Let’s make Valentine’s Day a day for everyone, instead of making singles feel miserable and inadequate | Toronto Star

Remember grade school, when everyone received a valentine? Widening the scope of this most romantic holiday could take the sting out for single people. ~Emma Teitel

I think it’s safe to say that no holiday has been looked forward to less in the history of holidays than Valentine’s Day, except maybe Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement — though I’m sure there are lovesick people out there who’d prefer fasting in a synagogue to eating their feelings in front of the TV on February 14.

Don’t believe me? V Day is apparently so distressing for some (especially those who suffer from “anuptaphobia,” the fear of being single forever) that restaurants have taken to offering food specials specifically designed not for smitten couples, but for jaded singles.

Hooters, for example, a dining establishment that doesn’t immediately jump to mind when you think about romantic love, now offers a promotion called “Shred ‘Em and Forget ‘Em,” whereby customers can bring a photo of an ex lover into the restaurant on Valentine’s Day and enlist a Hooters employee to help them “shred” said photo, after which they can redeem the tattered paper remains of their ex-beau for 10 boneless chicken wings. Unfortunately the event takes place at “participating locations” only, which is a shame, because I don’t think I can imagine anything sadder than a recently dumped, heartbroken person arriving at their local Hooters with a photo of an ex only to be told, “Sorry, that deal isn’t valid at this restaurant. No Buffalo chicken for you.” Wing-less and alone: It’s a fate I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Despite what you may have heard, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be synonymous with loneliness for people who haven’t found romantic love, because it doesn’t have to be synonymous with romantic love at all. The advantage of a Hallmark holiday with almost zero religious significance is that it’s open to re-imagination. It’s not exactly sacred.

At the risk of offending anti-PC types wary of “snowflakes,” I’d like to make the case that, in order to alleviate and maybe even put an end to the Valentine’s Day Blues, adults take an inclusive, grade-school approach to V Day, the kind of approach where everybody with a pulse gets a box of cinnamon hearts and a cheesy card. The kind of approach where you buy your wife a pair of sexy underwear, but you buy your best pal a pair of practical undies while you’re at it, and you take him out for dinner and toast to the power of friendship. Or if you’re so inclined, you take out a sibling, or a parent or a grandparent or the guy who shovels your driveway.

 Take the Valentine’s Day Quiz Here

In other words, you take a page out of the book of Glad Day, an LGBTQ bookstore and restaurant in Toronto’s Church and Wellesley Village that is offering a prix fixe pasta dinner this V Day for anybody who comes through the door, regardless of their relationship status. From the bookstore’s Facebook page: “Want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in (a) space where you won’t be judged? Not only will Glad Day be free of homophobia and transphobia — we are also a great place for you to celebrate any configuration of love! So whether it’s romantic, familial or friendship love you are celebrating, whether you are a couple, a group or solo, whether your love is something that knows no bounds . . . we are here for you.”

There is no reason Valentine’s Day, as a rule, has to make unattached people feel inadequate and miserable. This is especially true if we shift the holiday’s theme from one of strictly romantic love to one of love in general, romantic and otherwise. Will this dilute the holiday’s spirit and encourage corporations to try to sell us even more useless V-Day-themed merchandise? Absolutely. But who cares. We’re already swimming in it anyway. I might understand the impulse to curse the existence of V Day or to ignore the holiday altogether if there was any chance that loathing it and pretending it didn’t exist might actually make it cease to exist. But it’s here to stay. The best way then, to make it bearable for all, and who knows, maybe even kind of fun, is to celebrate platonic bonds on February 14 and give everybody, no matter their relationship status, the perks of unconditional love — from cinnamon hearts to boneless Buffalo chicken wings.


Source: Let’s make Valentine’s Day a day for everyone, instead of making singles feel miserable and inadequate | Toronto Star


New Research: Women Aren’t Paid Less Because They Have More Flexible Jobs

They work in low-paying jobs because they have no other choice.

A recent study shows that the global gender pay gap has increased to 32 percent, and projects that at this rate, women will have to wait another 217 years for the pay gap to close. It’s not just your own gender, but the gender makeup of your workplace that predicts your wages. Workers in female-dominated workplaces have been shown to be paid less than other workers. An industry’s pay level even starts to decrease when women take over a male-dominated field.

Some argue that the low pay for women is justified by the fact that ‘women’s work’ is generally less strenuous/hazardless work compared to men’s work, and that, in exchange for lower wages, they have better working conditions—especially those that allow a better work-life balance. Some well-meaning scholars argue that women sometimes forego higher pay to have that flexibility in their jobs—an argument sometimes extended to suggest that women voluntarily “choose” lower paying jobs to facilitate their “life choices”—read: to take care of children.

This is what I found in a recently published paper in the European Journal of Industrial Relations. Using data from across 27 European countries, I tested to see whether the gender of the worker, and the gender makeup of the workplace has an influence on workers’ access to flexible working arrangements—namely flexitime—the ability to control starting and ending times of your work. The results show that there were no significant differences between men and women in their access to flexitime across Europe—if anything men getting slightly better access. What’s more, workers in female-majority workplaces had the worst level of access to flexitime compared to their counterparts in male-majority workplaces or workplaces where men and women were equally represented.

The gap was significant: In some cases, working in female-dominated workplaces such as care work, primary education, or places where the work tends to be largely clerical meant you were only half as likely to have access to flexitime compared to other workplaces. This was the case for both men and women in those workplaces, and held true even when other factors such as skill levels, working hours, contract status, and other relevant factors were taken into account. Furthermore, female-dominated workplaces were worse off in terms of flexitime access in all of the 27 European countries investigated. It isn’t just flexitime. I also found similar results for other types of flexible working arrangements such as the ability to take time off work a couple of hours to tend to personal issues.

 This isn’t just true in Europe: Studies dating back to the 1990s using data in the U.S. found similar results. So why does this myth of women and workers in female-dominated workplaces having better access to flexible working arrangements persist, despite the facts?

One reason is because of how the debate over flexible work has been framed. Many countries, including the U.K., have introduced the right to flexible working as a major way of addressing work-family issues for workers. Thus many assume that those who are in most need of family-friendly arrangements will be those who are most likely to have access to it. Given that in all countries, women still take up the bulk of the care and household responsibilities, people think they will have better access to these arrangements.

Employers tend to provide workers control over their work when they trust and believe that will contribute back to the company rather than to skive off work. As a result, this control isrewarded only to high-skill workers in top occupations. Since society still holds rather gendered views of men and women—believing that men’s priorities lies in breadwinning while women will prioritize their family life, employers are more reluctant to provide control over work time to women, believing they will use it to care for their families rather than use it to improve their work performance.

So what does this all mean? It means that workers in female-dominated workplaces are paid less, and they are worse off in having access to family-friendly policies that enable them to maintain their careers while meeting demands at home. This may also explain why so many women have to end up working part-time when they have children—it isn’t an unfettered life choice, but precisely because other options that can help them balance work with family lifeare not available to them. They have no other option but to reduce their hours. And in many countries, including the U.S., part-time work is usually accompanied by, you guessed it, lower pay.

A good example comes from a friend who had an administrative job in a predominantly female department. Despite the fact that her work could be done anywhere and any time, her boss would not let her work from home especially if it had anything to do with childcare reasons. This is despite within the same company, in other departments where it wasn’t quite female dominated, working from home was much more easily granted.

What can we do to change this? The example of the U.K. shows that the introduction of right to request flexible working alone does not help to enable flexible working access to workers, especially those who need it most. Employers need to see the vast benefits flexible workingcan provide to their company through recruiting and maintaining their workforce.

Read more…
Source: Why women get less flexibility and lower wages.

Elephants never forget… Tales from Brandiland


“A hunch that you are the sum of those incidents only you can testify to, whose existence without you, would have no earthly acknowledgement” – Barbara Gowdy “The White Bone”

First of all, if you have never read this book, go read it right now. I should warn you that it is based entirely on the perspective of elephants…that’s right, the life and times of elephants. The beauty and syncronicity with people is astounding and breath taking. It was one of the novels I never got over. This is one of my favourite quotes and I came upon it cleaning out an old drawer as I have so many times over the years. It always makes me pause and really consider the weight of these words. Our time here on earth is measured and recorded by those we spend time with. Who we are, the impact we have had, the value of our lives is wrapped up snugly with the company we keep. I, myself, am a testament to the people I love and care about. I am also a testament to the ungodly events that have shaped me as much as the triumphs. It is a big responsibility when you examine it, being the story teller for so much and so many. I have blogged on here previously about my best friend and her relationship both to myself and others – this account becoming a part of who she is and how she she will be remembered. When we are gone, these stories will be the thing that says we ever existed. Our legacy. When you think about the enormity of that, it skips a heart beat in me. Our time here is so limited, our accomplishments become more and more limited as we make decisions and level setbacks and tragedies. There is often a saying that goes: You are only limited by your own mind. But I take some exception to that being that this theory I am evolving is that our minds and our lives are very much wrapped up in other minds and lives and that these concurrent connections can often be the limits we set on behalf of the well being or otherwise of people we hang out with.

The tributes of our lives can be both a gift and a burden. I have accepted since I was young the moniker of caregiver, soul saver, sacrificer, beast of burden. Bring me your dead and your dying…I’ll take all of them. I seem to have no ability to turn away the most bleak of souls; In fact, I often prefer their company. I think there is something beautiful about the metamorphosis of tragedy. Staying along side of someone who has been shot by horrific circumstances and their journey through open bleeding wounds to scarred impunity. Sweet freedom from ignorance. The ability to see all the colours of pain and emotional brevity – like childbirth, we forget and dare to live again with a subtle or sometimes not so subtle limp that presses us against all the other living injured. How not to impact people in negative ways? How not to fall prey to the selfish indignation that says we deserve more, better? What a delicate balance to be storied as brave or heroic or kind or helpful. As often as I have been claimed this, I have been equally described as cold or uncaring. My defensive wounds coming to light. But to ignore them, to ignore the creeping defences of others is almost ludacris – like inviting the evil in. You can only hope to meet your match in tragedies and scar tissue that you might have a chance of treading together in a way that does not constantly rip the wounds wide open again. And have what we all ultimately want…someone to tell the stories about you that you hope will be your memory, your earthly existence.

I wrote recently about my Grandmother, another story of existence. We had a strong bond her and I – we shared a great love of unique jewellery, beautiful clothes, books and flirting. She was fancy and I admired her. The way she never let a bad day stand in the way of a well put together outfit and some lipstick. When my Grandmother passed, she still had a tube of lipstick in her bra, in case a visitor stopped by, she could apply a pinch of colour. Even as she was dying, she was fancy, because she loved it and people loved that about her. And I tell that story about her because it wraps up for me the link we had while she was here. Her earthly existence was wrapped up in ball gowns she let me gingerly try on and feel against my cheek every Sunday. The stories she told me about every one and the feelings she experienced in and out of them. She told me once, I was just like her, and I remember thinking it was the nicest compliment I had ever received. I think that stands to this day and I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to be the bubbly and entertaining woman she was, to recreate the feeling she brought into a room with her smile and wit. Our stories build on stories and then some. I would never be what I am without her being who she was. A cousin once told me she didn’t know our Grandmother very well, couldn’t really tell you very much about her. I gasped as if she had slapped my face. How did she not know the kind and generous woman I had grown up with? How could someone be telling the story of my Grandmother so differently? These woven tapestries we create as we live are made exactly of that…stories as different as the colours of fabric sewn together with seemingly no connection. But it is presented simply as one long blanket of experience. Our legacies.

In the White Bone, Barbara Gowdy details the lives and deaths of elephants who have long been held to show intense bonds and protectiveness of each other parallel to humans. The above quote refers to the death of one of the elephants and the how the herd must process it, grieve it and move on. It is a heart wrenching passage. It reminds me that nothing on this planet is removed from the circle of life and that we are simply one passage in the story of everything. Humbling. But it keeps me mindful of what I want my passage to read when I’m gone and how I will have to live my life to achieve that. Mostly, that is all we will get as time passes and less and less people who knew us in the flesh are present – one line. I would like it to be one that isn’t easily forgotten.

Elephants never forget….

My personal space was Crown land

I’ve been told all of my youth to relax and chill out; don’t let the actions of others stress you out. I’ve avoided conflict and confrontation as much as I possibly could. It became a quest.  I became an artist, and alternative health practitioner because of this I believe.

I remember in a college class auction saving  all my chips to buy Inner Peace, while my classmates were bidding on imaginary sport cars, houses and millions of dollars.  I had it all figured out – if you had inner peace then who needed all the other stuff.  Two things to note here – “INNER” and all the other stuff.  I figured a sure and steady route would be to maintain an air of peace outwardly and work on the inside until they met in the middle. I’m sure you can guess how that has turned out.  First off the world doesn’t care how peaceful you are – it wants your money and your subservience.
Somewhere along the line that “Inner” thing becomes an issue to others on the outside.

One side of that is that your outward peaceful is counted as indifference to others. Most people are unfamiliar with inner peace you see. This may in fact piss them off more than inspire them to calm down.  The other side  is people may be doing loads to wreck that peace because all they see is your placid face not freaking out.  This signals them that you’re okay with everything happening to and around you. Try maintaining that  inner peace then!

What happens is that you keep all that resentment and your truths inside then they come rushing out when there’s no more room and you can’t take it anymore.  That is greeted by surprise from those who pissed you off in first place with “Why are you sooo aggressive?”  The answer in my head of course is – I’m not. I didn’t shout. I simply wanted to be heard. I got heard alright, but still not sure I got understood.

A very good friend of mine heard me, and respects me enough to tell me what she sees; apparently I lack some boundaries.  I’m guessing my acceptance of people and their foibles indicates to the world exactly where my boundaries lie…. I live on Crown Land – everyone is allowed in as long as they don’t poach the wildlife.   But even Crown land comes with signs stating the rules.  I love my friend, she has given me a clue. I need to make some signs!!!

We live in a world where kindness has become equated with weakness.  We are reduced to less than strong if we choose not to fight or quarrel over what in essence are small issues. We may choose to lead by example; by being able to adapt to the shifting emotions of others with a level response hoping that our outward cool and acceptance will foster reciprocal action.  The problems occur when a society is deeply entrenched in me first philosophy. Somewhere along the line we translated personal freedom and empowerment into entitlement take what you want, look out for yourself and let everyone else figure it out. we’re constantly given the message that we’re entitled to the whole enchilada. We’ve transmuted inner health into outer bravado. Respect no longer begets respect. Might makes right wrong.

While my “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you”  is noble in thought, it is unsuccessful in application in my current incarnation. I am learning how to paint my signs with color, light and indelible ink. I’m still wary of conflict and not too down with confrontation so I’m going to use my “healer” skills for preventative medicine (the most effective kind) instead. My first patient is me.