Language is evolving- Are you?

The push back over gender neutral pronouns: another absurd reason to divide us.

Pronoun images-page-0

Language is evolving 

There’s been some discussion, and I dare say some push back around gender and gender-neutral pronouns lately. Notably, a University of Toronto professor who is generally admired has taken up the cause of fighting back against a students right to choose the pronouns used to address them. Jordan Peterson has been making the rounds in Ontario Universities to discuss a lot more than pronouns. He has been driven out by protests at McMaster and then hailed as a hero the very next day in a visit to Western University in the uber conservative London, Ontario. Who knew that an issue like pronouns would make a celebrity, both loved and reviled out of a man with some controversial ideas on the subject. It’s worth noting of course, that the man at the centre of this storm was born into a pronoun that happens to fit him. He does not carry the burden of having been born in the wrong body. He doesn’t live with the judgements and criticism that gender fluid and trans people face. He has never had to experience the troubling questions from people who insist on identifying him as one gender when he is another-or worse, who criticize him for amending that identity, insisting he needs to identify as the erroneous gender assigned in utero. He faces none of those issues and yet he has stepped up to speak to this issue as an expert. 

Language is changing. The complexity of our understanding, awareness and language is changing quickly. And some of us are digging our heels in, declaring “this is where I draw the line”. “That’s just silly, why should we need to start changing the English language! What next? Soon we will have 500 names for types of people”

Well, yes. 

With any luck, that will happen. 

When we dig our heels in, we are really saying “I’m not capable of understanding more than two categories. I am not ready to take my understanding of my fellow humans to a deeper capacity than that”.  It’s truly unfortunate given the scope of capabilities of our species. THIS is where we draw the line? War continues, poverty is flourishing, violence against each other is only escalating-and this is a sticking point? It’s positively primitive.

I imagine a time 200 years from now when our understanding of ourselves, and our worlds, and our moons and stars is significantly more advanced. I imagine the people and how they will reflect on “that time we thought there were only two types of humans”. It is with deeper understand of things like the gender and sexual spectrums (separately); the learning spectrum (the Autism spectrum included); the personality dimensions; and so many other factors that we begin to have a deeper sense of ourselves and even, our purpose. We will marvel about that time in history when we whined that we simply couldn’t bare anymore change. Not to our language. Not to our understanding. Millions of us just sat down on our hands in protest like toddlers, defying nap time. We were overwhelmed. It was just too much for us. 

We pouted and refused to accept change. 

We didn’t want to start the new school. 

We dug in our heels like we knew better than all the reasons that had brought us to this point in time, this time of change. The weak became fearful. The weak became vocal.

I hear you when you say “I just don’t wanna know what you do in your bedroom” (you really don’t, and we’ve no desire to share so you can let that go).

I hear you when you say “he or she should be enough. Just pick one. I won’t say ‘they'”.

What you miss is that it’s not an English game. It’s not an annoying poke to mess with you. In fact, it’s not even about you. It is a deeper understanding. An understanding of how we see each other, and of how we attempt to force others to see as we do. Expectation and imposition. Disappointment and domination. Why is it so hard for us to just learn something new?

Such fear of change we have. It is a deep fear. It is also deeply arrogant to assume some power over change. Change is a constant. And we are but small. We do not guide it, no matter how foolishly we cling to this idea. Remember when gay marriage rights were being debated and the crazies said “what next- we will have people marrying animals and children”? Well, this is that. It’s a ridiculous fear. A red herring. The refusal to acknowledge a shift in understanding, and acceptance, is still just fear. It rubs us the wrong way. Maybe it scares us. Mostly, it doesn’t even affect us. It does, however, make a world of difference for the person who has asked you to acknowledge this difference. This is not unlike the fight I’ve had with friends over “pansexual” vs “bisexual” and their absolute, steadfast refusal to understand the difference-which is actually very clear if you truly understand there are realities beyond cis-male and cis-female -to know there is a difference. (Dang it, we just got used to bisexual, we don’t want to accept there are more possibilities!). There have always been more possibilities. Let this not be the time we clung to our ignorance. The butterfly effect is strong around this issue. At a time when the United States is pushing back against the forward movement of trans rights and recongitions, and global violence against trans people is escalating (these events are not without connection), if you are stomping your foot about addressing someone in the way they have requested, then shame on you for your obstinate attitude.  You need only understand that a person who has braved the process of change from one outward gender appearance to another, sometimes doesn’t feel like they can fairly identify as either. If we are to stop forcing people to live with mis-assigned gender, we ought to allow them to drop the labels that pull them back. Frankly, it’s none of our business how people want to be identified, but it’s only courteous to respect it.

If the worse case scenario is that we continually change our language…that we continually shifted our labels…that we continually have a deeper understanding of how we, as humans,  are both different and similar-

How could that be wrong?

Instead of arguing “it’s just a label”, remember “it’s just a label”.


“Mom, does Santa hate poor people?”


“Mom, is Santa Claus real?”

As parents, as  purveyors of Christmas, we have all been asked. We all have an answer prepared.

There is a pact among parents. An unspoken arrangement. The magical spirit of Santa is our responsibility to maintain. We take our task very seriously- it is not about the gifts and the accolades- it’s about the magical spirit of Christmas and good deeds done long ago. So good were they, that we all signed up, with nary a second thought – to keep this legend going, generation after generation.
I am an Atheist, raised in an Agnostic household. For us, celebrating Christmas has never been religious in nature. It has been always been a time to see family we hardly knew (but all made a priority this one time of year), it has been about enjoying our favourite foods, spending time together, and creating an opportunity for joy, simply “because”. With Christmas culture all around us, signals received from our earliest recollection, we sort of get swept up into the chaos of Christmas without ever considering our reasoning. I would suggest this is also true for Christians, whose high holiday happens to fall on the Winter Solstice – an event I see every reason to celebrate. So much was Christmas a part of my childhood that I never even considered not celebrating it with my own children. I wanted them to experience the wonder of magic. I dreamt of how excited they would be descending the stairs…I forgot the burning question I had struggled with as a child from a poor family at Christmas, and of course, when I began the tradition I never expected to be raising a poor family at Christmas.

Their Christmases would OF COURSE be off the charts! I would spoil them and love them and shower them with whatever they coveted on Christmas morning. This is so much easier to do when they are 3.
Then real life happened.
At first we were a traditional family with two kids and two parents. Christmas was very traditionally red, green and white. My husband was particularly swept up in the spirit of the season and we were always the first to put up our Christmas tree and lights, and the last to take them down. We struggled a great deal financially in those early years, and Christmas became representative of a time of great stress. I could feel it approaching like the rhythm of wild buffalo. I braced myself. Every year we did the same thing. We made lists and plans. We got excited. We started to panic about money. We begged and borrowed to survive the financial assault of Christmas, because “it wasn’t the kids fault we can’t really afford this stuff”. And every year we struggled, crawled, and barely breathed until the tax return allowed us to clear off some debt and get back to the shallow end of the red. Of course, this also meant that we could never use that money to get ahead, or do anything useful, when we were always living one year behind our means.
When the kids were 3 and 7, separation became our reality. The financial hell of two, became the burden of one. For many years I fought to make those Christmases seem normal by continuing the pattern. I had practically no credit left and worked a  middle of the night job to accommodate the needs of my kids. I began skipping bills and making payment plans and essentially drowning myself for the already depressing months of January, February and March, where luckily, winter itself brought mercy from some of my collectors.
As my kids were growing up and developing more complicated awareness – so too, were other kids. Where “what did you get for Christmas?” was once answered enviably with “a toboggan” or “skates” they now heard things like “$1000!” ,“A 50” TV for my room!”. You see, this pact among parents and grandparents alike, this quiet indoctrination into the retail Christmas world, comes with no Mission Statement. There are no guidelines, rules or even limits. This means that this Universal idea that we are selling…this tradition intended to bring joy to our children, is sometimes their first realization that society lives out of balance. I remember being so thrilled after Christmas when I was a child. Excited to get back to school and see all my school friends-none of whom lived in my neighbourhood. I travelled to attend, and many of my peers came from affluence. I didn’t totally know it then, but I was starting to understand. I remember rattling off my list of rewards from Santa and being surprised to hear how Jamie got a trip to Disneyworld from Santa.
“Wow!” I thought. “I wonder how much better at “being good” Jamie is, and how can I replicate that for next year??” Now I was lucky enough to be spoiled at Christmas. Just like myself, my single mother wheeled and dealed and managed to fit as many presents as she could under that tree. I loved them all. But I was sure I might be doing something wrong to earn socks and pyjamas rather than that coveted Disney trip! And Jamie had already been to Disney! Somehow none of this particular piece of the Holiday charade remained fresh in my memory…Until it became the experience of my children.
In our household the tradition was always that there was one, big amazing gift, always from Santa. There might be many, but the biggest and best and most desired presents, came with a special tag, handmade by Santa himself, prepared with special wrap, and easily identified year after year. The rest of the gifts came from other family members, Mom, the dog, the cat, a brother. The glory was always reserved for Santa. In recent years I found myself breaking under the pressure to win smiles with presents.

Last year I accepted that Christmas-Day-gift-opening was the most I could accomplish. I passed on the larger family gathering altogether, practically sick under the weight of my inability to participate. With Christmas in two households, it was easy to skip casually over the subject of Grandma’s house and say “We will do it after Christmas”. Which was the plan, but it never happened. It didn’t happen because, of course, January, February and March….well, those are drowning months. The past three Christmases have been spent in quiet tears once my boys have left to share a more lucrative Christmas at their Dad’s house. My failure to keep up my part of the pact, weighed heavily on me.
So when I was tucking my son in to bed last week, and he said to me “Do you want to know what I want Santa to bring for Christmas?” I had no idea that the gig was about to be up. “Tell me” I said.
Well, my 11 year old son is a gamer and what he would most like for Christmas is a very fancy, high speed computer with graphic capabilities and processing speeds far beyond the hand-me-down desktop in our house. I told him “that seems like a very expensive gift to ask for. I don’t think that’s going to be possible. Even Santa has limits”.
Except, he knows someone who got that system from Santa.
He knows it can be done.
He asks me in a quiet voice “Does this mean that you are Santa Mom? Because you don’t have enough money?” and there in the darkness, I took a deep breath……
“Well, in a way I am Santa. And because you are asking me to tell you the truth and I value your trust in me, I will tell you the Christmas secret. A long time ago, there really was this amazing guy. But he was just a guy. He was mortal and he died…But because he was so wonderful, they Sainted him and all the parents in the world decided to create a pact to celebrate the magical spirit of this great guy who had died. And every year, we celebrate his generosity by carrying out the same acts that he carried out”.
He was silent for some time.
“Honey, do you have any questions?”
“Well, I guess that makes more sense. You know, us being kind of poor and all”
….and there it was.
I explained how relieved I was that he was now old enough to know the magical secret of Christmas and how badly I felt when I worried he would think Santa didn’t know how good he had been in some of those leaner years. He suddenly understood that despite us not having money, I had somehow still managed all those gifts. His guilt upon understanding this nearly killed me. In the end, it was exactly that fact that brought this annual mystery crashing down. He got quiet again. For what felt like forever he remained with his back to me. Pensive. Sad.
“Did you eat the cookies, too?”
“Yes baby, I did.”

With that he rolled towards me and gently placed his arm around me.
“Thanks Mom”.
His voice was sad. I was sad. The magical part of Christmas was no longer alive in our house now that its’
youngest member had been given the truth. We both fell asleep heavy with those thoughts.
The next morning, my son was his regular self as though no conversation had transpired. If anything, he seemed lighter, carefree. I began to realize all the things that would be better now that we had this piece of truth between us. I would no longer have to break my neck trying to achieve the impossible – both kids know that we don’t have money to throw around. We will celebrate the way we always have, but with a more grounded set of expectations and appreciation. We have planned to exchange handmade gifts with nieces and grandparents this year, as we did when I was a child on more than one occasion- also by necessity. Gone are the confused questions a child asks himself about why Santa seemed so much more generous to people with bigger houses. No more was there a sense of mistrust around Christmas.
Do I regret that I instilled this tradition in my kids? No. I regret that I did it so freely without any clear thought or plan. I regret that I didn’t start focusing long ago on our family’s unique reasons to celebrate each other, separate from pretty trees and Elves on shelves…

As usual I will find a way to put gifts in boxes this year. We will decorate the house as we always have. My youngest son will still screech with delight over at least one thing under the tree this year and it will come addressed with a handmade tag, like it always has. Even so, I think his greatest gift this year will be the liberation from comparison that Christmas encourages amongst our kids. He has told me he wants to get a job. He wants to help me by paying some bills. He doesn’t want me to feel worried all the time. Instead of breaking down in tears at his words, instead of allowing the guilt of failure to swallow me, I realize this:
Compassion is his gift to me this year.
I bask in the warm feeling of knowing that my son is a caring person. I can’t ask for more than that. My oldest seems shocked when I inform him “the little one knows”.
“You told him the secret Mom?” We share a quiet look, and remember.
We reminisce about the moment I told him the secret. We both remember every detail. The story went much the same. His question was started with “Now I want to ask you something but you have to promise to tell me the truth. It’s important”, and so, I had informed him of the pact at only 10 years old.
While the worst part of the Holiday Blues will now be avoided, I know there are so many Moms and Dads like me. So many who will wheel and deal and sell things they cherish to keep up their part in the pact. There are so many families who are blessed with more resources than they need, who will not consider for a single moment how they create an image of Santa that the rest of the Parent Team cannot maintain. I can only hope those parents spend as much time teaching compassion as they spend dollars to demonstrate their love. This year, I hang up my red hat.With all the hats I have to wear in a day, I won’t miss it.

Pyjamazon wishes a Happy Holiday to all, however you may celebrate.

Momazon  xoxo

Why I Was Silent While Others Said “me too”.


~Guest post~

Why I was silent when others said “me too”.

Partly, I was silent because I was taking it all in. Hearing those voices all around me. Most I knew, some I did not. Seeing some bold and public male statements. Feeling the prodding questions of keyboard warriors. Absorbing it, without escape.

Partly I was silent because there are so many levels of “me too” that I didn’t know which one to describe if someone should ask. The one that will make them the most comfortable hearing? The one that will make them forever uncomfortable about me? Would I give different stories to different nosy surfers?

Partly I was silent because a great deal of masterful and painstaking self-examination had to happen to find that warm silence. I have thought about these things in circles, for decades. Reframed and re-emerged many times. I liked the place I had arrived at.

Partly, I was silent because just one day before I’d had a dream. It was a dream about a boy I knew in high school, who assaulted me the same week that he assaulted a dear friend. We were 15. It’s a weird bond we share after many years, but rarely mention. In my dream he walked right up and kissed me and I didn’t know what to do, so I just let him kiss me. I kissed him back. Then I froze. I pushed him away from me and he began to mock me.
I woke up.
I was angry at myself for failing, as one usually does in a recurring nightmare.

Partly I was silent because I am, to this day, friends with at least 20 people connected to another person from my past, who was best friends of someone I dated, a and at one time the boyfriend to a close friend of mine, with whom I had a violent sexual encounter that left me bloody. I admit I have never fully come to terms with the responsibility I had in my own foolishness and I know that makes feminists cringe. It makes me cringe. I stayed silent because until a few short years ago I was “Facebook friends” with him, until he bragged to a friend that he “had hooked up with me” back in the day. A memory so finely corked that I unravelled, when it did.

Partly I was silent because despite the fact that I should be made of fucking steel by now just a few years ago a coworker rubbed his penis right against my bum while I worked while grabbing me firmly. by the hips. Despite my warrior vibes and don’t-fuck-with-me demeanour, there it was. I feel like I’m unravelling with every hashtag. I feel that failing to speak is abandoning the movement, but speaking means that someone is going to ask. Do I say no comment, do I….

Partly I remained silent because with great pressure from my counsellor I once tried to share these stories with the man in my life. He stopped me, and asked me never to speak of it again. He could not handle it. I was on Chapter 1. Disclosure can be a real vibe killer. I’ve seen it happen.

Partly I remained silent because against my will, I was forced to suddenly line these experiences up. Like inventory. I had been assaulted 4 times before my 17th birthday. I knew all of those men. This before I’d ever entered the workplace. This before I’d ever put on a sexy dress or left the house in heels.

Partly I was silent because despite some crazy stuff that happened when I was young, I’m a 45 year old sex-positive woman who is unafraid of intimacy and sexual expression. I climbed mountains for that. I had to put down these stories to get up those mountains. They tipped me in the direction I was meant for and I’ve found peace with that- but I know many cannot. Some of people in my online world only know that girl. She is the sum of her parts, but those parts aren’t all clearly visible, by design. I’m a fucking boundary guru in my current life. I’m not sure I want to integrate those two things ever again.

Partly I was silent because internet crazes happen, and then two weeks later nobody is talking about ___________ anymore. Except now it’s out there.

Partly I was silent because I’ve spoken about some of my experiences with women, who then learned to share their experiences, and I will continue to scoot quietly behind the scenes discussing the imprint that sexual violence can leave with women who want to talk about it.

Partly I was silent because my mother can’t handle the truth.

Partly I was silent because the braggadocious, self-worshipping President of the United States is on trial for child rape and nobody is batting an eye.

Partly I was silent because I couldn’t speak.

To my involuntary sisterhood, I hear you. I applaud you. Thank you. To those people who are disappointed by those of us who didn’t raise our hashtags and join you, I understand. You do it your way. We will keep doing it ours. As long as we all move forward.



Hey #KIA, you suck and here’s why….

Dear KIA:

Ours is a classic tale of a love story gone horribly wrong. It started out to sweet. Rich with new relationship energy. I am a single mom and for many years I was confined to driving beat up old vehicles which were unreliable. I found myself repeatedly broken down by the side of the road, screaming toddlers in arms, wondering what I would do.

In 2008, it seemed my luck had changed. I walked into the KIA dealership in SARNIA, ON and purchased my first ever new car. Finally I was going to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a new car. And roadside assistance. And warranty coverage. And thank goodness for the roadside assistance and warranty ‘cause it wouldn’t take long before they would become very necessary. Several issues started early on. Most notably, my ignition would lock itself randomly and could not be unlocked. In fact, you replaced it with entirely new ignitions, twice while still under warranty – at the time I raised the question “why does this keep happening in a new car? Is there something else wrong?It doesn’t make sense!” In between replacing those ignitions, I found my car battery needed boosting several times. I was told the vehicle needed a new battery and I paid to have one installed by the dealership who assured me it was completely normal and batteries only lasted a few years. One week after the new battery installation, I started having catastrophic electric failures. I would lose all power to the vehicle and found myself stuck at an En Route centre in a thunderstorm terrified I would lose power on the 401 in the pitch black. The dealership offered no help. I contacted KIA Canada who arranged to have my vehicle looked at and provided me with a rental – I thought that was exceptional customer service. KIA did find a problem – the battery hadn’t been connected. The battery they had installed a week prior.

Soon after, I was again stuck with a locked ignition (not the steering column, the actual ignition). This concerned me as, while the car was still under warranty, it was close to the end of the warranty period and this was my third ignition already. The staff at the Sarnia dealership reassured me by saying “the parts will still be under warranty for 6 months”…..and of course, just a few months later, about a month after the warranty ended, it happened AGAIN. I was furious and contacted the dealership who informed me that my vehicle was no longer under warranty and I needed to pay for a new ignition switch. I reminded her that the parts were still under warranty and was told “Yeah well, we own that warranty now, not you. It’s free for us, NOT YOU”. I again reached out to KIA Canada as it seemed completely obvious to me that there was an existing defect at play and after being repeatedly ignored by your representative “Phillip” I was finally told “we can’t help you, sorry”. This time I took my vehicle to an electrical specialist who rebuilt the ignition and prevented this locking issue from happening. Unfortunately, the locked ignition and dead battery were never the problem, so it continued. The ignition stopped seizing and instead the car began a new problem. Stalling out while trying to start it. Up to 25 times in a single attempt. This problem would come and go. It would be prominent for a few weeks and then disappear. It was very hard to find a mechanic to put their finger on the problem, but ultimately, several finally did. More recently, the car has returned to its old trick of the battery completely draining when I try to start it. This happens unpredictably and there’s is nothing wrong with my battery. Over the years my car has been diagnosed many times. Every time it is diagnosed it gives a completely different code. We fix that problem, a new code instantly appears, which has lead now to hundreds of dollars of unnecessary repairs. In the end, all of the reputable mechanics to service my car have come to the same conclusion: the problem originates in the vehicles anit-theft system – and of course because in a KIA Rio that is hardwired to the vehicles computer rather than run off a fuse, there’s no easy fix. The opinion of EVERY ONE of these mechanics has been that the car has an inherent defect, most likely from the time of manufacture and that I will be stuck with this issue as long as I have the vehicle. And they have been correct. It is the reason the ignition used to fail. It is the problem that causes my battery to drain (and also responsible for a completely unnecessary battery purchase as advised by YOUR service technician). The worst part is that one only has to look online to see this is actually quite a common KIA problem.

In the first three months I owned my KIA, I referred several people who also purchased KIA’s. I regret that now. As of today, when asked about my KIA I am very honest. I actively advise people never to buy a KIA, not only because my car was built defective but because KIA had every opportunity to do the right thing and failed EVERY TIME. Add to that, the local dealership has the worst customer service I have ever encountered in circumstances which so obviously should’ve raised red flags about my vehicle.

Now I am in the position of a person with a strong moral conscience. I cannot sell this piece of junk to anyone. I cannot trade it in. The car is now of no value at all so I cannot even use it to purchase a better vehicle. I am completely stuck. As I gave KIA many opportunities to do what they should’ve done back when the vehicle started to fail in those first few years and was brushed off as difficult, I will use my platform to spread the word about KIA. I will also tell you that I contacted an electrical specialist again today who informed me “we will no longer work on a KIA. Any KIA. I’m sorry to hear you own one”. Your reputation has gone completely down the tubes, and with very good reason.

My only question for you is “wanna buy a KIA? I certainly can’t sell it to anyone else”…but I will be sure to share this message with as many as possible:

KIA fails at both vehicle quality and customer service basic minimum standards. Don’t expect common sense, and certainly don’t wait on common courtesy. You’ll get none.

C. Kipling

-Disgusted KIA owner