Attention menfolk!

You may be operating under the assumption that a magic fairy washes your dishes, picks up your socks, mops your floor, scrubs your toilet. Or you may be operating in a state of minimal awareness, where you believe that these things do not need to be done, and that your house will nonetheless remain liveable. Also, you may be convinced that your gender makes it somehow impossible for you to see dust.

This is NOT TRUE. And if you believe these things, and you are not living in squalor, it is probably because a woman who lives with you has learned that it is easier to play magic fairy than to get you to play domestic. And -- here's news -- you're not a feminist, buddy. You're not even close.

Ask my mom, for instance. Or, ask my dad, and he'll deny it, but might just admit that I explained to him how to empty the lint trap when he was forty-seven years old, and that he then spent the next nine years in court trying to prove that my mother had never done a thing for him. Hooray for heterosexual love.


What the hell is wrong with Russell Smith?

I'm often unsettled by Russell Smith's fashion columns. There's something incredibly creepy about the way he discusses women's wear -- and really, I can't be alone in thinking so. Take his most recent column, "Footwear for slave girls is oddly appealing":

Do guys like those strappy gladiator sandals for women?There is something oddly sexy about a lower leg bound in leather straps and buckles. Perhaps it's their suggestion of confinement. Perhaps it's that they remind us of all the impossibly beautiful "slave girls" in the series Rome, or mad Cleopatra and her smoky sexuality.

The problem with so many of these elaborate harnesses is that they can get a bit gaudy - they tend so often to metallic colours, to sparkles and spikes and studs, that they can look a little bit brassy, as if to suggest that the wearer should also have a pack of menthol smokes, platinum blonde hair and her house upholstered in leopard skin.

Luckily, most Canadian men aren't as sensitive to aesthetic connotation as this. All they are going to notice really is whether your shoes are flat-heeled or high - and even this we tend to register unconsciously, as a vaguely different shape to your leg.

Now the high-heeled variety of gladiator sandals are extremely flashy, indeed overtly fetishistic; they just scream high-maintenance, expensive gifts and uninhibited sex. We will certainly notice these.

No, really. I couldn't have made this up if I tried, could I? I'm sure that Smith thinks this kind of discussion of desire is a sign of enlightenment, a sign that he has transcended his provincial small-city Canadian past. I'm sure of this because I read his columns with faithful distaste, and because I too am a Haligonian expat. Clever as Smith always obviously thinks he is, knowing where he's from I can only see his attitude as the typical smugness of an Eastern Canadian who wants to sever all connection to his once-home. So much more sensitive to aesthetics than most men? Of course! So cutting towards women who dare not dress to arouse, and so vocal in his declarations of lust for those who do? How liberated he is from the backwards bourgeoisie of Nova Scotia.

I'm sure Smith is clever; obviously he's well-read. That makes his evocation of vague Orientalized objects of desire all the more offensive, because he should know better. And it makes his discussion of women -- arousing or not -- all the more tiresome. If he's so clever and liberated, why is he so desperate to prove it?

In response to his imagined retorts:
1) I have also lived in Paris. I live in New York now. Shut up.
2) I was very badly treated in Nova Scotia through much of my youth. I was also bored senseless. I'm quite sure I know what you felt. It's still home, even if I never live there again.
3) I'm sure that you'd be appalled by my summer footwear of choice. I pick it for the arch support, not for exotic sex appeal. Whatever. I make delightful company, even if I'm not fetching drinks for bulimic men in sheets, and even if there's no chance that I'll off myself with a poison asp.



Harper, Carbon, and the G8

The CBC site is reporting the following:

As the Group of Eight summit wrapped up in northern Japan on Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it's a "mathematical certainty" that developing countries will bear the brunt of the work in lowering global greenhouse gas emissions.

His comments to reporters in the resort town of Toyako came as several developing countries reportedly balked at climate change targets proposed by the G8 countries the previous day.

The major industrial countries represented by the G8 set a goal Tuesday to halve emissions that contribute to global warming by 2050, though no international baseline year was set and the plan lacked midterm goals.

Harper said that by 2050, developed nations will likely account for no more than 20 per cent of global carbon emissions.

"So, when we say we need participation by developing countries, this is not a philosophical position. This is a mathematical certainty," he told Canadian reporters at a news conference Wednesday.

"You can't get a 50 per cent cut from 20 per cent of emissions."

1) Developed countries have spent a couple of centuries "developing" while emitting massive amounts of carbon. It's why we have the technology and industry we do today.

As the developing world catches up in terms of technology and industry, how is it that we now get to blame them for the state of the environment?

The ruling class will always try to maintain its status. That's part of what this is about: plain and simple, economic imbalance works for the developed world, and we collectively want to maintain it.

2) Way to shirk your responsibility, Harper. Regardless of what's going on in other nations, it's still incumbent upon Canada to do better. We've made commitments to reducing carbon emissions. If you're short-sighted, you might be focused on the economic undesirability of making such a change.

But, hell, I don't really know about economics. That's not what I do. Sometimes, though, you just have to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do -- not because you see a concrete long-term benefit for yourself, and people like you. I'd like to see a national leader who understands that.