All posts by Darcy L. Hoover

About Darcy L. Hoover

I am a fervent left wing member of the 1%, and I suffer from chronic first world problems. I hope that this contrite blog will allow me to avoid doing time in the third circle of hell.

I’m dreaming …

I’m dreaming of a rights Christmas, 

With rights for everyone I know

With no native women missing, Two men not fearing kissing, Where we all understand that no means no

I’m dreaming of a rights Christmas

With every tweet and blog I write 

May we keep our government in line, So that all our futures stay bright

leg xmas

I am breaking for the holidays but even while I am away I’ll be keeping up with the little details of my pet issues:










Women against feminism part three – think outside the box

The momentum that has ushered white, educated, wealthy woman in the western world out from behind the veil and into the wide where-and-when-ever-I-want-to-go world is not ubiquitous. The momentum exists in pockets of privilege and well lit corporate hallways, but it is conspicuously absent in many non-western societies.

Our momentum is improving our neighbourhood, but it isn’t helping the woman trapped outside the boundaries of our accumulated privilege at the same rate or in the same way it helps us. Only our active engagement with the feminist movement can do that.

nellie     louise     emily

Women against feminism are not only turning their back on the movement that fought for their comfortable ability right to turn their back at all. It’s like a dog biting the hand that feeds it. This isn’t the first movement to have a free rider problem and it won’t be the last.

But that isn’t the worst of their folly.

The true tragedy (and disgrace) is that they are turning their backs on all the women who have not yet gained the privilege of being treated like human beings, being safe in their own bodies and being allowed to pursue their own happiness.

Hey, you know, sometimes it’s not all about you, right? Think outside the box.

Too many of us don’t want to acknowledge what has come to be a globally accepted, albeit comicbook, truism: with great power comes great responsibility. We are empowered and have the responsibility to work extend that empowerment beyond our immediate selves.

Be a feminist for the woman who hasn’t got that option.

Be the feminist face to a government other than your own that thinks it can ignore the women it refuses to represent.

Be a feminist for the sake of other women until those other women are able use momentum to propel themselves to the place you currently take for granted.

Dec 6 1989 – Let’s talk about 25 years

December 6, 2014. Twenty-five years since the day that a man that believed that ‘feminists’ had ruined his life purposefully selected and killed 14 women at École Polytechnique in Montreal.

I was days away from my 21st birthday. Montreal was really far away from Edmonton, and the massacre was really far away from anything I had ever experienced or imagined could happen in my world. Afterall, I lived in a western democracy where women’s rights were respected. I mean, maybe when my mother was young there was a problem, but for me? I couldn’t imagine.

The blessing of my life is that I have never been the victim violence, sexual or otherwise.  I’ve known sexual harassment, and obviously I know that nagging fear every woman who finds herself suddenly alone in an unfamiliar place knows. I’ve struggled with body image, but I’ve managed to get through with pretty good self esteem. I am lucky in ways that a human being should never have to refer to as luck, yet in a way that for women is realistically characterized as coin-toss good fortune.

Reading the news today I wonder what has changed between that and now, days away from my 46th birthday.

What I do know now is that the world is not as safe and benign as I naively thought it was then. Have we made any progress since Dec 6 1989? I have a hard time sorting out the progress from the regress and I don’t know if I can do the topic justice.

Here are 6 views on the topic written by people trying to sort that out.

Misanthropy and the elevator experience

Our western social structure with our understanding of status and hierarchy and the subtle rules and principles that govern our communal lives has been largely constructed by extroverts, overwhelmingly from the male point of view.

Our culture is rife with unwritten gesture and behavior that act as grease for the grinding wheel that is our crowded community life. For introverts and women, behavioral expectations that on the surface may seem benign invite a host of complex inner conflicts.

The conflicts stem from the fact that western society undervalues the traits inherent to introverts and tends to portray their preferences as anti-social. I think it is because an extrovert sees an introvert’s desire to temporarily shut out the world as a denial of the social nature of existence. It isn’t true of course, and other introverts know it, but other introverts also know that there is a stigma attached to their inward looking personality.

There is a double stigmatization for introverted women because our gender is expected to smile and be receptive to other people’s needs over our own. Introverts are constantly pressured to act like extroverts, and female introverts are additionally pressured to ignore their guts and let people get closer and friendlier than our instincts tell us we should.

Take the elevator, for instance.

What is more unclear that elevator etiquette?

Tell me – how long are we actually expected to hold a door for a person who is approaching? It’s not as if this is the last elevator ever and if we let the doors close and leave them on the main floor that they are abandoned. Why do we feel pressure to hold the door and why is there a stigma attached to pushing the door close button?

What input do I have over the determination of a non-creepy amount of time someone holds the door for me? If you choose to delay yourself am I expected to rush in hurried gratitude? What if I was purposefully going slow in order to avoid company on the elevator? Then how do I get out of it?

I suppose if you are standing next to me while I wait and I get one first I should hold the door – that is unless I am feeling particularly misanthropic or you creep me out, in which case I will avoid getting on by faking a phone call to avoid being stuck in an enclosed space with you. But aside from changing course, how do I refuse the door held for me?

We’re following rules and forgetting to communicate.

Truthfully, unless you have caught my direct gaze and I clearly want on that elevator when you hold the door for me or ask me to hold it for you, you have put me in a position that is uncomfortable. This is doubly uncomfortable for me if you are a man, because I have not had time to decide if I want to be trapped on an elevator with you – especially bad if it is only the two of us and I also feel vulnerable. If you are a man I am put in the position of acting the charming girl in addition to acting the extrovert, and all the while I am thinking about egress.

Honestly, unless you have made it obvious that you want me to hold the elevator, I am going to push the door-close button to avoid the possibility of discomfort. If I feel uncomfortable I am going to push the button either way.

I titled this blog ‘misanthropy and the elevator experience’ on purpose.

The desire to opt out of social encounters is far too often portrayed as a rejection of other people, or snobbery or bad manners. But it isn’t. It is an embrace of self and an act of self preservation.

Elevator doors are like a portal to an unknown world. So, please, let the door close.

“You call me a misanthrope because I avoid society. You err; I love society. Yet in order not to hate people, I must avoid their company.” Caspar David Friedrich

“There is nothing I detest so much as the contortions of these great time-and-lip servers, these affable dispensers of meaningless embraces, these obliging utterers of empty words, who view every one in civilities” Molière, The Misanthrope

Women against feminism part two – get thee behind me, momentum

So my point, continued, is that neither anger nor misandry are inherent to feminist ideology and shouldn’t be used as reasons to reject feminism. The core of feminism is a call for human rights. We need people to stick with feminism to keep the core large in order that the fringe is kept in check.

Now, the thing about being a white, educated, wealthy woman in the western world is that it doesn’t leave a lot of starkly obvious[1] things to object to. My grandmother and mother took care of the stark and obvious injustices. For instance, their lot gave me the vote, personhood under the law, and access to the education I want. That is the big picture, and it can give the impression that everything is taken care of.

But you know the devil is in the details. That’s leaves us, as white, educated, wealthy woman in the western world, with issues that are grey and have softer edges. They are harder to clearly define. They take more detailed evaluation and more strategic motivated action to address. They are no less important as issues, they are just less clearly defined. For example we need to address the pay gap between men and women, unrealistic beauty standards, access to family planning and reproductive autonomy, and body sovereignty.

I accept that those issues already have considerable momentum behind them and are easy to lose enthusiasm for. The blessing of being a white, educated, wealthy woman in the western world is that we have a choice between losing enthusiasm; cheering halfheartedly or opting out of the discussion; and still the momentum will carry us forward. How long it will carry us forward if everyone chooses to not participate I don’t know. It’s a gamble that holds very good odds in the short run that even those who opt out will benefit. As in many circumstances, playing the odds is selfish and one person’s win is another person’s loss. Opting out and making gains from the efforts of other people is a bit selfish. In the long run staying the course, identifying as a feminist, continuing to point out the remaining inequalities and helping the feminist cause stay on course and strong enough to resist fringe elements, is the generous and less risky course. Opting leaves the continued work from which all HUMAN BEINGS (not just women) benefit, up to a minority of the population. It leaves us all open to the risk of being dragged down by the fringes and/or backward by outliers who actually do not believe in the feminist cause (and by extension in human rights).

I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I not only opted out, but also denied that any work needs to be done, which is precisely what ‘women against feminism’ do.

My next blog, continuing this topic, is about the majority of women. Most of us are not white, educated, wealthy woman in the western world with momentum behind us.


[1] It didn’t until recently anyway. But I simply don’t have the energy right now to bring up Jian Ghomeshi and the beautiful can of worms he has opened up

Violence is infection

I intended to publish a lighter blog this week as a break from my planned four-part series on women against feminism. (Some pedanthood trivia -> I learned this from Shakespeare; break up the serious scenes with a little comedic relief.)

However, in light of current events, I have shelved the lighter piece for future.

A Canadian soldier was murdered as he stood guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier, and his murderer then made his way through the halls of parliament in Ottawa.

I am not going to address how it happened, logistically.

However, as I am a pedant and therefore prone to fixation on details and rules, I am fixated on how this can happen on a human level. I can’t stop thinking about why and what and how.

I can, on some level, understand how a person who lives in a culture of violence can be habituated to acting violently. As humans, we conform to the norms of our society. When violence is the norm, then you conform to it unconsciously.

I also understand mental illness. I understand that some of us do not have the capacity to separate fact from fiction, and right action from wrong action, or to comprehend the full consequences of our behavior.

I find it personally challenging to understand how someone who comes from a place where violence is not the norm is recruited to violence. When you come from a peaceful nation where the norm is tolerance and agreeing to disagree how do you come to the point that you can actually see violence as a path?

Violence is a disease and doesn’t affect a healthy mind in a healthy environment. Violence is antithetical to the optimal conditions for cultural and individual existence. Acting out in violence is contrary to our natural impulses for self-preservation and cultural perpetuation.

One of my favourite Ted Talks is by Dr. Larry Slutkin, in which he talks about how he found success treating violence like a disease. He talks about interrupting transmission and shifting norms. Watch it here.

What are the rules and parameters of transmission of violence? How do we identify, inoculate and immunize against the transmission of violent behavior and indoctrination into violent ideologies? How do we identify those living in a healthy society who are individually less healthy and unable to fight indoctrination? How do we identify unhealthy cultures and build them up so that a healthy norm becomes strong enough to fend off the infection with violence?

Right now Canada is poised to join an armed fight against ISIS. Many people I know are completely opposed. I agree that violence begets violence, but I am also at a loss because I think it is obvious something needs to be done.

There’s this fellow named Marshall Rosenberg, I don’t know much about him or his Centre for Non-Violent Communication, but one thing he says resonates with me. He draws a line for responding to violence. His assertion is that we can respond with force OR with violence. We can use force to end a conflict and restrain the participants without becoming violent ourselves. He talks about it here.

I feel completely capable of this as an individual but I have no idea how we would accomplish this on a large scale. We do need to change the way we act and react to global issues. We need to treat the illness and stop the violence from spreading, and we need to act in a way that doesn’t mean we become violent ourselves in response.

We need to build a better world, not just burn and hope that the fire kills the virus.

Big task. I like to believe we’re up to it.

Women against feminism (pt 1of4) – The Fringe Mentality

I know I am not the only person who has noticed that the ‘women against feminism’ are privileged white women – privileged with reference to the fact that they can vote, go to school, testify in a court of law, and generally exist without anyone asking for permission. In turning their back on the movement that earned them these privileges, anti-feminists reveal they are either not the brightest crayon in the box or something is being lost in the constantly evolving communication of modern feminist ideology. (Quite probably some combination of the two)

There are mistakes being made in communicating feminism to a new generation of women. The worst damage is being done by a vocal minority attempting to define feminism leadership and the ideology a feminist must adhere to.

Listen – NEVER confuse an ideology with that ideology’s fringe element. I know they are vocal and easy to point out. I know they are cocky and pretty sure they are in charge. I know that they can rub moderate fence sitting types the wrong way.

The thing is, ‘women against feminism’, (and I CANNOT bring myself to type that phrase outside of quotation marks) make the mistake of equating angry, bitter women with feminism in its totality. Yeah, there are angry feminists. There are happy feminists. Feminists vary as much as people do (go figure) Exacerbating the ‘angry’ image problem is the fact that frequently women who speak up about anything are swiftly caricaturized as angry and pointed out. Which coincidentally, is a good indicator of how fragile our hard earned western feminist privileges are and how easily the layers of equity can be peeled away with a label like ‘bitch’ or ‘femi-nazi’.

Another point of miscommunication is the idea that feminists hate men or want to take away rights from men. I am loath to touch ‘man hating’ because it makes the worst of all mistakes; it continues to draw a strict line between human beings based on gender.


Let’s just say that human rights are not a zero sum game, and granting women human rights in no way strips men of human rights. It’s not a war, win or lose, us or them. You can love cooking dinner and still maintain the feminist belief that you are equal to your husband. You can give respect a man while still insisting on respect for yourself. You don’t have to be personally victimized to understand victimhood. Being accountable for your own actions does not mean you cannot expect others to be accountable for theirs. You can dislike one man and love a hundred other men. Feminism and motherhood are not antithetical (why would they be?) Looking out for women does not mean over looking-men (in fact feminism benefits men, more on that in another post) You can lift yourself up without pushing someone else down.

If what you are doing is your free choice you are standing up to patriarchy. If you are actively making your own free choices in your life no matter what they are, understand that whether you own up to the label or not, you are a feminist. Feminism isn’t about conforming to an ideology, it is about conforming to your own inner narrative about who you are and what you need to be fulfilled.



Confirmation bias

I have a few fears that come with behaviors attached, and high on my prioritized list of scary things I could do is the fear of not taking into account as many vantage points as are presented to me. As Aristotle wrote – It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. I aspire to an educated mind.

The ability to present our own views without being blinded by them is fundamental to effective communication. The key to not being blinded by our own attitudes is avoiding confirmation bias.

For the sake of clarity, confirmation bias is defined as the tendency to interpret evidence or points of view that are presented to us only as they confirm our own pre-existing world view, and to disregard and/or avoid any evidence or point of view that would lead us to question the same. It involves purposefully seeking out only the information that confirms what we believe and ignoring what calls our beliefs into question. Confirmation bias is strongly ingrained into human nature.

Avoiding this pitfall is important for me, and sometimes it is hard work.

After all, who doesn’t want to unfriend that one idiot who posts all the (not thought) provoking tea party, anti-climate change, you’re either ‘with me or against me’ tripe on Facebook?

Or the ninny that posts about meditating to cure illnesses; who likes  and shares every bit of drivel that Deepak Choprah spews out?  (FYI, I always get a giggle out of this:

Who would it hurt to end what is obviously not a true friendship, but what is probably at best an acquaintance based on some perverse intellectual voyeurism?

Therein lies the rub. It would hurt me.

I keep my circle wide because it helps me maintain my mental acuity. How else would I encounter a daily challenge to my ability refute inanity? What other reason do I have to keep that logical fallacies poster by my desk or to maintain solid knowledge of Graham’s hierarchy of disagreement? I could end up being one of those people who defends her opinions with the lazy way out “Because that’s the way I was raised/the tradition/how we’ve always done it”

More importantly, I keep my circle wide because disagreeing with one person’s one point of view does not mean that that same one person does not have something to teach me, because we don’t just learn from agreement. I particularly cherish the people who do really think critically and rationally, but still arrive at different conclusions from me.

Confirmation bias is a real danger.  When all our contacts and information are selected from sympathetic sources it is too easy to become intellectually compromised, and maybe even to become one of the nitwit someone else blogs about.

So I thank all the nitwits, simpletons, cretins and nincompoops that exist within the parameters of my network. You keep me sharp. My family, however, may not be as grateful because thanks to you they get to listen to a lot of frustrated raving about the sad state of society and how much I despair for the future of the human race.




Curses cursive!

I will preface this by saying I am a creative person. I actively support and actively practice many arts. I know what creativity is, and why it matters. I am also a pragmatic person. I want to be and say and create what will have the most constructive impact.

I have been lurking on the fringes of an online debate about education and cursive writing.

The entire ‘debate’ (and I use that term loosely) is rooted in nostalgia and has no practical relationship to the actual purpose of the education system.

The skills necessary in the workplace have changed dramatically in the last two generations. As the world changes the skills needed to navigate our world also change. The destination has changed, so the path taken must also change.

What has not changed is notable. Children still have a finite capacity for active instruction. There are still a finite number of hours in the day. The education system still needs to prepare young people for the realities of the workplace.

As a result, time and attention once paid to teaching cursive writing has been supplanted by time and attention allotted to teaching computer literacy.

In its time, cursive was taught for specific reasons. It increased the speed of written communication. Signatures were used as a means of identifying a person.

Neither of these reasons is valid in a modern context.

Handwriting is too slow to keep up with modern expectations in communication. Cursive is also frequently illegible, which slows down communication and introduces a margin of error.

One argument for cursive claims it nurtures ‘creativity’. First of all, the act of writing itself regardless of the method, is creativity. Hemingway typed. Cursive tends to be more difficult to read accurately precisely BECAUSE it lends itself to creativity; which is why official forms always ask you to print your name and information. Another cursive defense claims that humans evolved to have a relationship with the written word. Written communication did not evolve, we created it. Evolution is passive, creation is active. We evolved to recognize patterns, and used that pattern recognition to create written language. In fact, recognition is improved when the pattern is most consistent, and as I said before, cursive varies and on depends too many factors. Anyone who has tried to read a doctor’s script knows that is true.

Clarity and efficiency of communication are paramount. There are ways to teach creativity that are not antithetical to modernity.


There are better ways to identify a person. A signature is not a secure method of establishing identity, in large part because more of what we do is done via technology that does not accommodate pen and paper. Even learning to forge signature is old hat these days.


Another  concern is that our children will not be able to understand what we write. Let’s not forget, they are still being taught to print. How often is it entirely necessary that we write? It is not just our children who need to adapt to the modern world. If you must, print. It will probably be more legible anyway.

Let’s stop mistaking wistfulness for educational fundamentalism, and stop basing our future on a nostalgia tinged belief in the inerrancy of “the way things have always been done around here’. Cursive writing is an anachronism in the modern classroom. We don’t teach children math on an abacus anymore.

Go right ahead and insist your child learn cursive. Then one day he will be able to sign his job application with a lovely signature. I will continue to insist my son learn modern skills. My son will be able to print his skills and competencies on his resume. My son will get the job.