Cirque and the Sexual Objectification of Men

On Friday, I went to Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai. I have been dreaming of going to a Cirque show for years, but something always got in the way of us going. So I was very excited to go. What I didn’t expect, however, was to feel utterly disgusted by the end of the show. I couldn’t believe that the show would include such base comedy nor that it would go nearly to the point of sexually harassing male audience members. But it did. And I want to share my shock of the experience.

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I went to the show expecting the majesty and beauty that I’ve come to know from Cirque. And there was that. The costumes and music were beautiful, the acts stunning to perfection. But the show itself left something to be desired.

During the intermission, I actually went back to the website for Varekai. Did I miss something? What was going on? The show is described as “A captivating forest inhabited by whimsical and enchanted creatures.” Ok, check. Looking more closely, I see a mention of “both the absurd and the extraordinary” and a tribute to the “circus tradition.”

First, the character of The Skywatcher. This character spends half the time on stage grunting or making obscene faces. Like a caveman meets a dunce. A dunce who “comically” makes rude and inappropriate gestures. Here is how he is described online:

“Mad scientist and ingenious inventor, collector of the world’s memories and interpreter of signs, this is a man who receives signals, transforms sounds and forewarns of trials and tribulations.”

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Ok, sounds ok? I can see a little bit of comedy in there, but the level of base rudeness presupposes that the audience is uneducated and only capable of laughs through the most crude grunts and gestures. So I found that insulting. Take those elements of “interpretation” (I’m being generous here) out, and the character would have more value. Particularly as he’s supposed to be “ingenious,” not an idiot. 

So let’s move on. If you thought that was it for comedy relief, however, you’d be wrong. Included in the show, but hidden from the main page, are “Clown Acts”:

“No circus show would be complete without clowns! Joanna and Steven amuse the audience with an act that’s simply absurd.”

And yes, absurd it is. I can forgive this as an intermission piece, but it’s woven throughout the story, removing all sense of fluidity and grace from the actual Cirque performance. What’s more, I felt actually offended by the content of the show. During the show, the act singles out audience members to “interact” with. They make men take their arms off of girlfriends, or pick pocket some men, or interact in other ways. There were two incidents, though, that spoke of more than just comedy.

In one incident, the performer isolated a boyfriend from his girlfriend. The male in the act went to sit with the girl (haha, I’ve stolen your girlfriend!), which would have been ok, had not the woman in the act thrown herself in front of the man, holding onto his chair while covering his body. Now, imagine a man doing this to a woman. Would you be ok with a woman being physically restrained in this way? No? Me neither. But I also wasn’t ok with this being done to a man. I didn’t find it funny. 

Next was the more serious incident. A man was pulled onto stage to be a part of a disappearing act. During the course of the act, the woman in the show was seen to throw her body onto his and pretend to kiss him. The whole act was about her sexually fawning over this audience member. So, while I object to the way she’s sexualizing herself, what really threw me was how everyone was laughing while this was happening. If a woman were on that stage and a man pretended to grope her, would that be ok? It’s NOT OK. 

I don’t know what happens in these circus acts at other shows. This is not, and has never been, my style of comedy. But if this is the norm for circus acts, it’s NOT OK. Just because men are the centre of the act, not women, does not mean we have a right to sexually objectify them. If I were on that stage, I would have felt abused. That is sexual harassment and it is NOT OK. 

Cirque, what are you doing?!?!

Teething Damien

Damien started off the month with his two bottom teeth, but it didn’t stay that way for long. Starting with the right lateral incisor, his mouth was a little uneven in its toothy grin for a couple of weeks. I thought he may end up getting the “vampire” look, as Aiden did, having the lateral incisors coming in before the central ones. Not long after, he started to get the right central incisor, proving me wrong, and 2 days later I noticed the left lateral incisor and the central one too. 

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For the last two weeks, he’s been teething very badly. The left central incisor is still only partially out, so we are not quite through with the process. 

My good sleeper went from 11.5-12 solid hours of sleep (ok, sometimes he woke too early) to having 3-6 wakes in the night, some for up to 2 hours. Brutal transition, particularly when big brother was also sick (and he is much worse, getting up 5-12+ times). He’s been getting Advil, though thankfully he’s mostly ok during the day now, being excited by his increased mobility. 

Still, teething sucks and I would love to actually get some sleep again!!

Diapers Are Sized Incorrectly

After nearly a year changing diapers, I’d like to consider myself an expert. I’ve tried 3 different brands of disposable diapers – Seventh Generation, Pampers, Huggies – and some subsets of each. No matter the brand, I have found that the diaper sizes are off by 2lbs.

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Sizes typically run in ranges. For example, Size 4 is 22-37lbs. What I’ve found, however, is that baby should be in Size 4 at 20lbs. The previous size, though they are “supposed” to go to much larger, will begin to leak long before they used to. Particularly at night.

For a while, while we were still night nursing, we had some success using Huggies Overnite diapers. But, in all honesty, going a size up in regular diapers was just as effective.

So, dear diaper manufacturers, I suggest changing your size guidelines!

Family Bathrooms Aren’t For People with Invisible Children

Z and dad at swimming lessonsOne of the best things about raising a child in this day and age is the increasing prevalence of family bathrooms and change rooms. Their main purpose is to allow either parent to perform a diaper change or assist a young child on the toilet regardless of their child’s gender. They have put an end to fathers changing infants on the floors of men’s washrooms everywhere because the only change table available is in the women’s washroom. Little boys don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of using a woman’s bathroom when they’re out with mom instead of dad. Plus there is usually enough room for a stroller, so parents can easily go to the bathroom themselves while still being able to supervise their child. Family change rooms at places like public pools also allow families to change and shower in the same private room–meaning none of the aforementioned gender issues and an extra set of hands to help with swimsuit changes.

My new pet peeve as a parent is the apparent pandemic of childless people who seem to think that family bathrooms and change rooms are really designed for anyone who would rather not use the regular public washrooms and change facilities. From this point on, this post is directed at those people though I have a feeling if you’re thoughtless enough to use the family bathroom when you’re flying solo, you’re probably not the type to read a parenting blog.

Dear selfish shopper, who makes me wait outside the family bathroom at Park Royal with a squirming infant in a dirty diaper that could spring a leak at any moment, the women’s bathroom is down the hall. There are many stalls available there, but only one change table and it is in the bathroom that you are currently occupying sans infant! Given that I know you can hear my son wailing out here, I can’t figure out why you’ve decided to take your sweet time washing your hands (yes, I can hear the faucet running). If you want more privacy and space while you urinate, go at home.

Dear Sunday morning change room hog at Karen Magnussen pool, there are only four family change rooms at this pool and about two dozen kids enrolled in Sunday morning swim lessons who are all competing for them. We shouldn’t have to be late for our class just because you would rather shower in a private room instead of using the group shower available in the women’s change room. If you need so much privacy, shower at home or join an exclusive aquatic club. As it is, most Sundays, I struggle to change my son on my own in the women’s change room while my husband changes in the men’s because we don’t have enough time to wait for a family change room to clear out.  My husband is usually changed and waiting for us on the pool deck several minutes before I bring our son out; he could speed up the process by lending a hand if we were able to change in the family room.

Oh and in case you didn’t pick up on it, every time I have caught someone with no kids coming out of a family facility, it has been a woman. Why is that? Do men just have more manners or more respect for the needs of young families? I bet the majority of the women I’ve caught (and there have been several) are mothers or plan to be mothers. Shouldn’t they know better? Shouldn’t they just “get it” because they’ve been there? Are these the same kinds of people who park in handicapped parking spaces?

All I can say to you women with invisible children is GRRR! Well, and to have a little more courtesy next time.

Motherhood in the Movies

Me & ZOkay, it’s not like I expect Hollywood to portray motherhood (or fatherhood for that matter) in a realistic light, but there are a few things about how mothers and the whole parenting experience in general are portrayed that drive me crazy.

1. No birth scene in film or television history has shown a woman deliver a placenta. I know it’s gross, and I’m not exactly asking for a close-up, but there should at least be some suggestion that your work isn’t over as soon as the baby is out.

2. When a woman’s water breaks, it explodes everywhere in a huge dramatic flood or she simply says, “I think my water just broke” with no signs of fluid to be seen. In real life you look more like you peed your pants than anything else.

3. The average “newborn” in films is probably 4 months old. No wonder women are so terrified of giving birth; Hollywood has made them think they have to push out a baby that’s about twice the size of the one they will actually deliver.

4. Gratuitous boob shots are common yet I’ve never seen a woman breastfeed in a movie.

5. On screen, your baby bump disappears immediately after birth and you never have to wear sweatpants 24/7 because they’re the only thing that fits.

6. 90% of TV and movie dads are portrayed as totally inept (for comic effect) or totally uninvolved. I just think that’s unfair to most of the dads in this world who are amazing parents.

7. Hollywood babies seem to love sleeping on their back in a crib.

8. TV & movie parents always seem to have babysitters when they need them and the kids are always conveniently in bed or outside playing when the adults need to have important conversations.

9. All poopy diapers smell on screen while in reality the diapers of an exclusively breastfed baby hardly smell at all.

10. Film and television parenting is all about extremes. It’s either total chaos as the harried mother who hasn’t showered in days tries to have a phone conversation while her baby is screaming in her arms and her toddler draws on the walls with permanent marker or it’s a totally put together mom enjoying a lunch date with a friend while her baby is little more than a prop in a stroller beside her.