Mansplainer #8: My Relationship With Race – “It’s Complicated”

Tal Fortgang’s uninformed screed “Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege” has been making the rounds on social media this past week and apparently causing quite the furore. There already have been several well informed take-downs that articulately dissect and refute his arguments much more clearly and directly than I ever could. But there’s one aspect of Tal’s piece that I’d like to address that I think has been largely glossed over or just not delved into.

You see, Tal isn’t white.


Now before I clarify, let me just assure you that I’m in no way trying to claim that Tal doesn’t benefit from white privilege. Or male privilege. Or any privileges. He does. So do I. He’s just clearly very confused about the concept of “whiteness” and how he fits in to it.

Tal, I hear you bro. I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. Well, not Princeton. But I’ve been in a place where I didn’t understand what “whiteness” was and how that affected me. I didn’t understand the concept of race and had trouble navigating the conflicting messages I was bombarded with in culture, media, and academia. You see, Tal, just like you, I’m also Jewish. And just like you, my skin is pretty white looking. In the summer it gets a little more olive, but stick me in a room full of white people, and I’ll blend right in (more on that later).

Being Jewish can be confusing. We’re told it’s a race. It’s also a religion. “White” is also a race. And we’re also told that we’re white. Until we’re not. We’re told a lot of conflicting things. We’re caught between our understanding of identity and our historical and present oppression.
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An Open Letter To Molly Alexander

– Version française en bas. –

Molly Alexander is the candidate with Quebec Solidaire in my local riding of Saint-Henri Sainte-Anne, running for a seat in the National Assembly in the upcoming Quebec election. If you share these views, I encourage you to write a letter to your own candidate, or feel free to use this one as a template. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dear Ms. Alexander,

I am a constituent in the riding in which you are running as a candidate representing Quebec Solidaire, and I am writing to share my views with you on an issue that is of importance to me.

I would like to begin by stating that I am glad to have a candidate on my ballot whose views and politics so closely resemble mine, and who is both open to feedback and informed on matters that concern the advancement of our society. You are very much a progressive and a critical thinker – two qualities that I value in political representatives – and there isn’t a candidate who I would rather see represent me and my fellow constituents in the National Assembly.

Regretfully, your party has adopted a policy which is of grave concern to me. Following the recommendations of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, Quebec Solidaire’s platform includes a proposal to ban the wearing of religious icons of civil servants in positions of coercive authority (this would include police). I understand that this was the topic of heated debate, and the decision reached by the party is not supported unanimously. However, religious expression is a fundamental freedom and I consider it to be extremely troubling that the party would even consider that this is something that can be voted on. Continue reading

I haven’t forgotten you.

A thought has been entering my mind with increasing frequency these past few months, which is “geez, I haven’t posted to my blog in a while.” 

Yup. My website’s gotten a little out of date. No new posts, songs, comics, etc. which contrasts the flurry of activity that followed the redesign of this site. 

I have my reasons. My reasons are valid. And I don’t feel bad about this. But, in case you’re wondering, I feel that now might be a decent time to shed some light. 

When I redesigned my site, and focused my energies on writing and creating on-line content, it was at a time where I didn’t have the flexibility in my life to be productive in ways that meant leaving the house. With a few notable exceptions, at the start of 2013 I drastically reduced the number of performances and projects I was involved in. So I devoted my time and attention to writing and blogging, two things I enjoy deeply, and find very gratifying.

I’ve since regained some of the liberties that have allowed me to engage in projects that are more tangible in nature, and rely less on sitting in front of my computer and typing. And with this shift, I let the website take a back seat and go on a slight hiatus. 

All this to say, the site is not dead. I will continue to write and post and share my thoughts, with varying degrees of frequency depending on how much time and energy the “real life” projects take up. 

So stay tuned, and see you on the interwebs. Or maybe IRL. 

Mansplainer #7: Guest Blogger – Kelly Bennett


feminismI can’t oppress a group in power. Oppression is prejudice+power. There’s no reverse racism, there’s no misandry. There’s no oppressive, systematic, institutionalized force against white, straight dudes.

No one is trying to subjugate men. Like, seriously. We’re trying to get them to listen, for fucking once, instead of getting butthurt when they do something offensive and for once someone calls them on it.

Bro, you’ve had the entire world at your feet; so yeah, admit you might have fucked up, deal with the fact that we’re angry, and move on. Instead of going ‘omg don’t get mad at me’ try going ‘well, shit. why are you mad at me? hm. i’ll think about that.’
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Mansplainer #6: The Racialized and Gendered Impact of Quebec’s Proposed Charter of Secularism

So it’s taken engaging in a lot of dialogue on the subject Quebec’s proposed Charter of Secularism to word this cogently.

The charter is racist, and I’ll give you a deeper analysis of why that is. BUT I am seeing an unhealthy trend of Anglophones co-opting the threat of oppression to religious minorities and using it as a platform to espouse bigotry towards Francophones.


More bigotry isn’t going to solve bigotry. Religious minorities need your solidarity, not your hypocrisy.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I think I can move on and address more than just my frustration with the Anglophone rhetoric. It’s been a really stressful time for myself and some of my friends in Quebec, and I can only imagine the stress that devoutly religious people are under right now. When we’re so used to major issues being split into two camps of discussion, being caught between two groups that are yelling at each other who are both wrong can make you want to throw up.


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Mansplainer #5: Why Whovians are Upset and Why It Matters

On August 4th, 2013, the salivating masses of fanatical Whovians tuned in to the much anticipated unveiling of the Twelfth Doctor. The announcement came in the form of a live broadcast televised special hosted by Zoë Ball. I, like many salivating fanatical Whovians, tuned in with equal measures of excitement and apprehention. You see, I’ve been a dovoted fan for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of watching Tom Baker episodes at my grandmother’s house (she had cable). And as a devoted fan, the revival of the series in 2005 has sparked a resurgence in my obsessive fandom. So you get the excitement. But then there’s the apprehension.

Steven Moffat is an undeniably talented writer. His episode “Blink” is one of my favourite episodes of any series, and an accomplished stand-alone horror film in its own right. Weeping Angels creep me the heck out, to the point that, as I will include a picture of one in this post, I will never look at this post again after it’s published. Go ahead, laugh at me. Then send me a picture of a Weeping Angel just to freak me out. You won’t be the first. So we know that Moffat is capable of great writing. He’s also capable of very problematic writing.

Caption goes here.

Still a better love story than Twilight

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Star Trek TOS s01e03 Where No Man Has Gone Before


The second pilot, and first episode filmed featuring William Shatner as “James R. Kirk”, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” very nearly captures all the elements that make up Star Trek.  Noticeably absent from the mix, and to the detriment of the show’s chemistry, is Dr. Leonard McCoy whose brash demeanor and unabashed emotional displays serve to counterbalance Spock’s otherworldy logical exterior. Not to say the episode is without merit, far from it. There are some great performances and it’s far more cohesive than the first pilot under Jeffrey Hunter‘s Christopher Pike. But the episode feels incomplete. The chief medical officer in this episode is Mark Piper played by Mark Fix, a veteran of Westerns and Frontier movies. His inclusion is demonstrative of the original pitch of Star Trek as “Wagon Train” in space. His performance comes across as a ‘wise old man’ there to dish out advice to the young adventuring protagonist, but without being integral to the action, the way McCoy would prove to be time and again. He is calm and grandfatherly, much like Dr. Boyce in the first pilot. This doesn’t work on two levels. The Enterprise is on a mission of exploration. It is dangerous and they are equipped for war. Pitting this doctor as the human side of Kirk’s moral compass would be like seating a social worker next to the Captain’s chair. (No disrespect to Mirina Sirtis. Some of my best friends are social workers)

The "R." stands for "Retcon".

The “R.” stands for “Retcon”.

There’s a lot In this episode that comes across as clunky. It is obvious from the start that they were still finding their feet. Yet the episode remains a favourite for many with some iconic moments and a truly memorable villain in Gary Mitchell. While they had not yet found their feet, the foundation on which they stood was solid and they were clearly poised to create magic.

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Mansplainer #4: Guys, Stop Defending Street Harassment

There’s a conversation that’s been brewing lately. I’m not sure if it’s a conversation that’s been been getting louder and reaching a tipping point, or if I’m just getting better at listening and being more aware. The conversation is about street harassment.

On a near daily basis, I hear stories from friends about inappropriate comments and catcalls from passersby. These friends are invariably angry, upset, scared, or fed up with this perpetual demeaning treatment. These friends are exclusively women. The cat-callers are exclusively men.

When these stories come up, in the ensuing discussions, women share their similar experiences, show empathy, and discuss potential strategies for combating street harassment and improving their general safety.

Then the inevitable happens:

“Just take it as a compliment.”

“It’s only harmless flirting.”

“You should be grateful for the attention.”

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Mansplainer #3: I’m Sick of Television (and Real Life)

I’ll say it. I’m fed up.

If you’re interested in, or moderately aware of, issues of social justice, then it can be excruciatingly difficult to watch even some well crafted shows without suffering from rage-inducing cringeworthiness.

I’ve managed to enjoy 3 seasons of Game of Thrones while only occasionally puking at Daenerys Targaryen’s overt Stockholm-syndrome as she tries to learn to be a better rape victim, gratuitous and imbalanced female nudity, or the female characters (including the ones portrayed as strong) constantly being put in situations where they are rescued by men.

But the finale of Season 3, in which Daenerys fully embraces her role aswhite saviour‘, was just so distasteful, it’s making me dread Season 4.

I’m sorry, but this is just messed up.

One of these things is not like the other...

One of these things is not like the other…

[TRIGGER WARNING: Some pretty awful stuff below]

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Star Trek TOS s01e02 Charlie X

Charlie X is regarded by many to be a seminal episode of the original series. I have heard, on more than one occasion, friends state that this was their favourite episode. Upon viewing it again, I can certainly see why. The episode has a great mix of humour, suspense, and mystery, all woven around the awkwardly relatable title character who is suffering the pangs of teenage angst, hormonal urges, unconstrained omnipotence.

Most of us have been teenagers at one point, and some of us even remember our teenage years. Often fondly, through rose tinted glasses, putting aside the hardships and agony we endured in order to store up a few nostalgic memories. (Notice to teenagers: Don’t let anybody tell you it’s just a phase.)

"He's a boy in a man's body, trying to be an adult with the adolescence in him getting in the way." - Kirk

“He’s a boy in a man’s body, trying to be an adult with the adolescence in him getting in the way.” – Kirk

Being a teenager sucks. And it’s amazing. There is so much that we experience for the first time, so much to learn about the world that we don’t understand, and so much that we understand implicitly in spite of the adult world telling us that we don’t. It is a point in our lives where we stop being shaped and start to choose how to shape our own idendity. We begin to choose what lesson we learn and who we learn them from. Teenagehood is complicated and painful, and this is something D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry conveyed on a profound level.
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