The Best Students. . .

. . . are also the most politically active ones. Today, most of the successful responsible students in my classes have pins proving that they voted in the primaries. And the more. . . erm, relaxed students had no idea there were going to be any presidential elections this year.

P.S. Students are writing tests in all of my courses today, hence the abundance of posts.

P.P.S. Why is it always the worst students who get mortally sick two hours before the midterm?

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More on Socialism and Communism

I especially love it when people start trying to educate me about the USSR.

“But there were good things in the Soviet Union,” they say.

“No, there weren’t.”

“But the medical care was great.”

“No, it was horrible and barbaric.”

“But the education was wonderful.”

“No, it was really worthless.”

“But I read in a book how the Soviet Union was good.”

“And while you were reading that book, I was actually living in that horrible system.”

I have to say that the general ignorance on the subject of the Soviet Union is daunting. I have a friend – a very intelligent, highly educated guy – who shared with me how much his friend, who is a single mother, struggles in Canada.

“She’d be treated like a hero and offered every kind of support in the Soviet Union,” he announced to me.

I almost fell off my chair because of the sheer idiocy of this statement.

And since we are talking about socialism, I wanted to mention that whenever the government begins to have a stronger control over business, goods and services immediately diminish in quantity and quality. Whenever my sister travels from Canada to the US, that’s the first thing she notices. The same kind of stores in the US carry a much wider selection and the goods are significantly cheaper than in Canada. Furniture, baby clothes, shoes – everything is much better and much cheaper in the US. I guess we all know why that is and what exactly the Canadian government is doing to squeeze the entrepreneurial spirit out of the country. (This is a very sore point for me right now, so please tread gently.)

Giving Birth? Shame on You!

It really annoys me when people bully or shame pregnant women and treat them like stupid sheep incapable of making their own decisions. Here is an example of such an attitude:

This is in addition to the shamefully high cesarean section rates of most hospitals, which carries all the risks of any major abdominal surgery.

Got it? A woman chooses a method of delivering a child that suits her best and that is shameful. I have once witnessed a woman being bullied – and I mean really bullied – as she was carted into the delivery ward by a bunch of officious, uneducated, stupid doulas who thought they knew better than this woman and her doctor what she needed to do with her body. You have to be a real jerkwad to bully a person who is on her way to give birth.

I am getting pretty damn sick of seeing women subjected to unnecessary surgery. Plastic surgery, bariatric surgery, FGM, episiotomy, c sections. It means real pain and injury, sometimes death, for women. The popularity of c-section births has a relationship to some popular anti-woman ideas.

And I’m getting pretty damn sick of people who don’t realize how disgusting and anti-woman this need to police women’s reproductive choices is. I’ve got to wonder why it is that we never see any kind of questioning of the choices men make about their bodies. Is that because, for some people, any choice that a woman makes is by definition suspect? Is that because such people simply cannot accept the idea that women have brains and can be allowed to make their own choices about their own bodies?

In North America today, you have to be a very strong and resilient woman to choose a C-section. Even people who know you very well and have no reason to suspect that you’d make such a decision lightly, immediately get into a hectoring mode whenever you mention this choice. Just the other day, I’ve been talking to a friend who’s known me for the better part of a decade. When I mentioned that, for me, an elective C-section would be my method of choice to give birth, he immediately started delivering this very didactic speech on how “natural birth is best and are you even planning to breastfeed.” In the past 8 years, there has never been a single occasion when he’d taken such a tone with me. Of course, when he saw horror on my face, he stopped and apologized profusely. (If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know what scared my friend.)

I suggest that we just shut the fuck up about how the choices that women make about their own bodies make us feel. If you believe that vaginal birth is best, then, by all means, go have one. Or fifteen, if that’s your pleasure. Just stop criticizing the choices other people make and assuming that you know best what’s good for them.

If you experience any need to criticize the delivery, pregnancy, contraception, and abortion choices of other people, you need to analyze where this deep-seated aggression towards others comes from. And if a discussion of people’s reproductive choices makes you start using words like “shameful,” the only person who needs to be ashamed is you.

Is It OK to Like Texas?

My sister has spent a week in Austin, Texas, and she loved it. So she called a friend and asked, “Is it really wrong that I like Texas?”

“Yes!” the friend responded adamantly.

My sister got so much into the whole Texas mode that she even bought little cowboy boots for her daughter. She says that the thing that struck her the most about Texas is how nice, kind, polite and relaxed the people are. She lives in Montreal, which is why the trademark American politeness surprises her.

One thing that made her uncomfortable, she says, is that everybody in the service industry is either black or Hispanic. You see the racial divide much more strongly than in Montreal.

She got so into Texas that she says she could imagine herself relocating there. I’m now very curious about Texas where I’ve never been.