Ethics of being a Pet Owner

Sometimes I really wonder why people get pets.  But only certain people.

Most people love their pets and take great care of them, and wouldn’t dream of doing anything that would cause them harm.

Most people, if there was a problem with their pet, would wonder what THEY were doing wrong to fail the pet, as it is only an animal and will act naturally.

Most people don’t find it easy to put a pet down.

It’s not the case up here, way in the North.  Many people here let the dogs stay outside in -40C temperatures. They have the frame of mind of “can always get a new one”.  Some people up here… don’t care much at all about the prospect of their animal freezing to death, or being eaten by wolves (honestly, this is something which can easily happen here).

The person I live with, I know for a fact has owned way too many pets. I wouldn’t set foot in a few houses they’ve lived in, due to a major lack of cleanliness. (Why I’m living with them? I really needed a job). Even this apartment, when I moved in (to interupt myself, she had been living in the apartment a few months), had both the dining area and the living room covered so full in boxes that you couldn’t see anything. Almost six months later and the living room is liveable, although there is still a lot of boxes, and the dining area is still piled full of boxes.

She brought a cat to this apartment with her as her partner wasn’t going to keep it in the house since the cat is young and rambunctious. I have pretty much adopted this cat, with the one exception: I was not going to clean the kitty litter unless she was gone for a week. I love this cat. I will be taking care of him next year as I look after this apartment when she’s gone for a year’s sabbatical. He’s a good cat.

Apparently, she thinks he has been peeing in the couches. Yet the smell is much more muted than the smell of his litter box. I didn’t notice it, because to me, this apartment has smelled like musty boxes since I moved in.

Her first line of thinking: that if he keeps it up she’ll have him put down.

NOT “Maybe I should change his kitty litter more often”, NOT “Maybe having the blinds open in this basement apartment where he sees the dogs peeing RIGHT OUTSIDE THE WINDOW which is next to the couches is making him nervous”, NOT “Maybe he has a UTI”, NOT “Maybe he got upset when we were both gone for the March break”.

No, the first line of thinking is that maybe he’ll have to be put down.  Currently he is being given the benefit of the doubt… and currently I am going to take over her LACK of cleaning up after him properly. If it comes down to it, I will move his litter box and food into my room and keep him in here all day.

I’m currently looking for my own apartment. I will NOT pay double the rent to take care of an apartment as a favour to her if a cat gets put down. I’m NOT going to let the cat get put down.

Don’t have a pet if you aren’t willing to tolerate things like this happening. This is why I myself haven’t had a pet in years (mostly due to having issues with kitty litter and the fact that I’ve moved around a lot). You simply don’t go “I might have to put him down” without exhausting other options first.

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Teaching Equality

Let me begin: I’m a teacher, currently teaching a grade six class. Today, I decided to teach them a lesson about Gender Stereotypes. We started by defining it (with phrasing that they could all understand, including my students with lower comprehension skills). We then did a poll about the colour pink, seeing as tomorrow our school is wearing Pink to stand up against bullying. They saw that just as many boys in the class like pink as girls, and that just as many girls don’t like the colour pink (myself included).

They weren’t surprised, which was nice to see. We talked about different phrases that they’ve heard used (you throw like a girl, man up, don’t be such a girl, etc) and about how they are insulting to both boys and girls. You could start to see a few lights dinging over a few of their heads at this point.  I then gave them a few stories and statitistics, such as how women in general earn about 77 cents to every dollar a man makes for the same job. Then they brought up how men are often in positions of power (they didn’t use those words, but the idea certainly came from one of my students) so we talked about the teaching profession: it’s dominated by female teachers, and most of the male teachers they’ve seen are Principals and Vice Principals – and they wondered how that happened and whether or not it was fair.

By this point…some of my students (male and female thankfully) were really starting to question what’s what. You could just see it in their expressions, and by what they were saying to one another. Mission accomplished? We’ll see, as we will have further discussions later on.

For now, I wanted them to do an activity. We worked together to make two lists: one which had some stereotypes about girls (things they should like, or ways they should act) and one which had stereotypes about boys (things they should like, or ways they should act).  During this, no matter how many times I pointed out to them that we were DISCUSSING stereotypes, my lovely students kept interrupting and going “I don’t like that!!” or “I like X!!!” or “My mom does X!” after someone would give an example. At one point I stopped and went “See? We can see how easily these stereotypes are wrong, you keep arguing about it and giving examples to prove how wrong they are! But just wait for a minute!” (We were getting a bit pressed for time at this point). At the same time… a few of my male students throughout the lesson had been showing definitely displays of misogyny starting (including cheering upon hearing that men often make more money and are in positions of power more often) (which, might I add, many of my other students were quick at telling them off….) which is a shame.

Once we had a short list (short because I ran out of space on the whiteboard) of stereotypes for both genders, I drew a square on the whiteboard (I had fortunately remembered to save space for this!).  I split it into 4, and in the two columns at the top I wrote “Should” and “Shouldn’t” (in the quotation marks) and along the right side in the rows I wrote DO and DON’T.  This made a chart that had four groupings: “Should” and DO (meaning the stereotypes about their gender which they consider true for themselves), “Should” and DON’T (stereotypes about their gender which do not apply to them), “Shouldn’t” and DO (meaning the stereotypes for the other gender which are true for them), “Shouldn’t” and DON’T (meaning the stereotypes for the other gender which do not apply to them). They were tasked with going through the things from the lists, along with anything else they could think of, and to fill out the chart for themselves.

As someone who likes to lead through example, I share my own chart with them. I held it up for them to see, and asked which squares I had a lot in.  Without reading my answers, they were able to identify that I had more responses in “Shouldn’t” and DO, and “Should” and DON’T. They were able to identify that that means that a lot of the things which were stereotypes about girls didn’t apply to me, and that a lot of stereotypes which fit boys, also fit me.  They also recognized that I had a lot of things in each box, and when I asked “Can you tell by looking at this paper what gender I am?” they all agreed that you couldn’t tell just by looking at how I filled the box in.  “Do I look like I fit just one of the stereotypes?” was the next question, which they were able to say no, because I had things in all the boxes.

They didn’t have enough time to complete the assignment, so we’ll see what they do by Friday. During the time that they did have though, many of them had lots of things to put into each box.

My class is not a stereotype! 🙂

The Art of the Flat-Share

I have lived with many different people. Only once has this been due to choosing to, or due to wanting to live with someone. All others have been out of necessity.

I’ll admit it: I hate it. I’m a private person at home, and I don’t want to socialize very much with people I’m forced into living with. I’m also not a partier. I’m 27 years old, and I’m sorry, but I grew up during university and I don’t wish to carry on the lifestyle. Which is what it seems a lot of people think it is, when you’re sharing a flat or a house.  Currently, I’m not in that sort of a living situation.  Currently I’m living with a family member.

Which is better you ask? I don’t honestly know. I’m going to have to say the random partiers, because living with this family member? Has resulted in me, for the first time ever, preferring the idea of living with my parents.

This particular family member, although she’s quiet and keeps to herself, is a hoarder and very condescending in her tone to me. I’m not sure if she’s aware of it. But, for the record, using a sickly sweet fake voice when telling someone else what to do? No one ever buys that.

I think, just for kicks, and because I love lists, I’m going to write down a list of all the things I get annoyed with while living with people (Let me be clear – this is not all applicable to the person I’m currently living with!)

1. Don’t go away for the weekend and leave dishes anywhere outside of your bedroom

2. Don’t bang on people’s walls or have screamingly loud parties on any night outside of Friday and Saturday – and give your roommates the courtesy of a head’s up

3. Don’t use up every single piece of any kind of dish wear – your roommates shouldn’t have to use a spoon because they cannot find a fork.

4. When sharing a fridge, do make sure that your stuff is sealed properly. No one else wants your yoghurt/sauce/leftovers/juice sticking to their food.

5. Just because you announce it to everyone whenever you do a tiny bit of cleaning, don’t expect that that means no one else has done any cleaning.

6. If you haven’t done X-chore, ever, please don’t ask someone else to do it. Chances are, they have, and you just haven’t noticed.

7. If you’re going to have a shower and take up the entire bathroom at a time that isn’t your normal time.. let your roommates know so that they have a chance to use the loo if they need to.

8. Things like the ashes of dead pets? Those do not belong in public places.

9. People are not going to clean in the exact same manner as you. And that’s ok.

10. Don’t treat roommates like they are children. They’re not. If they don’t know how to do something, they’ll ask.

11. Do your share of cleaning. If you live with one other person, and you haven’t been cleaning the bathroom every other week? Then you are not doing your share. If it’s 4 people, then that’s once a month that you should clean that washroom. It is rather simple math.

12. Communal areas are just that – communal. Not everyone wants to see your garbage.

13. When bringing someone home for the night.. please remind them that there are other people in the house and that those people are not nearly as interested in seeing that person naked as you are. And that noise can’t always be helped… but you can at least try.

14. If someone is going to visit for more than a day or so, please tell your roommate first. If they stay for a few weeks, they should help chip in a little bit – and not just be helping you. They should also be helping out your roommate, who is being much more inconvenienced as they are not friends with the unwelcome guest!

15. If someone is in the washroom (unless it’s during that aforementioned time of taking a shower during an abnormal time), don’t knock or rush them. Just go back to what you were doing and hold it. Especially during the morning when people often have a routine.

16. Don’t leave someone else’s mail in with the junk mail. Especially if you’ve put the junk mail to where all the junk mail tends to get piled up.

17. You don’t have to be best buddies. That’s alright. Just because a roommate doesn’t spend 24/7 in a communal area doesn’t mean that they don’t like you.

Ok I really tried to get to 20 as that just seemed like a nice round number… and I couldn’t. It’s usually the same few things that people do over and over and over.

In other words…. I cannot wait until the day comes that I can afford to have a place of my own. Which will happen whenever I get a position that’s not on a contract!

Overly Zealous Feminists in Gaming, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy

Second post and it’s clearly about feminism. Truth be told, this is why I started the blog. I really wanted to have this rant, and I didn’t feel like I had anywhere to rant about it.

As a female, I think it’s perfectly alright to deal with trigger issues within the fantasy and sci-fi genre. These trigger issues are often racism and sexism. The problem arises when there is no trace of criticism within the works – sure, it’s fine if X-society is male dominated, but you really should, as a writer, demonstrate through your characters that it’s not really an alright thing. Could you seriously tell me that every single character in the world you’re creating agrees with the sexism? I think not. This doesn’t mean you should include a “token” character, but you shouldn’t ignore the issue.

Let’s use George Martin’s Game of Thrones series. It’s gotten a lot of criticism and a of fans standing up for it. So excuse my indulgance, but it’s mainstream enough that it will meet my point.

There is a lot of sexism in Game of Thrones. It’s a male-dominated society and women are not treated very well. And yet, we have examples of very strong and very weak female characters. Daenerys is an excellent leader, and yes, I recognize that he depicts her showing weakness by not being ruthless. She gets criticised for staying in Meereen and not abandoning the people she has taken on as being hers. She’s viewed by many characters as weak for taking this approach, but we, as the readers, can see how she isn’t. She has her idea of what she wants in society, and she’s not compromising very much at all to get it.  I think she’s the best candidate to rule the Seven Kingdoms. She is the only one who actually cares about the people.

At the same time, we also have Arya, Ygritte, Meera Reed, Melisandra,Val, and evan Sansa Stark, who are all strong female characters. And let’s not forget the Sand Snakes. Each of them has been growing, and has rebelled against the patriarchy in some way or another.  Yes, so we have Cersei and Caitlyn and Lysa who are all idiots – but that is because they are idiots, not because they are female. The other characters critise them mostly as being stupid females, and of course they would in their society, but we can clearly see that Martin does not condemn all female characters as idiots. (For brevity’s sake, we’re going to leave the topic of racism in Game of Thrones for all the other bloggers who’ve ranted about it).  In fact, I think that Martin does an excellent job of depicting women – the men consistently underestimate them, and it will not do them well.  Even Cersei and Caitlyn were underestimated – they were expected to be obedient and when they weren’t… well… the war is pretty much all their fault! If only the men around them had taken them more seriously….

Well. Enough about Game of Thrones. THAT wasn’t even the main topic I wanted to breach.  One of my favourite webcomics, Goblins, written by Tarol Hunt. I had considered not mentioning the name of the comic, but there’s no way at all I can avoid it when I talk about this issue. (It’s an excellent comic, by the way. It’s got a lot of gore and Tarol actually makes me be ok with that….the plot and the characters has me absolutely attached to it).

Thunt isn’t afraid to tackle difficult issues in his comic. It’s based on D&D, and a lot of the comedy comes from understanding that as you read it – he uses and often flips around a lot of the stereotypes you get within D&D. As such, there aren’t very many female characters. Why? Because you don’t have nearly as many female players. At the same time, one of the main male characters we know is being played by a girl – and played well. One of the female characters is the reverse – played by a male. Now, the female character being played by a guy? Is an idiot. Thunt makes fun of the “typical” boy making a slutty female character just to be sexy. You see it in any game – the female characters are often dressed skimpy so that the guys can watch their floating boobs bounce around. Thunt doesn’t like that any more than I do, and while he has a character who behaves like that.. it’s a criticism. They are a terrible player.  Yet the male character played by a female? Is an excellent roleplayer. You wouldn’t know they were played by a female aside from the fact that it got mentioned.  Who which gender was being insulted? Male or female?

The answer my dears, was male. Thunt never insulted female characters. The closest you could get to that was the fact that the male being played by female? Isn’t nearly as bloodthirsty as you would expect a dwarf to be. And he’s a cleric. So I suppose you’ve got that stereotype – that girls are less likely to be violent gamers. Personally? I’m alright with this as much as I am alright with the silly boy who just make a character for the boobs. I prefer to think of it as the fact that maybe we ladies like to actually think before we act 😉 (I’m speaking as someone’s who ran off cliffs into a pile of monsters in an MMORPG… more than once… to be fair, this was usually due to an autofollow glitch as I was busy talking and NOT watching where I was running……)

Thunt has two main female characters within the different groups; there is Fox, and there is Kin. To put it plainly? Both kick ass. Fox attempted to defy fate; she completely rebelled against her society and has taken on adventuring levels (she is a goblin, thus a monster, and not supposed to be an adventurer). She did that on her own, without anything happening for her to decide to do that on her own (in contrast to the main group of characters, also Goblins, who’ve became adventurers to save their village and friend). She took the initiative on her own, and beyond that, she’s a Fighter class. Yes, we’ve seen her cry. We’ve seen her worry. We’ve seen her grow attached to another character. That’s alright, we’ve also seen the male characters cry, and get worried, and grow attached to other characters. Fox rocks.

Now, to Kin.  Kin is not an adventurer. Kin is a monster (a yuan-ti, half-snake half-human) who is travelling with two player characters. She had been kept as a slave by one of the main antagonists. This antagonist was evil. Tortured many many kinds of monsters (very very racist this one). He kept Kin, but tortured her in a different manner than he did the other captive monsters; he raped her. Repeatedly. Kin was naturally traumatised, and Thunt doesn’t blow this off at all. It was a serious topic and he’s treated it as such from the moment it was mentioned. The characters Kin travels with are the dwarf (the male played by female) and a stereotypical dumb fighter. Kin doesn’t want to be touched. At all. And can you believe it, the stereotypical DUMB FIGHTER, understands that you DO NOT TOUCH her. He understands that, and why. The stereotypical dumb fighter kicks the ass of the antagonist when he realises what had been done to this monster…. he recognizes how wrong it is, even though he’s killed plenty of monsters himself. He recognizes that rape is NOT acceptable no matter what.

It was years ago in his writing that Thunt first let us know what had happened to Kin, and he’s never made light of it. Kin is a strong character, who has a traditionally tragic past. Which, for anyone at all familar with roleplaying, is incredibly common. Characters often have a tragic past, but usually it involves their entire family being killed.

So…. I guess the main point is that in regards to both of these, I’ve seen the overly zealous feminists go way crazy over the top angry about them. Why? Isn’t it better to see rape being treated seriously than to see it being ignored? Isn’t it better to see the rebellion against patriarchy being done in a more realistic manner? You never see a TOTAL uprising. It gets done in phases. Personally, I find it much more believeable, compelling, and intriguing to see the beginnings of rebellion. Which is often done on a much more individual basis. In Goblins – Kin is teaching some players about tolerance and senstivity. Fox is showing other goblins that female goblins are JUST as capable of taking care of their safety.  In Game of Thrones – I wonder what the Seven Kingdoms will end up like if/when Daenerys takes over?

And so it begins

I’ve read a lot of blogs, and I am amazed with just how focused people usually are in their topics. I don’t think I’m capable of being that intensely focused on one category of issues. It’s likely why I don’t actually follow anyone’s blog. I stumble across a blogpost, read it, often read what they link to, sometimes read other posts…. and then off I wander.

So this blog, I don’t even propose to try to stick with one topic. I’m not capable of it. Within it, I expect there will be an underlying tone of feminism. Will I often write with that in mind? No, but I’ll tag it when I do. There will likely be a lot of frustration or confusion over the behaviour of others. Sometimes I might write about something geeky. Sometimes I might write about the joys and frustrations of teaching. Sometimes I might write about travels I’ve gone on in the past. Sometimes I might write about depression and anxiety. Sometimes I might about living the single life.

And I am ok with this. I don’t expect I will advertise this blog. I don’t even think I will post about it to my friends. Speaking of, they’re wonderful, but those who do write blogs and whatnot post about them quite consistently and I always ignore them. So I don’t expect that I will make a hypocrite of myself and advertise my own writing. At least not on my twitter or facebook.

Now let’s see if I end up eating my own words.