Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Furor Over Fluid

I had planned to stay away from this one as far as The Tickle Trunk was concerned but it's become so huge that I just feel we need to say something. For anyone who hasn't looked at facebook, the internet in general, or touched a newspaper in the past two days, there has been an ongoing media frenzy about an ad campaign launched some time ago by Fluid hair salon in Edmonton. The campaign features women in violent and dangerous situations with fabulous hair and the tag line 'Look Good in All You Do'.

I'm not going to get into the comments that have been made about it or the salon's response to the outcry. Those things are available for view in various places all over the internet. I just want to say a few things about how the Tickle Trunk responds to this.

Fluid is our neighbor. They are across the alley from us. They operate within our community and serve our customers, our neighbors and community. We want to cultivate good relationships among our neighbors and are therefore loathe to criticize. We understand that we all work very hard at our businesses and that we face many challenges as small business owners. I do feel for what Sarah, the owner of Fluid is going through right now with such a huge unexpected firestorm of controversy around her. This could devastate her business and for that I am very sorry.

However, I am disturbed by the campaign. I want to see our community rally together against violence, particularly in light of some of the terrible violent incidents that have happened here, not make light of them. Various people have said the campaign, especially the image that has been all over facebook and the internet, could be interpreted in lots of different ways but it's quite clear what the intention was and how most people are interpreting it. Most people perceive it to say that getting beat up is something that's pretty common for women so hey, you might as well look fabulous while it happens. That's just not okay with me. I don't think violence against women, or against anyone, is acceptable, commonplace, amusing, or something that should be used to sell goods or services.

So as much as we love and support the businesses in Old Strathcona, and especially East Whyte where we are, The Tickle Trunk and I are not okay with this campaign. But we understand that business owners make mistakes. We've certainly made a bunch of them ourselves. When we find that we've done something that hurts our community, we seek to apologize and repair the damage. Our hope is that the owner of Fluid will accept that she made an error in judgement with this campaign. That even though it may not have been their intention, Fluid has offended and hurt their customers and their community with this message and campaign. We hope they will apologize and stop running ads that trivialize or glorify violence. And we hope that if and when they do apologize and change their advertising, we will all support them by using their services. This is how we grow responsible and respectful communities.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Restrictive Abortion Laws do Not Lower Abortion Rates

Just wanted to post a link to this article on RH Reality Check about abortion rhetoric in the USA. The stats cited come mostly from the states but they are backed up with stats from Canada and other countries. It seems when abortion is legal and affordable, abortion rates are actually lower than when it's not. This is important information for Canadians. We may think this doesn't concern us here as abortion is legal in Canada, but access to abortion is still difficult or impossible in most parts of the country. The writer of this article, Dr. Jen Gunter, states that abortion is free in Canada. This is not always true. It is covered by provincial health cares plans but if a woman is living out of her province of birth and does not have coverage in the province she lives in, she will have a difficult time getting the service covered. As well, many women in Canada need to travel to get an abortion - only those living in the largest cities in the country have ready access. This is a significant cost. I realize this is not the same cost as having to cover the procedure yourself, but I just want to clarify that it's not exactly 'free'.

Here's the article

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One of These Things is Just Like The Other

I was browsing toy catalogs today, as I do quite a bit and came across these two toys by California Exotics.

Can you see the difference between them? Neither could I. There are two differences. The one on the left is CalExotics brand pump. The one on the right is the Laura Berman pump, made by California Exotics but with Laura Bermans name on the package. The other difference is the price. The first retails for $39.99. The second for $56.99. Yes, Laura Berman's name on this product costs an extra $17.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Still the Same Old Story - Horrible Advertising that Makes Women Feel Like Shit About Themselves

I was thrilled to hear the other day that L'Oreal got their fingers smacked for dishonest advertising. It's about time! The Advertising Standards Agency has ruled that the photographs of Julia Roberts' and Christy Turlington's faces in recent ads constitutes exaggerated and misleading claims. Turns out that beautiful complexion was not achieved by L'Oreal foundation - no, it was done by airbrushing. It's nice to see someone finally standing up and saying, 'no, that foundation will never ever make you look like Julia Roberts does in that picture because Julia Roberts doesn't even look like that - and it's not okay to make women think that she does'. I think all of us know this somewhere in the backs of our brains. We look at that smooth bright skin with not a pore to be seen and we know it can't be real. But after seeing this so many times, doesn't it sink in just a bit? Don't we, on some level, think that's what beautiful looks like? I would love for this to become a trend so that we can start seeing what normal, actual faces look like - but then maybe we wouldn't feel such a need for the makeup.

Summer's Eve is at it again too. I know a lot of people will have seen the 'Hail to the V' videos (the one with the talking hand pretending to be a vulva) because those got a lot of attention and even made it onto the Colbert Report. But I'm not talking about that hot mess. The mess that I'm talking about is the other 'Hail to the V' commercial - not the talking hand one. This one shows clips of women and men through history (supposedly), over heroic, dramatic music the narration says 'It's the cradle of life, it's the centre of civilization, over the ages and throughout the world, men have fought for it, battled for it, even died for it. One might say it's the most powerful thing on Earth." Then it cuts to a modern day women in a grocery store with a bottle of Summer's Eve wash and the narration says "So come on ladies, show it a little love." Sigh........

Okay, one could merely pass this off as mildly amusing or ridiculous, which it is, but really, I've had just about enough of this shit. I am so sick and tired of being told how amazing and incredible and strong I am as a woman and then told that I need to buy something because of it. Really, come on now. 'Your vulva is the cradle of civilization and the most powerful thing on Earth.' This is a great sentiment. And it's true - women are the ones who have the babies, we are the ones who actually bear life out of our own bodies. That is amazing and powerful. But what on God's Green Earth does that have to do with smelly pussy wash that we don't really need? 'You're amazing now wash your stinky vulva.' It's insulting and I'm tired of it. What we really need to hear instead is ' Your vulva is the most powerful thing on earth, it is unique and beautiful and it does not need to be cut or changed or shaped surgically to fit some unrealistic ideal. Your vulva is the cradle of civilization, it smells exactly as it should and does not need douches and perfumes. Your vulva is amazing so take care of it and make sure that it's healthy and happy by using dams and condoms when you need to, picking out contraception that makes sense for your health, and seeing your doctor regularly.' Using Summer's Eve is not showing your amazing vulva any love - it is actually bad for you. Strong fragrances such as are present in Summer's Eve can lead to allergic reactions and infections. That is not love, it's just wrong.

I am so sick of marketers trying to subvert our feminist and sexual revolution and turn it into an advertising message. Trust me, Summer's Eve has not one single thing to do with your sexual power - it's the exact opposite.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Whatever happened to objective journalism?

There is so much more to be said, but this will be my last post about this NewsWeek thing. There's so many other things going on in the world that it's time to leave this alone for now. It will rear its ugly head in some other form soon I'm sure.

So another piece of this sad NewsWeek article is the utter lack of journalistic integrity displayed. Here are the things that really boil my potatoes about the way this thing was written.

First, there is a very obvious bias in it but Leslie Bennetts, the author, fails to declare it. This is under the 'U.S. News' heading. It is not an editorial. It is not labeled as an opinion piece. But it is actually an anti-prostitution diatribe that uses the 'just published findings' of this 'study' as the tiny little hook it needs to call itself news. Bennetts and NewsWeek should be honest that this is an opinion piece instead of trying to portray it as fact.

Second, holy lack of citations batman! Supposed facts are stated everywhere in this article with not so much as one single citation of where these 'facts' were pulled from. It is littered with the phrases 'estimates suggest', 'common estimates state' and 'leading experts suggest'. Wow, that's pretty darn precise Bennett! Whose estimates are these and how did they arrive at them. And exactly who are these leading experts. This is the big one 'The most common estimates, oft-repeated by major media, suggest that 100,000 to 300,000 children are trafficked in the United States every year.' That sounds very scary. But does it make any sense at all? In 2008, there were just over 8.5 million people under 20 years of age living in the United States. So by this estimate anywhere from 1% to over 4% of the young people in the USA are trafficked into the sex trade. Really? How can this possibly be true. We can't ask because Bennett can't tell us who actually came up with that estimate. Marty Klein can, he says the figure was first presented by University of Pennsylvania Professors - but there's so much more to it that Bennett doesn't explain. Here's a bit from Marty Klein's article in Psychology Today:

"When University of Pennsylvania professors Richard Estes and Neil Weiner invented the figure "100,000-300,000," they weren't referring to ACTUAL prostitution or trafficking; they said the numbers 'estimate the number of children AT RISK for commercial sexual exploitation.' And who's 'at risk?'Almost everyone except Beaver Cleaver: loners, female gang members, kids who run away for 24 hours, transgender kids, kids who live near international borders, and others. In response to a recent Village Voice interview, Estes says 'kids who are kidnapped and sold into slavery? That number would be very small...a few hundred people.' American law enforcement officials estimate the figure is less than 1,000."

Anyone with a few basic math skills can tell you that there a big difference between 300,000 and 1000. Is there no responsibility on the author of this thing to back up her claims?

Third - presenting this horrible piece of propaganda as a legitimate study in the first place shows an utter lack of either investigative journalism or journalistic integrity or both. It's pretty clear that Bennetts didn't even read Farley's study, because the article makes claims that even the study doesn't make. Beyond that, any real journalist should be scratching the surface of this thing, finding out who funded it, what their bias was, what their methods were, and what the actual results were before just taking all of these salacious sound bites to press. It get attention for sure, but it causes a panic and furor about something that isn't really even happening - at least not in the way that Farley and Bennetts claim it is.

All right - time to move on to other things, like why Summer's Eve and L'Oreal suck.