Rob Ford and Toxic Masculinity

“Consider for a moment if a woman sharing Ford’s documented track record of physical aggression would ever have been elected Mayor of a major city. More likely she would have long ago been perceived as “unhinged” and cast out of the leadership pool in her chosen field. Yet we laud – or at least will grudgingly accept – this behaviour from a man, so much so that we elect him to a prime position of public trust. His impulsive expressions of anger are part of what endears him to so many as a ‘regular guy,’ one they could ‘have a few pops with.’ Boys will be boys, right?

If we want more gender diversity in politics, we need to understand that a) a good politician can come equipped with a wide variety of character traits, not all of them about cutthroat aggression and cold calculation, and b) there is immense diversity within genders and no trait is “naturally” masculine or feminine – we choose to understand and value traits in these binary ways, and if we want to, we can choose to change that.”

by Steph Guthrie (@amirightfolks)

Violent temper. Refusal to admit wrongdoing. Penchant for expressing every feeling as anger. Penchant for expressing anger through physical intimidation. Homophobia and transphobia. Impulsive, risky behaviour with no consideration of potential consequences. Obsession with the competitive parts of politics (campaigning) and disdain for the collaborative parts. “Boys will be boys” brand excuses for egregious behaviour. Yup. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sure is winning at Toxic Masculinity Bingo.

This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about Rob Ford’s embodiment of the socially-constructed norms that shape and constrain our culture’s understanding of what it means to Be A Man. I thought about it a lot after the Mayor violently confronted journalist Daniel Dale on the property adjacent to his home, fist cocked and charging at full speed.

I thought about it after reports quoted him calling Liberal Party of Canada leader Justin Trudeau a homophobic slur. And when…

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A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

Really important work – sign and pass around. Enough arguing over who defines who is a woman. Let’s take the hate out of radical feminism.


We are proud to present a collective statement that is, to our knowledge (and we would love to be wrong about this) the first of its kind.  In this post you’ll find a statement of feminist solidarity with trans* rights, signed by feminists/womanists from all over the world.  It is currently signed by 790 individuals and 60 organizations from 41 countries.

The statement can be found here in English. It is also available in French, Hungarian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian and Serbo-Croatian.

The complete list of individual signatories is available here, or alphabetically or by country. The signatory list of organisations and groups is available here. We would love it if you signed it too. You can either use this form, or email us, or post a comment on this post or on the statement.

Our continued thanks to everyone for your support.

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Some thoughts in defense of “Schadenford”

Hear hear! Let Charlie Demers soothe your troubled conscience.


We on the Left are pretty good at finding both good and bad reasons to make a point of standing apart from what the crowd seems to be feeling. The response to Russell Brand, for instance, was split among those who wanted to cheer a mainstream comedian raising the spectre of “Revolution” to apparently massive public interest on the one hand, and, on the other, those who wanted to focus on the very real political problems with Brand himself. Incidentally, I thought this piece in New Statesmen did a pretty good job of walking the line.

Here in Canada, there’ve been those who want to make a point of standing apart from the Rob Ford dogpile. Some of them do it out of self-righteousness — “tut-tutters,” as they’ve been nicely characterized on the Twitter feed of TV writer and producer Adam Barken. Others, though, are doing it from the…

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Activists Frack Christy Clark’s House

Utah Phillips once said, ‘The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.’


VANCOUVER, UNCEDED COAST SALISH TERRITORY – On Sunday morning, activists with Rising Tide-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories set up a 15-foot mock fracking rig on Premier Christy Clark’s lawn and announcing that “Because the Premier loves fracking, we figured we would save her the hassle of trying to take over other peoples’ homes and bring it right to her!” says Jacquelyn Fraser, an activist with the group.

“We are just so worried about all the water that is being used and polluted in northeastern B.C. for fracking. We are sure Premier Clark is too and we’re sure she can share some of her own supply so that she can see the boom in the industry she keeps promoting,” says Fraser as ‘construction workers’ set up the rig behind her. “She may not end up with a lot of fresh water at the end, but at least she has some we could use right now.”

The group is referring to the impacts on the environment caused by hydraulic fracturing, a process through which water, sand, and chemicals are injected into the ground to fracture rock and release unconventional natural gas.

“With Christy Clark touring North America to promote Liquiefied Natural Gas, fracking and gas extractionis set to take over the province,” says Maryam Adrangi, Climate and Energy Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

Both Rising Tide and Council of Canadians toured up to northern B.C. to speak with communities impacted by fracking and fracking pipelines, such as the Pacific Trails Pipeline. Numerous families said that shortly after fracking began in the region, they were no longer able to drink their tap water and the water burned their children’s skin.

“There are over 23,419 operating fracking wells in the region and another 4,000 which are abandoned. We shouldn’t make communities up north face all the burden,” said Adrangi jokingly. “In all seriousness, no one should have to face the impacts of fracking which include having all of their freshwater being used by industry and for coporate profit, and then having unidentified, toxic chemicals put back into the water cycle.”

The group also noted the serious climate impacts of fracking, as more studies indicate that fracked gas can produce as much emissions as coal.

Christy Clark has been strongly encouraging the province’s future in the fossil fuel industry, with a meeting with Alberta Premier Alison Redford on Tuesday to discuss the infamous Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal as she just returned from a North American tour to promote Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).