‘Boysplaining’: it starts early

“You’re a fucking bitch. 

“How come you’re so fucking dumb.

“I have a Glock in my pocket.

“You hate Ukrainians.

“I’m a Ukrainian, and Russia’s the enemy.

“Russian invaded Ukraine and that means we have to bomb Russia.

“Use nuclear weapons on Russia.

“That’s a great idea – then bomb China.

“I have a Glock in my pocket [second time]

This is exactly how four or five pre-teen boys who gathered around talked to me at noon, as I sat on the flower planter in front of the Halifax Public Gardens.  I had my sign propped up beside me, not one word on it about Ukraine or Russia.

My sign: not a word about Ukraine, or Russia, or China

But the boys’ boysplained, and bullied, then used violent language against me.  For a middle school 12-year-old boy, does everything stem from a violent computer game?

Yesterday I was part of a demonstration at the Lord Nelson Hotel. The CPP (Canada Pension Plan) Investment Board held its bi-annual public meeting in Halifax, one of the CPP-IB meetings held across the country in October.  The purpose of the CPP-IB cross-Canada meetings is to talk about the investments the Board makes on behalf of Canadians contributors– and recipients.  

The CPP is the largest pension plan in Canada.  It invests more than C$870 million in global arms manufacturing.  For example, it invests C$76 million a year in Lockheed Martin, C$70 million in Boeing,  and C$38 million in Northrup-Grumman. The CPP also funds the climate crisis, war, and international human rights violations in the name of “building our financial security in retirement”.  

Every working Canadian who earns more than $3500 a year, pays 5.7% of their gross pay into CPP.   Canadians who earn $500 a week, pay about $28 a week for the CPP benefit.    Employers must pay their share which is also 5.7% of gross wages for each employee on the payroll. While all Canadians deserve and need a good pension plan – we should not build it on investing in war and products for war.  

Picket at the Lord Nelson Hotel. CPP-IB had public meeting to talk about their investments on our behalf. I’m third from left, with my sign.

Yesterday, seven women from the Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace, went into the meeting room with signs and leaflets to tell the Pension Investment Board not to invest in companies that make arms that support wars.  For example, as of mid-October 2022, Canada had committed more than $600 million in military aid for Ukraine beginning in January 2022.  Here’s a partial list from Project Ploughshares of what Canada has supplied Ukraine.

Canada’s military transfers to Ukraine, from January 2022


February:  C6, C9 machine guns; .50 calibre sniper rifles, 1.5m rounds of ammunition

February:  100 Carl Gustaf M2; cecoille ss rifles; 2,000 rounds of 84 mm of ammunition

March:  7500 hand grenades, 4,500 M-72 armour weapons

April:  4 X M777 155 mm Howitzers, M982 Exclibur precision guided ammunition; 8 senator armoured vehicles

June:  39 armoured combat support vehicles (ACSV) and parts

Back to the Boys

I was at the entrance to the Public Gardens, waiting for my friend. I was holding a sign that said “Stop CPP Arms Investments; No Pension $ to Boeing & Lockheed Martin.” [It showed a picture of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh who was assassinated by Israeli snipers May 11, 2022] and “Our Contributions Help Fund Israeli Apartheid.”  As you can see, there was not one word on the sign about Ukraine, or Russia.  These boys were out to pick a fight.

Me, my sign, four pre-teen boys, and a few tourists, in front of the Public Gardens on Monday around noon. (photo credit Fatima Cajee, NS-VOW)

It was lunchtime, and the boys rolled out of McDonalds and, seeing my sign, came over.  First, they started to taunt me –they were sure we needed weapons and bombs to fight the “bad guys” and the “terrorists”.  One asked me “Are you a Russian lover?” The same boy asked me if I “liked the terrorists in Iran.” Another boy asked what we’d do if Canada were invaded like Ukraine. One boy told me he was Ukrainian and I was a “fucking asshole.” When I tried to talk to them about NATO and the proxy war, the four boys in front of me became enraged and bullying. One boy asked if I like Palestine.  I said yes I supported Palestinians – he agreed because he was Palestinian.  Then he told me the Russians were terrorists as were the Chinese.  The first boy told me I should “shut the fuck up,” he said “I’d like to drop nuclear weapons on the Russians to free Ukraine.” When I asked what if Russia then sent nuclear bombs to kill us – we’d all be destroyed.  He was non-plussed:  Retaliation was beyond his comprehension.  But boysplaining — in training for mansplaining –was well under way.  Let’s remember: these boys are 12 or 13.  

Beating ‘hookers’ which you do after having sex with them, if you want to get your money back

in a violent video game some kids play

Are these the same boys I see most days from 3:00 pm playing violent video games on the public library’s computers?  I see them playing games in which they “take the bloodbath challenge,” fire bullet storms, shoot weapons that cause groin shedding fatalities, commit beheadings, beat “hookers” (which you do after having sex with them if you want to get your money back), murder cops and mow down your enemy targets.  Are these the same boys who in high school will bully girls possibly for sex, and bully classmates who they can take advantage of?  Are these the same boys who, though they don’t especially follow  the news, pick up every bit of sabre-rattling and pro-war propaganda – uttered in the media, by their teachers or their parents—or the politicians? Does anyone remember poet William Wordsworth’s phrase, “The Child is The Father of The Man?”

Did anyone show these boys the photo of Napalm Girl?

I worry about these boys:  has not one teacher shown them scenes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the Americans dropped the bombs?  Has not one adult showed them photos of the absolute destruction of European cities after WWII?  Has not one grownup shown them the famous photo of the girl running naked with napalm burns in South Viet Nam in 1972? Has no one shown them anything of the reality of war?  If not, why not? 

“”Napalm Girl,” Phan Thi Kim Phuc, plus South Vietnamese soldiers and a couple of journalists. This award-winning 1972 photo is by Nick Ut/AP. The girl had stripped off her clothes which were on fire from Napalm.

We are told “it takes a village” to raise a child – well if that’s so where is the village response to the arrogance and ignorance of pre-teen and teenaged boys about war and what it means?  We know that all of our society seems to be stoking that ignorance and callousness.  Our village includes our city fathers and mothers (councillors) who, rather than getting real about boys and young men on hockey teams who gang rape girls and women, decided the junior hockey players could not be deprived of their fun and the chance to play hockey, with no strings attached.  It’s as though the sexual assault of 2003 at the Juniors in Halifax never happened.  It’s the air brushing of reality so we can keep allowing “our” boys to do what they do best – whether it’s hockey, bullying or something worse.  

And the few men who stopped by mansplained that we Canadians could be invaded at any time by terrorists, or by our enemies, and who was going to protect Canada’s north? One man, who was pushing his grandson in a stroller, admitted that most of his pension came from investments in fossil fuels — but what was wrong with that?

By the way,  several women from ages 22 to late 50s  also stopped by to chat.  Each one expressed shock and anger that CPP invested in weapons of war.  They said they’d write in protest to their MPs. Ten out of eleven Nova Scotia MPs are men– just sayin’… 

Featured image: In “Fortnite: Battle Royale,” 100 players have a showdown to see who can be the last one left alive. (Epic Games)

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