Jun. 13th, 2013

I've hit a bit of a wall, and I'm short on time to post - I came back from Adacamp with a nice case of "the crud" - doubtless imported from somewhere that the locals have resistance. Yesterday's essay wound up posted "private", because it wasn't ready for prime time when I had to leave for work - wasn't even coherent in fact. So today I'm going to try coming round at a different angle, via Canadian politics circa 1980. I'm guessing that the set of feminists (or other readers) with strong feelings about that time and place is more limited than e.g. the set of feminists with strong feelings about rape jokes at a recent video game presentation.

The British conquered the area that was to become the Canadian province of Quebec from the French, and administered it relatively fairly, by the standards of the time. Certainly the French settlers were treated much better than native Americans and half breeds. This worked well enough that the French population didn't either try to join the American revolution or support the Americans in the War of 1812. At least, not to any extent significant enough to matter.

But 20th and 21st century standards are different. By 1950 or so, it was clearly what we'd now call a colonialist situation - not as bad as e.g. Ireland, but not a credit to what had become an independent nation: Canada. Part of the problem was Anglophone hegemony; part of it was the Catholic church, which had a stranglehold on education taking place in French in the province, and used this power to teach basics only - elementary education, with even high school hard to come by, let alone university. And all this with a side order of censorship ... by the church, within its schools, not by the government or in general.

Then came the Quiet Revolution. (French) Quebecers reined in the Church, mostly via the political process, and set about creating a twentieth century, first world educational system. So far so good; it's hard to argue with this, unless of course you are a pro-Church fanatic, or an employer/politician desirous of a continuing supply of ignorant peons to exploit.

The problem, however, was that there were English speaking residents of Quebec. As it happens, I was one of them. I was also a child, i.e. attending (English speaking) schools while this was happening.
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Edit: I've figured out the analogy my subconscious was presenting to me, and I'm afraid it's a bit of a third rail. It has two parts:

  • English speaking Quebecers are equivalent to native-born geeks, a.k.a (some) people on the autistic specturm.
  • American-immigrants turned Quebec French nationalists are equivalent to folks assigned male at birth, but identifying as women now, particularly if they are involved in feminist activism.
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One final comment - I apologize to anyone who was derailed by my comparison of Quebec with Ireland.



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