education perspectives

What does it mean if someone “Loves you to the Moon and Back”?

Short answer: Tbh, I think it means that they’re not that into you.

I was recently talking to someone who is in *new* love… the really intense type: the fresh- annoy everyone around you-obnoxious-dirty-we don’t want to go to work, because we would rather lie in these filthy sheets we defiled together all day-our love is magic-we have no chill stage of love. That said, I’m currently in love too. But, my stage of love is mostly about coordinating groceries, laundry, eating, drinking wine, playing scrabble and filing our taxes together, and I’m super happy about it. Besides, I remember the former being exhausting, and making me generally unlikeable to most people.

Anyways, this newly in love friend of mine recently said to me: “You know what I hate about being in love? It forces me to use cliches…. You know which one I really hate? ‘I love you to the moon and back’.”

I have never agreed more with anyone, ever.

I am really not a fan of cliches, especially when they are used unironically. But this one… *this one*…. gets my fists clenched, and nostrils flared. Not only is it a cliche, but it makes zero sense.

Here’s why:

On a good day (like when there’s no traffic, and the weather is good), it would take about 3 days to get to the moon.  Presumably it would also take 3 days to get back to earth. So there’s 6 days. Six whole days that you have to spend without the person that you love the most.

But, I couldn’t see anyone going all the way to the moon, just to do a U-y and head all the way back to earth. You might as well stay a couple of days. Maybe 2-3? Bringing the grand total of days without your main squeeze to 9. After 9 days, I’d imagine your heart would be aching and your libido racing.

On top of those 9 whole days, we also have to consider that we can’t simply launch ourselves into outer space from any location. In fact, based on my current location, I’d have to travel over 1000 km, and cross a border to get to the closest launching site. This would be about 2 day’s worth of driving. That’s 11 days. How is this romantic?

Also, being an astronaut is not intuitive… this activity clearly requires certification, which takes years. Surely all of this education and training would cramp your lovebird style. That’s a lot of lover-free hours in the classroom and the library. And I won’t even get into the  material resources that would go into funding all of this. I will say that I’m 100% certain that external support is not happening when the purpose of the trip is to “prove my love”.

The point is…

If you really loved someone so much, why would you then abandon them for pointless space travel? You should just stay in and chill with them. You know? Hangout, and not bother with all the (quite frankly gratuitous) travelling to the physical universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Just be cool.

In place of “I love you to the moon and back”, I suggest:

“I love you so much that I want to hang with you a lot, right here on this planet, to which we are both native, and reside 100% of the time. In fact, my love for you is so true, that if even if I was given the opportunity, I will not go to the moon and back. I’ll stay here with you instead.”  


education General perspectives sociology

A Sociologist in a Strange Place: What I Wish I knew about ‘Going Corporate’


It has been a year and a half since my last post, where I argued that folks with advanced liberal arts degrees (MAs and PhDs) had  a lot to offer “the business world”. I composed it while I was trying to transition into that space from academia. Months later (after many interviews and exhausting all of my social contacts), I ended up exactly where I thought that I wanted to be, in “business”.

I only managed to make it there for about 5 months.

Although I was doing reasonably well performance wise, I decided to leave because I was basically a fish out of water… or at least a fish in really unfamiliar water, where I didn’t know any of the other fish.

Also, I was doing far too much bathroom crying.

To be clear, I still stand by what I argued in May of 2014. We (liberal arts academics) do have plenty to offer, and perhaps if I had ‘toughed it out’, I would have reached a point where I came to define my experience as ‘successful’. That said, there are a few things that I wish I knew before immersing myself in a corporate environment. These are anecdotal, so they are not necessarily generalizable.

But, for what it is worth, here they are:

You will automatically perform an involuntary institutional ethnography, and nobody will care about your findings.  Coming from Sociology, I immediately problematized my new environment. Within the first month, I had critically taken account of the power relations of all the players, and the processes. I was full of recommendations to make the space more productive and egalitarian.

When I shared my insights with selective new colleagues, they were mostly incredulous. Either they had already had the same insights, and felt I was precociously naive about the power that employees might have to alter the corporate structure, or they felt that I was complain-y, ungrateful or bratty.

Although not always the case, being critical of your institutional environment was rewarded in academia. At the very least, you would have support from colleagues or fellow grad students. And, when enough people agreed with you, you went on strike.

Speaking of which…

Don’t even joke about unionizing. Your colleagues will become immediately uncomfortable.

You cannot take it for granted that your colleagues share (or are even sympathetic to) your politics. I learned this when I threw down (what I thought) was a clever dig at the (then) Harper government.

It was not well received.

That was the first time I met conservatives (irl)  who were under the age of 40. I’d heard of them, and I knew that they existed, but I had never actually (knowingly) met one.

It was a defining moment. You never know an implicit social rule, until you violate that rule. Coming from academia, especially in Toronto, I had never encountered a colleague that leaned to the right. Where I came from, overt irreverence towards Harper was commonplace, and not contentious in the least.

There’s so much that I could say about this– the politics. But, it is worthy a distinct post.

Language use is shockingly different. What is taboo in scholarly settings, is fair game in business contexts, and vice-a-versa. You may hear colleagues, and superiors use words like “chick” or “broad” to describe a woman. I once heard a colleague refer to someone’s “gay lover” (a term I haven’t encountered since I had watched Phil Donahue in the 90s). To me, it was shocking to be exposed to these words in a professional context. It would have been unheard of with my former colleagues.

The same rang true for me: references to “my partner” were met with scepticism from my new workmates (who correctly read me as straight and cis). Years ago, when I started the MA program, I learned to stop saying “boyfriend” when I spoke of my S.O. and use “partner” instead. It was considered to be more inclusive, and thus professional considering the context. This was one of the ways that going corporate was undoing my previous professional socialization processes.

There are also “business buzzwords”, like “buy-in”, “circle-back”, “best-practice” and “scalable”, that I never quite got used to. And imho they are mostly bullshit.

These were just a few of the many lessons I learned during my career transition. Although it was not a good fit for me, I was grateful to have the opportunity to experience a sample tasting of the world of business. Even though they were different from me, in ways that I wasn’t used to, I liked them.  And, the experience opened my mind, ultimately forcing me to flex my atrophying sociological muscles. Since then, my career has been defined by “hustling”, like many other Sociologists Outside the Academy (SOAs).

I’m more optimistic about career outside academia, because I am increasingly becoming aware of a growing number of people in my position. As a friend recently reminded me, we are smart, creative, and we have place. And if we can’t find that space, we will have find a way to create one.  


education post-feminist problems

Douchey Teacher thinks that Female Teachers are Setting Slutty Examples

Among my limited talents is the ability to provide theoretical validation to just about any a feelings that my friends might have. If they get rattled by something that they see, read or experience, they sometimes come to me to help them put their feelings into productive commentary. This is particularly true when it comes to social justice issues. Through my academic training I have had the privilege of gaining access to terms and language that help me frame my experiences in the social world. It is a pleasure to help them out in this way.

I recently got together with a girlfriend who teaches in an elementary school. She was reading the editorial page of the Globe and Mail, where she saw a comment written in reaction to an article called “Debating the Great School Cover-up”, which discussed students’ clothing. She photographed it because she found the comment frustrating, judgmental and intrusive. She then sent it me.

Evidently, Don Cooper, a teacher from Toronto thinks that his slutty ass colleagues should not be setting such slutty examples.

For a woman, dressing to teach in our social context is difficult. As this this post from tenureshewrote points out, we have very narrow appearance norms to follow when we dress to face students and (sometimes judgmental) colleagues. If women are too polished, they risk being criticized for their vanity, and it is concluded that her “looks distract from what she is saying.” But, if they dress down, they risk being criticized for their apathy, and it is concluded that her “looks distract from what she is saying.”

This is an issue that many women in professional spaces confront. In a culture that encourages all of us to objectify women and perceive their bodies as objects of desire, but also as objects of disgust, it makes it difficult for women to perform their femininity appropriately. Folks like Don Cooper reinforce this idea that our bodies are inherently sexual, and that it is our job to erase any trace our secondary sex organs in order to be taken seriously. Otherwise we make ourselves into distractions.

“Attire is a touchy subject when you consider a woman’s perceived right to wear what she will” – Don Cooper

I am a little surprised that the Globe and Mail would publish such a misogynistic comment (just kidding, I’m so not surprised). But, it really is sexist. First of all, Mr. Cooper you are not talking about attire as much as you are talking about our bodies. No shit: it is “touchy” when an institution or a person decides to interject in your presentation of self. And, are you seriously suggesting that women merely “perceive” themselves as having “the right” to wear what they “will”? This right is no more “perceived” than the right to vote or have a fair trial. It is a right, regardless of perception, and to suggest otherwise is more than just a little troubling to me.

Perhaps we should encourage people like Mr. Cooper to re-evaluate his “perceived right” to comment about how his colleagues present their bodies.

education sociology

Social Science and Democracy

I remember getting riled by the engineering and even the kinesiology students during my undergrad for taking sociology. They felt it was a waste of time, and even a bit of a cliche for a young woman to be in that program.   The social sciences have often been ridiculed, but recently one study funded by a large financial institution (CIBC) has provided social science haters with lots of ammunition, particularly when it comes to the return of investment on a degree. This study tells us that pursuing a degree in the Humanities or social science is basically pointless.  Students, instead should be opting to pursue careers in fields like business.

While I’m certainly not prepared to review the particular methods and the validity of the findings here, I think that we should be critical at a larger level. It is troubling to me that a powerful financial institution is producing research that explicitly deters people from entering the only programs that will formally introduce them to critical social discourse.  The social sciences, like History, Political Science, and Sociology provide students with ways to problematize major financial institutions and the subsequent wealth disparities that they perpetuate. This is extremely threatening to the status quo, which banks like CIBC are highly invested in.

That social sciences have a ‘low return on investment’ (if it is true) says nothing about the intrinsic value or applicability of the disciplines to current social conditions. Rather, it is a devaluing of the critical voices that emerge from these programs. This exchange between right wing business douche Kevin O’Leary and Chris Hedges is a perfect example of an attempt to silence such a social scientific critique of neoliberal economic hegemony.  The Humanities are clearly a threat to the institutions that hold power in our culture.

The thought of a society without the social sciences and Humanities quite frankly terrifies me. Dissent and the opportunity to thoughtfully develop it is crucial in a democracy. This not so subtle push towards a post-social science world is absolutely a threat to democracy.

Thanks for telling me about this Ryan!

'race' education perspectives

The N-word in the classroom: Two different perspectives

A few months ago I was involved in an interesting discussion with two other instructors. I am a white female sociologist, and was talking to another sociologist who is of Indian descent, and a white female historian. We all broach the topic of ‘race’ in our classrooms. So, we started to talk about the ‘N-word’. I, as well as the other sociologist involved in the conversation took it for granted that we don’t use that word in the classroom, especially considering that neither of us, or our ancestors were targeted by that word. But, then the historian shocked us.

She told us that when reading primary historical documents which contain the word, that omitting it or changing it would be revisionist, which from my understanding of serious historians is problematic. She went on to tell us that she wanted to get her students to experience the shock, and visceral effect of the term. She actually made the argument that not using the term was actually ineffective pedagogy.

This really highlighted how complex this issue is. All three of us would describe ourselves as anti-racist feminists, and we share very similar politics.  But, in sociological discourse the use of this term in the classroom, at least by a person who is not Black would be considered to be troubling. I suppose that this is one of the differences between historians and sociologists. We both have theoretical justifications for how we treat this powerful symbol, and I don’t think either of us are necessarily wrong.

Imma shutup about teaching for today.

'race' education perspectives privilege sociology

Teaching: Privilege and the Denial of Oppression

Whenever I teach intro sociology, I (for better or worse) always hit my students with the most controversial chapters in the first 3 weeks: ‘race’ and racism, gender and sexism, and social inequality. Bam! I do this for many political and pedagogical reasons which I won’t go into here.  But, the effect of this is usually pretty intense. My students tend to experience anger. This anger is either directed at their culture, but often times it is directed at me. I am, after all pointing out the flaws in their culture, showing them that it isn’t always fair, and despite our best efforts, hard work does not guarantee us success. This is a lot to handle. People like to see their social context as fair and just. So, I come up against a lot of resistance.

Learning, especially in the social sciences necessarily entails a level of discomfort. Only when we become uncomfortable with the frame through which we are accustomed to viewing our world through, will we consider changing that lens. This is one of the main goals in teaching sociology. We want to push our students towards seeing all of the taken for granted disparate power relations that operate in all of our social interactions (both micro and macro), our identities/roles and our social institutions.

I always expect a level of resistance.  But one particular form of it drives me bananas… “white people/men also suffer from discrimination… blah, blah, blah, reverse-racism, blah, blah, blah.” Ugh.

I was discussing the phenomenon of “driving while black” in Toronto where we have a racial profiling issue. This is not an issue simply dreamt up in the minds of bored lefties. Even Bill Fucking Blair acknowledges this issue. Yet, this empirical fact is refuted with statements like “My son is white, and he was pulled over the other day, so yeah.”  Not only is this argument illogical, but it reveals this desperation to ‘fight’ for the privileged group, and refute that the oppressed group is actually oppressed.  It’s about aligning oneself with the valued group.

So, I’ve prepped my lecture notes for next week. This one is about sexism. This particular group (43 women, who are 40+) is outspoken in their advocacy for privileged folks. So, in my discussion of feminism, I actually spend most of my time talking about what it can do *for men* (it can do a lot, btw). This is ridiculously ironic, and actually quite manipulative on my end. It is an attempt to get them to stop advocating for men, when I go on to point out that (white middle class) men have more power in our culture by virtue of their gender.

 I will inevitably, at one point this semester hear that “women rape men too” in an effort to degender a discussion of rape and rape culture. But, hopefully I’ll come up with a similar strategy.  


education post-feminist problems privilege

There’s no wrong way to be born

American Vice-President Joe Biden recently said that transgendered rights represent the “civil rights issue of our time”. As a Sociology instructor, and as a human capable of observing and processing information from the media, and my everyday life, I agree with him.

Often I can persuade my students to recognize racial, and even to some extent gendered dimensions of oppression. Many of them are also pretty sympathetic to gay and lesbian issues too. But, when I approach transgendered issues, I often come up against at best blank stares, and at worst angry sighs (every soc. Teacher knows the ‘angry sigh’).  When I actually talk about transgendered parenting, it becomes even more pronounced.  This brings me to the point of this post. I actually have two points. First, transphobia is exacerbated when trans gendered people boldly challenge the gender binary through non-normative parenting, and second, children are used as political pawns in justifying hateful and discriminatory discourse. These issues are highlighted in an interaction with my students during our last class.

I began to discuss the challenges associated with being a pregnant transgendered man. Incidentally, when someone who is not cisgendered, or whose sexuality involves non-heteronormative behaviour is expecting a child, we should all recognize that this parent, beyond any doubt deeply desires a child.  This is the case because ‘surprise’ pregnancies simply do not occur in such contexts. These pregnancies often take a great deal of planning, especially if a transgendered male has to stop taking hormones and engages in other preparatory actions. Anyways, students often become incredibly uncomfortable. There’s many reason why this might be the case. Here are a few:

  1. These individuals challenge traditional notions of both femininity and masculinity.


We often think of pregnancy as the epitome of femininity. I guess that on some level, this makes a lot of sense. Not only does the typical pregnancy involve the full use of the female reproductive system; uterus, vagina, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and all of those other well-hidden organs, but it is also (typically) the first step towards ‘motherhood’. Becoming a (certain type of) mother is considered to be a successful marker in terms of obtaining ‘authentic womanhood’.


But, this is total bunk.  If we believe that fathers can be nurturing and capable of raising well-adjusted children on their own (they can be, and they are), we should recognize that gender roles shouldn’t be so rigid, because they don’t define us, and shouldn’t limit our ideas of ‘acceptable behaviour’ for men or women. Also, and this has been said before, not all cisgendered women are mothers, and not all mothers are cisgendered women.

  1. Children are involved.

We love children! We are all about kids. If we deem something as being potentially damaging to these completely innocent and helpless human beings, we lose our shit, and we often become morally indignant about the whole thing. For example, in class the other day, while I was talking about trans men and pregnancy one of my insightful students expressed some ambivalence towards this form of parenting:


“But, Miss… like isn’t that going to be hard for a kid? His dad carried her. Like in his uterus. I get transgendered rights, but that’s not fair to put that on a kid, you know?”



I responded to this student like this:


“Fair enough. But, I’m pretty sure that all of us are pretty disgusted by our conception stories. For example, over 30 years later, I am still working through the pain and disgust associated with my own conception: my parents totally had sex with each other. Now that conception story is a lot to put on a kid, you know?”


Seriously, who cares? Like Drake says, “we started from the bottom, now we’re here. We started from the bottom, now the whole team’s here.” Does it really matter how we entered the world? There is no wrong way to be born, and we are all a little uncomfortable with our own conception. That’s human nature. Besides, as much as we use children, and their best interests to fuel or “morally superior” politics, no one really cares about children. This is evidenced by the lack of universal childcare, the American deregulation of children’s media, and the dearth of support for mothers in our culture… *justtonameafew*


Anyways, that’s my rant for today.

education sociology

Sociology is a discipline with a messy face

“That’s not fair” is one of the first concepts that toddlers learn and use to make sense of their worlds. Perhaps this is proof that a sense of justice is in some way ‘natural’. I normally would be extremely reluctant to claim that any human behavior is ‘natural’ (that’s the job of evolutionary psychologists), but in this case I feel comfortable making such a statement, because that’s what I would like to believe. Sure, the Hobbesians among us might see this tendancy as an indication of selfishness, but I’m content framing it as an innate inclination towards valuing justice.

For many of us, we carry this sense of fairness throughout the our life course. Sociologists (try to) turn it into a career. This certainly describes me.

My soap boxing got more intense in my teens.  I started seeing a lack of fairness everywhere. Sometimes I would feel that I wasn’t being treated fairly, and other times I would see that another human or animal was not getting their fair share. Eventually, I began to notice that it wasn’t just individuals who weren’t treated justly, it was groups and categories of people.

Meanwhile, I was not the best student. I didn’t find much enjoyment in my classes. Math was a joke. I was remotely interested in some aspects of History. My grades were barely good enough to get me into University. The only time I enjoyed school was when we were covering topics that focused on social issues. Whenever I had a choice in terms of school projects, I would write about prostitution, or the role of American First ladies in American politics.

After high school, I ended up at wonderful University. My decision to do so was pretty much based on where my boyfriend at the time attended school. I planned to obtain what I saw as a token 3 year BA. Then I ended up in an Intro Sociology class.  Over the course of the next few months, I was given the tools to see, critique, and make sense of the social inequality. My random observations and emotions began to come together in a cohesive discourse. It was validating not just because my grades were good, but I discovered that the commentary going through my teenage head actually had a name. For years I had been a sociologist, and I didn’t even know it.

My relationship with the discipline/perspective has not always been easy. There have been some great memories, but we also had some difficult times. We even broke up for awhile.  Sociology hasn’t always been fair to me. Sometimes it isolated me from my friends and family. Other times. Currently, we are facing another challenge in our long, passionate and tumultuous relationship; in September, I am no longer going to be teaching at the college where I work.

I remember that intro course that I took many years ago. The first thing that my professor said to us was “Sociology is a discipline with a messy face”. Over a decade later when I had my very own class, I opened with the exact same line, just as I had fantasized that I would.  I’m not exactly sure where I will end up now, but I know I’ll be “committing sociology”.

– DS