Tuesday, April 23, 2013

John Baird stop making it so easy

Today there was an article about foreign policy and Canada, which of course included a photo of the illustrious John Baird.

I couldn't help myself.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A little bit of "Third World", please.

Contributor: Tasia Alexopoulos

The Toronto Star ran a knee-jerk piece on the Temporary Foreign Workers program this morning. Written by Haroon Siddiqui, the article is an example of the critiques being levelled against the journalism industry right now. Zero research, bombastic argument, and stereotyping all thrown into one sloppy page filler: journalism!

In "Stop importing temporary foreign workers into Canada" Siddiqui makes a pretty bold argument with little to no evidence supporting it. Considering the ramifications of what he's suggesting, I think it deserves a second look. 

Third World? In Canada? Ew.

The Temporary Foreign Worker program, Siddiqui argues, has allowed the creation of a "Third World" in Canada. Let's just set aside for a moment that most people don't use the term "Third World" anymore, historically and politically the term isn't useful -- it describes a particular moment in time (the Cold War era) and its usage encourages stark black and white divisions. It's boring, it's not complex, and it completely ignores social and economic intricacies within nations. Actually, Siddiqui's article is a perfect demonstration of why the term isn't used as often anymore. What does it mean to  create a little "Third World" in Canada? Siddiqui doesn't bother to explain (journalism!) what these Third World conditions look like and he just repeats that jobs are being taken from Canadians and given to Temporary Foreign Workers.

Colloquially,  the term Third World is often used to describe   ‘underdeveloped’/over-exploited geopolitical entities, i.e. countries, regions, even continents; and to refer to oppressed nationalities from these world areas who are now resident in ‘developed’ First World" (Cheryl Johnson-Odim). So does Siddiqui mean that Canada is just letting in too many non-Canadians? Or, does he mean that the Program is creating Third World like conditions in Canada? Is he living in some kind of fantasy land where Canada is perfect? Is the introduction of too many "aliens" upsetting the precarious Canadian ecosystem? How about the fact that really shitty conditions already exist in Canada? Maybe Siddiqui hasn't heard this idea about a "Fourth World", a term applied to populations or areas that live in conditions that are sub-par to say the least, conditions that could be considered "Third World in the First World"(hierarchy, super fun). This is often used to discuss child poverty, under served neighborhoods in cities, Reserves, or certain rural areas. Conditions on Reserves and Northern communities, in particular, have been a source of humiliation for Canada on the international scene. Child poverty and well-being is not great for a "rich" country (recently rated 17 out of 29 in a UNICEF report). Women are still likely to make less than men in the same jobs, despite pay equity law. Labour casualization is rampant, which often means no benefits for workers and no job security. The number of working poor is rising. Are these conditions really made worse by Temporary Foreign Workers? If so, how? You can't just make crazy claims like this and not back them up.

All Siddiqui provides to support his claim is that there are too many jobs and too many unemployed Canadians and somehow that is Third World-ish. This seems to be the level of his rhetoric:

Mad, mad skills.

Siddiqui clearly did not do his research. I'm amazed this article crossed an Editors desk and they were like "yeah, sounds great buddy!" It's not great and it is riddled with inaccuracies. According to Siddiqui, Temporary Foreign Workers are "brought in ostensibly because of extensive skilled labour shortages" and he goes on to point out that of the approximate 338'000 TFWs in Canada, 44'745 are in accommodations and food services. He writes "That's your foreign worker pouring coffee at Tim Horton's, baking pizzas at Boston Pizza, making beds at some motel and tending to a senior citizen somewhere... How much skill do you need for such jobs?"

No. No. No. First of all, that is rude. Really? How much skill do you need for such jobs? Has Siddiqui ever worked in the service industry? Of course you need skill for those jobs. What, because those of us who work in the service industry aren't writing for illustrious The Toronto Star we aren't skilled? After reading Siddiqui's article I'd guess that journalists for the Toronto Star don't need skill, either.  Second, there are four different skill levels in the TFW program and those who work in the service industry are considered low-skill workers.

If the Toronto Star and Haroon Siddiqui were at all interested in accuracy they might have looked into the Program and discovered that workers are classified as Agricultural Workers, Live in Caregivers, Lower-skilled Occupations, and Higher Skilled Occupations.  So high skilled workers are not brought to Canada to serve pizza. These people are often highly skilled, many having University educations and professional training, but they are classified as low skilled workers because of the occupations available to them. The Program defines them as low or high skilled, but not all jobs are considered skilled as Siddiqui seems to be asserting.

He continues that "the real issue is that Canadians don’t want those jobs, certainly not at the wages on offer" and that the "skills shortage mantra is a bit of a scam." Give this guy some kind of big award, he just solved the mystery of the TFW Program! Investigative Journalism!  Hurray! Rounds of applause.

Really? Some Canadians don't want to work in certain jobs? This isn't a new thought and actually this is kind of the impetus for the Program to begin with. Some jobs are not desirable. Some jobs don't provide enough flexibility. Some jobs have exceptionally high turn over rates. Siddiqui writes that there are six jobless Canadians for every available job, but what about businesses that are desperate for workers? Let's take a step back from the Boston Pizzas and the RBCs. There are small businesses that depend on Temporary Foreign Workers and who pay them the same wages as Canadians. What does Siddiqui say to those people who would have to close their business without these workers? Well, he doesn't say anything because apparently journalism is all about presenting one side of an incredible complex and nuanced story. He says: Third World! They're taking our jobs! GRRRRR! Shut it down! 

Shut that shit down

What would be the best solution to the problem? As the headline reads: we should stop "importing" Temporary Foreign Workers,  "Ottawa should end the temporary worker program — forthwith — and forbid businesses from paying 15 per cent less to those already here."

That is stupid. I'm sorry, but it's just plain idiocy. You cannot shut down the TFW Program. The logistics alone are mind boggling. The businesses, the workers, what happens to everyone? They just.. leave? Who is going to pick your locally grown tomatoes in Leamington, Ontario(watch the film El Contrato, if you haven't already)?  What we can do is insist that the Program be less exploitative. What Siddiqui could have done was look at the historical, political, social and economic reasons for the existence of such a Program. He could consider the major question "who benefits?" Almost 400'000(documented) workers who have less rights than "Canadian" workers, who can be paid less, who can be housed poorly, who are extremely vulnerable to abuse, and who have very little chance of remaining permanently in Canada? That has to benefit someone. There is obviously a need for workers, skilled and otherwise, but there is a greater need for security and permanence. Make it harder to abuse the system. Yes, forbid businesses from paying foreign workers less money. Increase regulation. Inspect housing. Crack down on Agents who exploit vulnerable people for their own gain. Canada could go ahead and sign the The UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. In fact, Canada could be one of the first migrant-receiving State to sign the convention.

Canada shouldn't toss out the Program, it should realize what an incredible embarrassment it is and work to make it better and more equitable. Why are people coming to Canada to work uncertain jobs in potentially horrible conditions? As a nation, Canada has a hand in creating the circumstances in other countries that make it necessary for people to leave to find employment.

Stop being idiots, maybe.

In conclusion, the solution isn't to write some ill-researched and misleading article about shutting down a Program that can't be shut down. The solution is to be thoughtful. The solution is so think about how we can make human lives better, without penalizing them. Less sanctimonious bullshit, more careful consideration. Unfortunately, careful consideration is something that seems to be sorely lacking in the media.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The horrible reasons Jonathan Kay feels compelled to "explain" rape

Contributor: Tasia Alexopoulos

Jonathan Kay, Gender Expert Extraordinaire.
Jonathan Kay is a name I associate with many things: "feminist" is not one of them. This morning while I was scrolling through Twitter I was surprised to see that an article he had written about rape was being circulated by smart, feminist peoples. Unless I really want to subject myself to bigotry, idiocy, and a far-right politic that terrifies me I generally ignore Kay's work (this ban also applies to his mother, Barbara Kay).

"The many horrible reasons why men rape women"  encapsulates why I ignore Kay's work and why I think the National Post is ridiculous for giving him a platform. There is no point of his article, he is barely making an argument, and he's using anecdotal evidence to make sweeping generalizations about rape and sexual violence.

Apparently being at a famous party where someone was raped makes Jonathan Kay an expert on the issue. The infamous Zeta Psi assault was a galvanizing event and, certainly, an important moment on the Canadian political landscape in terms of how we understand and view assault. It raised questions about the culture of sexual violence and rape on campuses, the silencing of victims, and the shortcomings of the justice system.  It was not, however, an isolated incident nor are incidents like it uncommon today. What I find offensive about Kay's piece is that he refuses to contextualize this moment in time, he doesn't refer to any of the work done around it (including the personal voice of the woman he discusses who has written about her own experience), and he seems to think that having a cursory knowledge of it gives him a unique view on the general topic of sexual violence.

Careful to point out that the victim admitted she was "too drunk" to know how she arrived at the location of her assault but remembered details from the actual assault, Kay discusses how no charges were laid due to "questions about the reliability of the victim's recollections of that alcohol-soaked night. As well, according to Kay, "this was the era before cell phones and so there was no hard evidence." Does Jonathan Kay realize that there have been successful rape prosecutions without photo and video evidence? There are other kinds of evidence but at the time (and now) the most important evidence of all, a woman's own recollection of what happened, was ignored and discounted. Had Kay done any research at all on rape/assault cases he might see a distinct pattern of ignoring women's voices, invalidating them, claiming they were too drunk/too slutty/too scantily clad, accusations of story changes, improper collection of evidence, and police insensitivity when it comes to "proving" allegations of assault. It is never as simple as there not being "evidence" to support a charge. In fact, women's difficulties within the justice system was a keystone of this case but rather than even doing a cursory Google search or paying lip service to this Kay trusted that his own personal opinion and recollection was enough.

Kay goes on to discuss the motivations of the perpetrator (there were three and others watching, but he focuses on one). In the mind of the accused, what he did was a "sort of lurid sexual theatre for his pals," "he was quite giddy during the incident, acting as a sort of sexual emcee for the others... he'd treated the whole thing as a show and at the time seemed delighted by the attention." So, because a rapist is "giddy" during the act or enjoys the attention it garners him, he doesn't realize that what he is doing is wrong? Or that him appearing to enjoy himself means that the act is not really rape because it's not really about power or violence? I'm so confused. What appears to be a point is forming here, but it's so convoluted that I can barely understand it. The man, writes Kay, was not popular. Before he became "sexually infamous" everyone in the fraternity already knew that letting him in was a mistake, which he knew. Ok.. so does being unpopular make someone more likely to be become a violent gang rapist? Is that what he's getting at here?   As far as Kay "can tell" the motivation behind the rape wasn't sex or violence but was a "desperate attempt to bond with higher status peers through the collaborative humiliation of someone helpless." The collaborative humiliation of someone helpless sounds a lot like violence to me. Proving that one views women as objects also seems like violence to me, violence that stems from a culture that sustains itself on privilege and entitlement. What Kay doesn't seem to understand is that even if this guy was raping someone to make his frat brothers like him more it is still violence and still a wielding of power. It is a product of systemic misogyny and sexism. There are people who are actual experts on this type of thing, maybe Kay could have supplemented his bizarre expoundings upon the nature of rape with some actual facts.

Kay concludes with some ask and answer: "Is rape sex? Yes. Is it violence? Yes. A criminal pathology, a product of booze and incapacity, perversion, sadism, an expression of dominance, a bonding agent for mobs, a means for dumb men to climb within hierarchies of other dumb men? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Rape can be any twisted combination of those things, which is why the crime is so tragically common, and so difficult to eradicate. It is also why the concept of rape can’t be reduced to mere slogans about sex and power. It’s much more complicated than that."

Who is reducing the concept of rape to mere slogans? What is the point of this article?!?! And, actually, rape is not sex. Rape is rape. Sex is sex. Kay simultaneously borrows from feminist rhetoric on sexual violence while spitting on it, offering no solutions.

This coming from a man who publicly berated anyone who had the audacity to connect the Montreal Massacre with sexism, misogyny, and violence against women. Writing the Massacre off as having "no larger social or political message at play [as just a] horrible tragedy that symbolizes nothing more than our inability to prevent bad things from happening to good people," Kay not only tightened his blinders in terms of the power  of social inequalities but also did so at the expense of the women who were murdered that day by a man who was a self professed woman hater. Jonathan Kay is correct when he says this problem is complicated and difficult to eradicate but it's not because rape is a nuanced thing. If we refuse to target the root of the issue, the systemic sexism and misogyny that operate at every level of our society, then how can we ever hope to eradicate symptoms of such inequality?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bladerunner and the double edged sword of "disability"

Contributor: Tasia Alexopoulos

I'm not going to mince words: Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Let's just be honest for five minutes and admit that he most likely murdered her like tens of thousands of people murder their domestic partners every single day. Women are most likely to meet an untimely demise at the hands of their intimate partner, this is a fact. I imagine that pro athletes have an increased rate of domestic violence considering their predilection for certain hormonal treatments that increase their rage and control issues(testimony today revealed that Pistorius was allegedly shooting testosterone). Sure, maybe that's a generalization, but in a world where most women have experienced violence at the hands of a loved one I'm just going to go ahead and generalize away.

I just think it's bullshit that you'd wake up in the middle of the night, partner out of bed, sounds in the bathroom and think "oh my god, there's a burglar in the bathroom!" Don't you think that if you figured a burglar had broken in your first thought would be "where is my girlfriend? Is she in danger?" Not if you're the Blade Runner. If you're the Blade Runner you whip out your 9mm and shoot blindly into a closed, locked door. Then later on you sob about how sorry you are and how much you loved her. Well, you didn't love her enough to call out her name when you thought there was an intruder in your home.

The trajectory of the bullets showed the gun was fired pointing down and from a height which conflicts with Pistorius' account of shooting up at the mystery intruder from the ground because he was without his artificial legs. Because he wasn't on his legs he felt "vulnerable." When you're feeling vulnerable you shoot wildly into the night, not caring who you might hit with your errant bullets! This is where I think the case gets incredibly interesting: if Pistorius was an "able bodied" athlete would his defense be using the vulnerability argument? I just really don't think it would be the same if they were like "OJ Simpson was feeling so vulnerable you guys, he was so vulnerable he didn't even think of what he was doing!" "Chris Benoit and Mark Rogowski were just feeling so terrified!" No. We don't say those things in the media about "regular" men. We talk about their rage. Their anger. How uncontrollable they are. Those are masculine characteristics and after wading through report after report of men killing their partners I haven't found a single one that said he did it because he was scared she was a burglar. In fact, masculine passion use to be considered a viable defense in a case where a man killed his partner. Seriously.

It's ridiculous. Pistorius is a world class athlete. He ran at the Olympics. This guy is fitter and more confident than most people in the world. Feeling vulnerable in his gated community, in his mansion? That is crazy. It is absolutely insanely crazy. The only reason that the defense is saying he felt scared is because he is a double amputee. His defense is using Ableism to convince the world that he didn't murder his girlfriend. They're using the argument that he is suddenly "less than" to say that fear made him shoot without thinking. Despite the fact that, even without his artificial legs, Pistorius could probably take down a burglar they are telling the world that we should pity him.

Well, we shouldn't pity him. We shouldn't think of him any differently. He is a man accused of shooting his girlfriend to death while she sat on the toilet in their home. A more pertinent question would be: if Pistorius was really so paranoid of a burglar that he would shoot madly like that, what the fuck is wrong with him? Instead of being swayed by the vulnerability argument why don't we look at statistics, at the world, at every single piece of evidence that points to the fact that Pistorius probably killed his girlfriend as part of a larger pattern of domestic violence.  Let's not ignore that women are most unsafe in their own homes.  Guess what: dudes without legs are capable of domestic violence too and of murder, even murders of beautiful law students who deserved much better.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Girls are dumb and need instructions on how to enjoy everything.

Today the New York Rangers (that is a hockey team, in case any GIRLS are reading) posted an unfortunate article via twitter. A Girls Guide to Watching the Rangers was a little puff piece about how girls can pretend to enjoy sports, for the sake of the men around them because only men watch sports. No, really: "when having either guy friends, brothers, boyfriends or husbands in your life watching games in any sport becomes unavoidable." Besides this being a terribly written sentence, it's also really stupid. I get it, some ladies do not like sports. Sports are traditionally a "male" thing and this has more to do with gender stereotypes (and also historical laws that banned ladies from going into the public to do things like watch sports) than it does with being endowed at birth with some kind of magical appreciation for sports just because you have a penis. Some men do not enjoy sports,some women love sports, this whole idea of "girls" needing to learn about sports and how to be acceptable whilst spectating is just so boring.

The author, Mirna Mandil (how can it be offensive when it's written by a girl?! Girls can't do sexism!) came up with the idea for the piece after being at a house where football watching was taking place. The men, she says, were there for the game. The women women were there for the deep fried turkey.  She could have sat and watched the game, but she doesn't care about foot ball "nor does [she] pretend to." Faking an "alpha male obsession" is exhausting. But that isn't going to stop her from telling other girls how to pretend to like watching sports!

She goes on to say that the NHL lockout caused a lot of excitement in the "male world" and was comparable to either a "70% off sale" to ladies. So, to help ladies understand what the end of the lockout means she says we should think about how we would feel if "the premier of the newest season of Girls being delayed by months" and suddenly it's coming back!! Oh my God, I totally get it now(this is what girls and women are supposed to say at this point, but they don't because it's stupid). Even if you don't understand the game, you don't understand what's happening in your man's mind, and even if you're bored as shit watching hockey or football Mirna is going to "help you understand
obsession, enthusiasm and passion, and help you hold your own during game nights."

THANK YOU LADY! Girls, obviously, don't understand anything unless we can see it in Guide format and our learning potential increases exponentially when there are slide show photos involved.

I'm not going to go through every point she wrote and rip it to shreds, because the article was taken down and I think that's enough embarassment for her for one day. What I'm more interested in is this idea that women should "pretend" to like sports and should schedule their lives around men who like sports. Also, women do like sports, so probably we don't have to fake liking it. Women also "understand" things. It's like explaining how to breath. We have this basic instinctual capacity that allows us to interact with other humans in appropriate ways, mostly, and this allows us ladies to partake in a night of sports watching without having to do weird things like "ask all the right questions at the exact right moment."

In case you doubt the veracity of my claims, I copied the text and it's also still available here.

Living: you're doing it wrong!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Good grief, more of this shit?

Sometimes the lack of actual thought in this world seriously baffles me. Yesterday the Huffington Post published an article about former MP Ujjal Dosanjh, who tweeted about the horrific gang rape in India. Dosanjh tweeted the following:

"Absurd 2blame female dress 4 rape. If men unable 2control penises, they shud have them removed

 He went on to say (the Huff Post didn't cite where he said this) that "Obviously this issue is much broader and wider than the Indian case. Usually men blame women for the way they dress and I just wanted to put it succinctly to show the absurdity of the position."

I agree with half of what Dosanjh says, the half about women not being responsible for their assaults. What I don't agree with, and what makes me incredibly angry, is that people are having emotional knee-jerk reactions to this rape and they're saying things that are not only untrue but completely dangerous to the progress women and men have made when it comes to perceptions of sexual assault. The Huffington Post's tweet about their own article called Dosanjh's statement "bold" and I saw multiple retweets that applauded his sentiment. I understand the impulse to wish harm upon rapists, I think it's natural and can be a really helpful coping mechanism. This is not what Dosanjh has done. This is not a bold tweet, it is an incredibly stupid and incredibly revealing tweet about how ignorant people can be.

He, like many others(especially those who have no been exposed to the daily and often extreme violence which victims of sexual assault survive), has decided to take a "stand" against sexual assault in the worst way possible. In an attempt to be "supportive" without educating himself about the issues of assault he has attributed the gang rape of the Delhi student, and all rape and sexual assault, to lust. It doesn't matter how many penises you castrate, rape and sexual assault have absolutely nothing to do with sexual desire, sexual impulses, or controlling either of those things. Rape and sexual assault are always about power and control. You can only be an ally, you can only be part of the solution, if you know what it is you're fighting against. We aren't fighting against men who can't control their dicks. We're fighting against the GLOBAL inequality of women that leads to men feeling entitled to the control and denigration of women's bodies. It's a fight against people wielding power and control over women, men, and children not for bodily pleasure but because they feel entitled to the position that inflicting that kind of hurt puts them in. Castrating a rapist doesn't address systemic inequality. Castrating a rapist doesn't take into account that his penis has nothing to do with the crime.

This specific instance of idiocy is a great example of the way reactions have been pouring out in the media, facebook, twitter etc about this case of rape.It is a horrible crime, unimaginable to some. But the fact is that for some people it is all too imaginable, and not just in India. The Huffington Post article goes on to say that it in India it is "common for women to be blamed for sexual assaults, which in turns means few report it to authorities. Those who do find police often do not take their cases seriously. Politicians and decision makers in India regularly suggest that women should not go out at night or wear "provocative" clothes."

This statement could be said for any country in the world, at any time. Remember how Slutwalk started? When a Toronto Police Officer told women not to dress like sluts if they didn't want to be raped? This isn't an uncommon sentiment and the idea that women "ask for it" is not a rare response to sexual assault. Not so long ago it was legal to rape your wife in Canada because the law recognized a woman's husband as her master. What about the Christie Pits groper this summer? What did the police tell us? They told us to be alert, dress a certain way, don't go out after a certain hour etc etc. Mayor Rob Ford's niece tweeted that women should not dress like a slut if they don't want to be groped.  All things women need to do to protect themselves and "not ask for it." Women in Canada and the U.S also don't report their rapes and assaults because, guess what? Cops often don't believe them and the trauma of having to try to get police to believe you is sometimes too much for someone to bear. It isn't as easy as going to the police station, reporting your rape, and the bad person goes away. You have to give statement after statement, you have to describe what you were wearing, how they took it off, how they hurt you. Then you have to do it all over again in court. Then your rapist gets like two years in prison. In a perfect world where racism, sexism, and classism didn't exist everyone would report their assaults. In a world where there is so much inequality and so much discrimination it makes perfect sense to me that people choose to keep their assaults out of the justice system. The justice system in Canada, the U.S,  and India all have one thing in common: they are not designed for the comfort and security of victims of assault and rape and they have all been built on sexist assumptions and stereotypes.

After the Delhi rape a woman was gang raped in Thunder Bay and left for dead. So where are the tweets about that from our politicians? Where is the outrage? How dare a former MP of BC tweet something so ill-informed about rape when he used to represent a province famous for the murder and rape of indigenous women, which was essentially allowed to continue for years because authorities didn't care about the victims? This is not support for rape victims. This is not support for progressive legislation. This is emotion unfocused and set upon a world that doesn't need any more muddled ideas about sexual violence.

So let's just stop it with the "things are so bad in India" thing because we all know things are just as bad here. Let's also stop going with our gut reaction: you may wish your rapist had his penis cut off to punish him, but the idea that castration could stop rape perpetuates misconceptions we can no longer afford. Let's stop applauding every man or politician who turns their noses up at the Indian Gang Rape and calls for change while they totally ignore all other violence against women, all over the world.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Because you can be anything Barbie can be!

Barbie is an interesting figure. Yes, she's weird and blonde and has a torturously perfect body but she's also come a very long way from the first Barbie. I won't lie, I played with Barbie as a child and our Barbies had a lot of outfits and accessories, cars and houses. It was fun to play with Barbie. Now Barbie has a lot of different careers, she comes in different colours (not sizes..), and so she's supposedly supposed to encourage young ladies everywhere to be whatever they want to be because if Barbie can, so can they.

Barbie, I'm sure, has had some questionable careers over the years but when I saw this certain career path I was a bit surprised. Apparently there is a "Splash and Spin Dolphin Trainer Barbie" available.

I guess I was surprised by the complete and total lack of subtlety involved. This isn't just like "hey kids, you can be a "Dr." or a "Lawyer" it's " look how much fun it is to be dolphin trainer!" A dolphin trainer? Who encourages their children to be dolphin trainers? I don't get it. I'll get to the morals and ethics of it later but first, let's look at the product details.  

"Your Daughter can Pretend to Be a Professional Dolphin Trainer." Your daughter can be pretend to be a dolphin trainer, but God help you if your boy wants to play with this toy. This thing is so geared towards girls:  "dolls and accessories let girls play out different roles and "try on" fabulous careers, including professional dolphin trainer."  Girls don't just get to pretend to be a dolphin trainer, they get to be "stylish" while they're at it: "Barbie doll knows how to make a fashion splash! She wears a sparkly pink wetsuit and matching pink flippers, so she always looks stylish while twirling in the water!"  And Barbie doesn't just "swim" with the "pretty pink dolphins" she spins with them too! "Girls will love playing out all the training..in the bathtub or pool!" 

The toy makes swimming with and training wild animals sound like so much fun, so safe, and so cuuuuuuuuute!!! In reality, dolphin training is just not cute at all. Dolphins, whales, and seals held in captivity for human entertainment are not "happy" nor are they even "cute" most of the time since they're usually sick, fatigued, and depressed. Maybe in the Product Details they should be more realistic: "Your daughter will love trying to force dolphins to come up for air while they're trying to commit suicide! Dolphins are voluntary breathers and often try to kill themselves by sinking to the bottom of the pool because they're so miserable so Barbie has an extra sparkly outfit for such occasions!!" "Your little girl will love withholding food from her animals to force them to do unnatural tricks on command so a corporation can make huge amounts of money!" Or, maybe "your daughter will have the time of her life escaping gigantic killer whales that try to hold Barbie under the water and kill her, then thrash her lifeless body around like a..doll!" Does this Barbie come with a kit for masturbating whales, which is essential for the perpetuation of the billion dollar breeding program for killer whales? Because if you're really seriously about letting your girl become a dolphin trainer she should probably be aware of the perks that will come with her "fabulous" new job.

Every single parent who buys their child this toy should have to sit through a mandatory viewing of "The Cove." Dolphins in captivity are often caught in the wild and a major source of captive dolphins are captured in Taiji, Japan during the annual dolphin slaughter. Animal "trainers" from around the world come to Taiji to pick out the "prettiest" and most show able specimens while they ignore the hideous and cruel slaughter around them.   It's annoying when toys reinforce gender stereotypes but it's more annoying when toys are encouraging children to enter a career by misrepresenting it. If Mattel were honest, this is what the Barbie Dolphin Trainer would really look like: 

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