is that MEN, and ONLY MEN are assholes on public transportation, and that really, really annoys me.

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m in a really foul mood today owing to the fact that I despise being colonized by the snot virus, but it seems to me that the level of hate has been ratcheted up a notch lately.  Hannah Roisin, in a recent Slate column, proclaimed that the patriarchy is dead, and that it serves little purpose for women to continue to blame their problems on a nebulous at best entity that hasn’t been in evidence in North America for at least the last 70 years.

Marble Gravestone


Critics responded by creating a list of 39 things the “patriarchy” is responsible for, including vajazzling, juice cleanses, cardio pole-dancing, peak fertility and the fact that women can’t seem to nail down those pesky Nobel Prizes in any meaningful category.


Yeah, peak fertility is totally the fault of patriarchy.  And so are cupcake shaped vibrators.  Totally rapey patriarchy.



Really? That’s your fucking argument?  You’re oppressed by vibrators shaped like cupcakes?

Meanwhile, in the real news, boys continue to slide behind girls in academic achievements, which has profound consequences for our whole society and economy because boys are the ones who grow up to actually MAKE SHIT THAT WE USE.   You know, when they’re not cooling off their gonads on the train.

The achievement gap has life and death consequences for working class men, and men of color, in particular.

“Nearly half of young men of color age 15 to 24 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead.”

Nearly half!   We are throwing away nearly half of our young men of color and the shape of your vibrator is the key issue feminists want addressed?

fuck off


It’s not like the problem is even difficult to remedy.  Bring back vocational and technical training at the high school level – areas of education traditionally dominated by boys, who have this weird little quirk that makes them want to DO USEFUL SHIT.

shop class

The American system for preparing young people to lead productive and prosperous lives as adults is clearly badly broken.

Failure to aggressively overcome this challenge will surely erode the fabric of our society. The American Dream rests on the promise of economic opportunity, with a middle class lifestyle for those willing to work for it. Yet for the millions of young Americans entering adulthood lacking access to marketable skills, the American Dream may be just an illusion, unlikely ever to come within their grasp. If we fail to better prepare current and future teens and young adults, their frustration over scarce and inferior opportunities is likely to grow, along with economic inequality. The quality of their lives will be lower, the costs that they impose on society will be higher, and many of their potential contributions to society will go unrealized. This is a troubling prospect for any society and almost certainly a recipe for national decline.


For all the impressive gains women have made in education and labor force participation, they are incapable of preventing national decline, and indeed, may even be hastening it.

Girls don’t typically grow up to do useful shit that we NEED as an economy and society to survive.  Boys are the ones who grow into the men who do the hard, dirty, difficult, challenging work of creating our machines and keeping them running.  Work that typically doesn’t take place in an air-conditioned office, and tends to be hell on manicures.


The skilled trades sector is in precipitous decline, with few workers in the pipeline to replace the aging workforce.


The majority of those workers are men, and no doubt, will continue to be men, who express more interest in the skilled trades than women.

employment sector


We’re throwing away half of our young men of color, denying all young men the opportunity to learn the skills they need to contribute to society in the way they WANT TO which happens to coincide with the way we NEED them to, and the problem we’re gonna talk about is that they take up too much space on the trains?

trains high

The trains that men designed?

Most engineers are men.


That men built?

Most manufacturing, especially heavy manufacturing jobs are held by men.


That men drive?

Most train conductors are men. In fact, the 2010 census shows 0% of women working as locomotive engineers, which means there are a few, but not enough to reach 1% of the total workforce.


That men maintain?


Another 0% of women work as railroad brake, signal, and switch operators, while a whopping 6% of conductors and yardmasters are women.


I have an idea.  How about until we have a rail line with trains that were designed by women, built by women, maintained by women, driven by women –  how about women shut the fuck up about how much space men take up on the train?

And try taking up a little less space yourself.

women 5

And perhaps, just perhaps, we should start talking about just who is going to continue to run our national transportation network when we throw all our public resources into educating more baristas of arts and ignore the boys who will grow up to design, build, operate and maintain our basic infrastructure?

The patriarchy may be dead, but the matriarchy certainly isn’t, and it looks poised to bring the whole world to a standstill.


Force boys into smaller and smaller spaces, and you destroy us all.

How very clever.

Lots of love,


Two lovely girls are dead by suicide, and we need to talk about how the world has changed.

12 Apr

Rehtaeh Parsons, 17 years old.


Audrie Pott, 15 years old.


These two girls took their own lives after pictures of boys sexually assaulting them were plastered across the entire context of their social worlds.  They could not live with the shame. The loss of these girls is an undeniable tragedy, and if we are going to avoid more of these fatalities, we need to talk about how the world has changed, and how we can protect all our children in this new world order.


This won’t be an easy conversation to have, and I am extremely reluctant to add to the pain the families of these girls are going through, but I feel like the cultural conversation surrounding these deaths is leaving out a few important things.

First, I’d like to put the loss of the girls into a specific context:  youth suicide.  Rehtaeh lived in the province of Nova Scotia in Canada.  The overall suicide rate in Nova Scotia in 2004 was 9 per 100 000, slightly below the national average (p.29).

The overwhelming majority of people who took their own lives were men: 84% (p.32).

Age adjusted rates appear to show the same ratio for youth suicides, defined as between 15 and 19 years of age:  90% young men (p.33).



The loss of every single one of those people is obviously a tragedy and something we wish we could prevent.  But there is something worth noting in the media hysteria that surrounds young women who take their lives that just doesn’t happen when the victims are male, despite the fact that most victims of suicide ARE male.


Here is the story of Adam Cashen, just one of the boys who took his own life in Nova Scotia in 2009.  It’s heart-breaking to read, and notable for being an uncommonly told story.  Culturally, we simply don’t react to men taking their lives the way we do to women.


Part of the media reaction can be accounted for by the circumstances surrounding the loss of these girls:  both Audrie and Rehtaeh were raped, had photos taken of the assault and those photos were circulated widely within their social circles.


There are two things worth discussing here:  what were the specific circumstances that led to the assault, and why did the pictures get so widely distributed?

Let’s talk about the latter first:  why were those pictures posted and reposted, tweeted and retweeted?


In the Daily Mail, Rehtaeh’s mother says “She was a friend the day before and the next day she’s a slut? And they’ve know her their whole life?”


Why would Rehtaeh’s friends, people whom she has known her whole life, turn on her like that?  It seems obvious to me: they’re terrified.  Absolutely, utterly terrified that something similar could happen to them. Rejecting Rehtaeh was a simple defense mechanism against the fear of becoming a victim themselves.


And that leads directly to the hardest part of the conversation:  if the only way Rehtaeh’s friends could think of to protect themselves was to scorn her, we need to offer some new defense mechanisms.

This is where I will get screamed at for victim-blaming, but I’m going to go ahead and talk about this anyways.  Without a doubt, what happened to Rehtaeh and Audrie was criminal.  There is no question that they were incapable of giving consent, and they were assaulted.  Why is there no question?  Well, first of all, there are photos of the assaults. But mostly?


Because they were both blind drunk.

Rehtaeh had been drinking straight vodka and smoking pot.  Audrie had been drinking Gatorade mixed with hard liquor.

They both ended up passed out.

Both were at the homes of people they didn’t know particularly well, with no adult supervision.


And both those girls ran into the wrong people.  Let’s not pretend, either, that it’s only ever boys who will take advantage of young women who are vulnerable thanks to isolation and drunkenness.  Yesterday’s post is a testament to the fact that putting yourself in dangerous situations with little girl psychopaths can have some pretty horrific outcomes, too.



The very simple fact is that the world has changed:  the kinds of situations that happened to Rehtaeh and Audrie have happened to countless other girls over the course of time, too.  This isn’t something new. The Rape of the Sabines was written somewhere around 750 BCE, and it’s the same old story:  a big party, the ladies get trashed and then carried off and raped.


What HAS changed is the aftermath.  A girl can no longer wake up after an experience like that and resolve that she will NEVER be drinking that much vodka with boys she doesn’t know again.  Lesson learned.


Now there is evidence.  A trail of photographs and texts, tweets and Facebook updates that reveal her judgement and assault to the whole world for verdict.  She cannot keep her shame to herself.  She must share it with everyone.

It doesn’t help to demand that texting pictures of naked minors be illegal.  IT’S ALREADY ILLEGAL!  So is drinking alcohol under a certain age, and smoking pot.  That doesn’t stop teenagers from doing it.


It also doesn’t help to teach boys not to rape.  The vast majority of them NEVER WILL.  Treating all boys as potential rapists in need of training is demeaning and insulting and engages some of the grossest stereotypes about boys and men:  ones we would never accept about any other social group.



You can’t teach criminals not to be criminals:  they DON’T CARE what the laws are or what’s allowed in regular society.  That’s WHY they’re criminals.

What we CAN do is teach our sons and daughters not to put themselves into vulnerable, dangerous situations in the first place.  We don’t seem to have a problem culturally in telling travelers how to avoid getting mugged in unfamiliar places far from home.



Nor do we have any problem conducting research into how the way you walk makes you more or less likely to be victimized.



We’re perfectly comfortable teaching our kids “basic street sense” like avoid dark alleys, stick with people you know and trust, and tell your parents where you will be.


But for some reason, our cultural hackles go up when it comes to teaching our teenagers how to avoid situations that will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to fend off a rapist, should they happen to run in to one.

This isn’t about fearing or mistrusting all boys, because ALL BOYS ARE NOT RAPISTS.

Reality check:  some of them are.

Another reality check:  some girls are rapists, too. 


No one deserves to be raped.  Or mugged.  Or punched in the face.  Or robbed.  Or to get hit by a car.  It’s infantile to suggest that offering precautions to avoid those things is equivalent to suggesting someone “deserved” whatever it is they got.



We need to be having incredibly frank and open discussions with both our sons and daughters about the fact that they CAN be sexually assaulted, and that a single camera phone present at the time of the assault could very well ruin their lives as they know them.  There is nothing controversial about acknowledging that bad people exist, and if we want our kids to be able to avoid those people, we are going to need to equip them with some updated street sense.

Never get drunk with people you don’t know well

Always travel with your friends

Have a pact with your parents AND your friends that if you get pass out drunk, someone will call your mom or dad to come and get you

Don’t go to house parties if you don’t know the people very well

If you ever see pictures of someone being assaulted, tell your parents.  Do not RT, ever!

Those are just the basics.  I still have a few years before I will have to confront the new reality of teenage sexuality and social media and the ubiquity of camera phones, but you can be certain I will be teaching both my daughters and my son how the new world works.

And how they can be hurt.

And how they can avoid that.

If Rehtaeh and Audrie have anything to teach us, it’s this:  we can’t put off this conversation any longer.

It’s a matter of life and death.


And we don’t need one single more devastated Dad, weeping over his beautiful angel.


Lots of love,


Of course you can blame the victim. Who else are you going to blame?

25 Feb

Do you have diabetes? Is that because you’re 200 pounds overweight and you maintain your heft with a steady diet of donuts, hotdogs and big gulp sodas?


Gosh, that’s too bad. It’s not your fault, though, sweetie. A nefarious plot between corn producers, the government and convenience store owners caused you to walk by that bag of unsalted almonds and bypass the bottle of water and head straight for the squeezy cheese and nachos. Nothing you can do about that.

There, there.

We can’t blame the victim, now, can we?


Did you grab your boyfriend’s phone and hit him in the face with your shoes and then he beat the shit out of you?


Not your fault. We’re not blaming the victim.

Did you get shit-faced at a football party and chase after some star players and then pass out and get treated like a little tramp?


That was completely unpredictable and you cannot be held responsible. No victim blaming, people!

Victim-blaming is MEAN! It’s an expression of privilege and an advantageous position in a hierarchy of power and it must never be used to further wound or injure people who have, by definition, already been hurt: that’s what VICTIM means.



Are you a working class male suffering from depression and a sense that your life has no meaning or value or direction? Did you deal with your crippling sense of dislocation and detachment by putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger?


Oh. Well, in that case, it IS your fault. You’re the sort of victim we CAN blame.


This is actually very upsetting.

Public policy needs to respond urgently to the problems that men and boys create and the problems that they experience, according to a new report by the Coalition on Men and Boys. This must take place alongside efforts to improve the position and status of women.

Taken from a report called Men, Suicide and Society: Why Disadvantaged Men in Mid-life Die by Suicide.


You can read an excellent critique of the article at A Voice for Men, that highlights some of the key problems with the whole report, but I want to address a slightly different issue.


The report links men’s suicide rate to masculinity and identifies that as a problem. Masculinity, or the idea of “manliness” is a destructive force in society that must be eradicated, thereby “solving” the male suicide problem. If men could just stop being men, they wouldn’t feel the need to kill themselves.

More accurately, they wouldn’t be so good at it.

That’s what I want to talk about.

While men commit suicide more often, women ATTEMPT suicide in greater numbers.


Once again, men are better at identifying a problem, isolating a solution, and carrying through. Part of that has to do with the fact that women attempt suicide as a cry for help. When the weight of their lives becomes too great to bear, they cry out for help.

save me

Save me, please.

I am in no way suggesting that women do not feel the same kind of despair or pain or emotional agony as men, but rather that they respond to that by seeking help in the form of “attempted suicide”. Women surrender themselves to the idea that their lives are out of control and they cannot manage anymore, and they take actions to ensure that someone will notice their pain and intervene.

Men take a completely different approach.

They identify a problem:

my life has become unbearable.

They isolate a solution:


They carry it out.


In the case of suicide, the results are maddeningly, saddeningly tragic. The fact that so many suicides occur amongst veterans is even more heartrending. More men have died by suicide than combat in the recent conflict in the Middle East. Soldiers, who risked their lives to carry out our government’s mandates (whether we agree with that mandate or not), who went at OUR BIDDING, return to confront pain so profound, they take their own lives.


This is a crisis not in masculinity, but in health care. Self-inflicted gunshots are a major and almost always lethal threat to men’s health. The idea that we should address this crisis by identifying masculinity as a problem is laughably, tragically stupid.

Men identify a problem, isolate a solution and carry through. With resounding and incontrovertible success, in most cases. Every single piece of technology, every tool, every device, every object or service we have in our modern world is a result of someone identifying a problem, isolating a solution and carrying through.

Those “someones” are almost always men.



Seeing masculinity as a threat, and something that needs to be undermined is a strategy guaranteed to take us back to the dark ages. It’s nihilism, pure and simple. The death of our culture.

The correct strategy to address the tragedy of male suicide is to intervene at the point that a “problem” is identified. Men who see themselves, their lives, their value, their contribution, their intrinsic worth as a human being as a “problem” ARE NOT HELPED by ideologies that define them as, yes, a problem.

I truly, deeply wonder if the researchers who wrote the report on male suicide are just blindingly stupid, or if they really do want men to die? Most suicides occur amongst middle-aged, white working  class men, the group hardest hit by dramatic changes in our economies and culture. Their jobs have been outsourced, their families have disintegrated, their livelihoods have disappeared and their ability to get the job done is no longer the machine that drives our society.

They’re not particularly useful, are they?


Oh, but they’re good at one thing: dying.

I usually try to end my posts with some smart-ass comment that mocks whatever it is I’m talking about, but today I just can’t do that.

All I really want to do is cry. I wish I could find every man sitting in a room with a loaded gun, wondering if anyone would even notice if he pulled the trigger and tell him:

I would. I would notice. Please don’t. The problem is not you. The problem is not that you’re a man. The problem is a world that has decided you’re useless. A world that exists BECAUSE of men, finding solutions to problems. It’s what men do. They solve problems.

Don’t solve this problem. Not this way.

Please don’t.

Lots of love,


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