Category Archives: Feminism

Looking for Heroes?

energy-east-poster.jpg

I’ve been watching The Book of Negroes this week. I have no words. I only recognize justice, integrity, brutality, acknowledgement, witnessing, story telling and a myriad of other foggy responses.

It’s easy to also ponder qualities of heroes.

Then I read this from earlier this week, and nodded. Do you get it?

Anishinabe Women Protest Energy East Pipeline on Family Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 16, 2015

‘Protect the Water, For Future Generations’: Message being shared today with local families, starting at Market Square at noon.

Kenora—Dozens of Anishinabe Women, their families, and supporters converge today on Market Square at noon to deliver a message against the proposed Energy East Pipeline that will deliver tarsands oil right through the City and through all of Treaty 3 (and other First Nations) Territory.

Today’s Family Day demonstration, with a focus on protecting the water for future generations, is intended to be highly visible—with drumming, singing, placards and speeches—and to inform and engage the local public about the immense threats posed by the likelihood of oil spills to local water sources, ecosystems, animal habitat, and human health, as well as broader environmental impacts from proposed tarsands expansion.

Fawn Wapioke is Chief of Shoal Lake #39. She says, “I am deeply concerned about the pipeline and believe that our responsibility is to the land, the water, and future of our People. Our responsibility is upholding the law of the land to ensure survival of our Mother Earth.”

TransCanada, speaking to the possibility of a major oil spill in the area, has said that it would take a minimum 22 minutes to shut down the Energy East pipeline in case of a leak. Any spill from the pipeline  could allow as much as 2.7 million litres of oil to spill in that time.

It wouldn’t be the first major industrial spill in the region.

“Being from Grassy Narrows, I know firsthand how damage to the water can poison our families and our kids, not just now, but in the future, too,” said Corrisa Swain, a Youth from Grassy Narrows where families continue to watch newborn children exhibit the brutal symptoms of mercury poisoning, a Dryden pulp and paper mill having dumped over 9000 kgs of Mercury into the English and Wabigoon River System over 40 years ago. “We know from our own experience how these kinds of projects can have terrible impacts on future generations and how unlikely it is that government or companies will ever clean up afterwards,” says Swain.

The environmental impacts from the Energy East Pipeline also extend far beyond the local effects on the Winnipeg River, Lake of the Woods and local ecosystems.

“The project is a climate nightmare, demanding as much as a 40% expansion of tarsands extraction, releasing millions of tonnes more carbon pollution, just when we’ve been told that 75% of tarsands oil needs to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate impacts in the next century,” said Teika Newton, a representative of Kenora Transitions Initiative (TIK), a Kenora-based environmental advocacy group. “There is also the reality that tarsands extraction, like pipeline spills, have terrible impacts on downstream communities across the continent,” Newton says.

Trancanada’s new pipeline project has already been opposed across the entirety of its route, from local tarsands impacted communities to the Mohawk community of Kanesatake and Mi’qmak communities on the East Coast. In Treaty 3 Territory, Grand Chief Warren White has already clearly stated that the pipeline will not carry tarsands oil across the territory without express consent from affected First Nations. Local grassroots communities have echoed those sentiments.

“The Energy East Pipeline is going to affect us all, we together as Peoples need to prevent this project. For the sake of the water, wildlife, and land,” says Alicia Kejick, a Youth from Shoal Lake #39. “For our Peoples and future grandchildren,” Kejick says, “it is momentous that we protect what is ours to begin with. We will be out on Family Day, not just to raise awareness, but to speak for those who can’t.”

-30-

Contact:   Chrissy Swain, 807 407 1468

Pink Washing: Does This Pink Shirt Really Say Enough?

PNKTYTBy Emily Griffiths

Pink Shirt Day is almost upon us. The annual campaign to raise money and “awareness” on the issue of “bullying” takes place on February 25. As this date approaches, I’m sure you’ve noticed an inundation of bright pink. Even at this very moment, I am sipping my tea from a Blenz paper cup, wrapped in a festive Pink Shirt Day cardboard sleeve. Blenz is one of “a bunch of great businesses [that] are holding fundraisers during the month of February with proceeds going to Pink Shirt Day.” Blenz doesn’t actually give money; they just provide us consumers with a number to text, so that we can “have $5 added to [our] monthly mobile bill, to be donated to support anti-bullying programs.” For their effort, Blenz can piggyback on the all the symbolic glory of philanthropic pink.

The colour pink ties in nicely with the Valentine’s Day displays around the city. This is the season of love and compassion, or at least the symbols of love and compassion. Pink also works well as the spokes-colour for anti-homophobia, which brings us to the Pink Shirt Day origin story: Two high school students in Nova Scotia witnessed a male classmate being harassed by a fellow student for wearing pink, a colour associated with the antithesis of masculinity. The witnesses went to a discount store after school, purchased 50 pink t-shirts, distributed them to their classmates the following day and stood in solidarity with their previously demeaned classmate. This display of empathy, solidarity, and community action was inspiring! The Premier of Nova Scotia declared the day officially and momentum has been growing ever since.

This type of origin story is familiar. Without it, Pink Shirt Day might be read as a superficial government/corporate campaign to boost their image as community-based philanthropic entities, as well as a gross simplification of the real and complex problem of inter-student violence in schools. The origin story works to root the event in an authentic action, thereby lending perceived authenticity to the entire “movement.”

This tactic is nothing new. The Pink Ribbon Campaign for Breast Cancer “awareness”, introduced in 1992, has an authentic origin story of its own behind all the colour-coded marketing. Charlotte Haley is the “granddaughter, sister, and mother of women who had battled breast cancer.” She made peach-coloured ribbons by hand in her dining room, and distributed them at the local supermarket. This origin story does not have such a happy ending, as Haley rejected Estee Lauder’s request for her ribbon, saying they were “too commercial.” Estee Lauder lawyers suggested changing the colour of the ribbon to avoid a lawsuit and proceed without Haley’s involvement. Voila! The pink ribbon was born!

Both the Brest Cancer and Anti-Bullying campaigns involve the corporate appropriation of authentic political and community action. This can be called “Pink Washing”, and it functions similarly to Green Washing. Just as we are reassured that using reusable shopping bags will save the planet without any real effort or sacrifice on our part, so are we reassured wearing the official pink T-shirt, posting a selfie #pinkshirtday, or participating a dance flash mob will bring an end to inter-student violence, oppression, and harm. I love a good dance flash mob, but is this the type of action that facilitates meaningful discussion and problem solving, or is the effect more so one of surface appearances?

I am not here to claim that Pink Shirt Day offers nothing of value to those who participate. The colour pink itself can help youth question gender norms, and I’m sure some deeper conversations of empathy and community do arise. What I do propose is that Pink Shirt Day serves to simplify a complex issue. One way this is done is through the use of language.

We use the word “bullying” as a catchall. Why do we call a harmful act or series of acts “bullying” rather than homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, and classism? These more specific and political words can help us more deeply understand the various forms of power and oppression rampant in our schools and broader communities. An awareness of interlocking systems of oppression can help us work to dismantle these oppressions from an educated and empathetic perspective. Calling homophobia by its real name can help young people make sense of their own felt experiences. This is the first step in talking openly and constructively about the systemic injustices they face, and working towards a place of safety and empowerment. Painting all oppressions with the wide brush of “bullying” undermines the intelligence of children and youth by artificially simplifying complex problems.

One reason I think we are so drawn to Pink Shirt Day and other similar campaigns is that it offers us a feel-good “solution” to a known problem, without us having to give anything up. All we are asked to do is wear pink and donate a little money and we can go about our day believing the problem is solved. If we are forced to abandon the word “bullying” and talk openly about patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, and the exploitation inherent in capitalism, we will be forced to acknowledge our own relative privileges within these power relations. When Amanda Todd committed suicide in 2012, the community was outraged at the horrific “bullying” she had been subjected to. The use of the word “bully” in this instance works to evade discussion of patriarchy and rape culture. We’re told the solution is to “stop bullying now” rather than work towards dismantling rape culture, problematizing male privilege, and empowering young women.

While we’re on the subject of language and how it can be used to obscure the truth, let’s consider who exactly a “bully” is. “Bully” is a word we use to call a human being. Naming a person “Bully” allows us to dehumanize that person and ignore the possible reasons behind their violent behaviour. How many times have we heard the tale of a school bully getting abused at home? This child is rendered powerless by his parents, and therefore seizes power in the only place he can – on the playground – and in the only way he has been taught how – through violence. If we really wish to eliminate bullying, we must look closely at the deeper causes.

People don’t often fit into distinct categories of “bully” or “victim”. Many of us do find ourselves in both of these roles depending on the situation and the specific power dynamics involved. Using language that enforces this binary is overly simplistic.

Pink Shirt Day does give the problem of inter-student violence status in the classroom and in the national consciousness, but I worry that the campaign elevates the image of solidarity above actual acts of solidarity. Perhaps wearing pink on February 25 is a step in the right direction; or perhaps it is a shallow distraction from considering the complex power relationships that underscore violence. Either way, the question must be asked: Does this pink shirt say enough?

23 Questions About the SHOCKING New Renee and Uma

RENEE ZELLWEGER
Who IS this anyway?

Stop the presses. Two women who used to look a certain way, now look different.

Renee Zellweger had the audacity to change her look. Now, Uma Thurman has done so! CTV put it this way: “Uma Thurman has Zellwegered her face.” And if you follow the CTV link, you can use a slider to examine her before and after pictures, which is your right, as a consumer of media!!!!!!

Uma Thurman
And who is THIS?

 

  1. What have they DONE to themselves?
  2. Does it matter?
  3. Who are we to ask?
  4. What do they owe us?
  5. Should we expect to see them always the same?
  6. What are we entitled to?
  7. Should they have asked our permission to change/age/alter/be-without-makeup/whatever?
  8. Will this hurt their career?
  9. Will people long for how we used to know them?
  10. Have we ever REALLY known them?
  11. Was age to blame?
  12. Are they ageing?
  13. Can’t they stop that?
  14. Are we capable of accepting them as older people?
  15. They’re not in their 40s are they?
  16. Do we end up feeling older by looking at them age/change their look?
  17. Do we value wisdom or elders?
  18. Do we fear death?
  19. Who makes us so ageist?
  20. Can we blame corporations, the corporate media, consumer culture, celebrity worship?
  21. Can we blame ourselves?
  22. Is it our fault that this is even a story?
  23. Have I asked all the questions that need to be asked?

You Deserve Better Wages and Benefits

Canadas_Pay_Gap

Right wingers want to pay no tax. It’s hard to bleat about that in public without sounding like the greedy, selfish people they are.

Instead, they say that public sector workers are paid too much, and that we should privatize everything. THAT way, governments get to starve themselves to the point where they collect virtually no taxes.

Instead of letting rapacious corporations dictate what market wages should be, we should explore living wages, then dream up a world not so different from ours when private sector workers make the stable wages and benefits of public sector workers.

Dream with me, what would that look like? Read on, and if it sounds good, click the link for the rest of the analysis!

If private sector compensation looked more like public sector compensation, the gender wage gap would narrow, discrimination against Aboriginal and visible minority workers would diminish, and CEOs would take a pay cut. Older workers would be less likely to retire into poverty. Fewer working parents would have to choose between a day’s wage and taking time off to look after a sick kid. Unemployment rolls would not double overnight in response to global market shifts.

via Who gets paid more? | CCPA Policy Note.

MORE Sexism Against Female Canadian Athletes!

Embedded image permalink
THIS picture respects the dignity of a tennis player. Not, “give us a twirl” demeaning, sexist abuse.

Today is a terrible day for gender equity in sports. What it looks like is either continued sexism, or increased anti-feminist backlash against women who have been asserting their human rights to safety and dignity around the world.

  1. Female World Cup soccer players have to play on plastic artificial turf while the men have played on actual…grass. They started a human rights complaint but have now dropped it.
  2. And last year at the Australian Open, an idiotic [female!] Australian media interviewer asked Genie Bouchard after she won a match who she would date. Because female athletes are meat, right? And today, an idiotic [male] Australian media interview ASKED HER TO GIVE US A TWIRL!

That’s twice in two years that the Australian media are living down to their country’s stereotype of sexist pigs while interviewing her.

I wonder if this media fellow was pondering what he could get her to do and settled for a twirl.

Bouchard later said, “I don’t know, an old guy asking you to twirl. It was funny,” she said. NO ONE should be put into this idiotic position.

This continues to be intolerable!

Who Cares About Fixing Poverty in BC?

https://i1.wp.com/bcpovertyreduction.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/prc-slider_BC-last-place-745x210.jpg?resize=396%2C112Well, it’s the Poverty Reduction Coalition!

One of their many activities is to send recommendations to the government when the government deigns to ask people for their ideas. The Finance Committee is an all-party committee of the legislature, so the government usually ignores their recommendations.

As citizens, we need to make the government respond to our demands, particularly when legislative committees provide pretty good recommendations!

Here’s what’s going on this year, from the Poverty Reduction Coalition.

  1. Read it, below
  2. Then email, phone [250.387.1715], tweet or Facebook the premier and tell her to listen to the Finance Committee this year
  3. Then read the Coalition’s latest op-ed: Trish Garner: B.C. is now last province without a plan to tackle poverty
  4. Then visit the Coalition’s webpage and get more involved in making BC a less shameful place!

From the Coalition:

After our submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, they have now released their report, which again recommends to the Legislative Assembly that the provincial government “introduce a comprehensive poverty reduction plan” but this time it also includes stronger features to “review income assistance rates, the minimum wage, and clawback of child support payments.” Also, last year’s “Look at ways to provide more affordable and accessible quality child care” is now “Provide funding and support for the development and implementation of a child care plan.” See the full report here.

Who Are the Main Caregivers for People with a Parkinson’s Diagnosis?

tips to manage caregiver stress and burnoutIt’s women, of course, who pick up the slack when our healthcare system neglects people. It’s either picking up the slack or being the excuse for systemic neglect.

The main informal caregiver was typically a woman (62%), lived in the same household (72%), and provided assistance on a daily basis (76%). For the most part, the recipient’s spouse was the main informal caregiver (64%).

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/141119/dq141119b-eng.htm?cmp=mstatcan

The Election-Eve Racist, Sexist Attack on Olivia Chow

If this cartoon were published, say, 2 weeks before the election, it would have been debated as a tool of racist, sexist propaganda and yet another blemish on corporate media. Her support would likely have grown after such a brutally immature attack.

But because politics is a dirty, disgusting, sociopathic game, it was published the day before the Ontario municipal election.

Read what Olivia Chow thinks of it below:

View image on TwitterChow told CP24 she thinks the cartoon is “disgusting.”

“Because I am Chinese-Canadian, I must be a communist and have slanted eyes and glasses … and since I am a woman, I must be inferior and therefore not good enough for the job of the mayor so I must rely on my deceased husband so it both racist and sexist,” she said.

via Toronto Sun’s Olivia Chow Cartoon Slammed As Racist (TWEETS).

If You Read But One Thing About Universal Childcare This Week

Line them up here. In this one section of universal childcare analysis by one of the smartest people in the country, Michal Rozworski, we see a number of significant policy issues addressed:

  1. affordable childcare.
  2. universality.
  3. feminism.
  4. including mothers in the workforce more effectively.
  5. a better shot a living wage for childcare workers.
  6. national standards.
  7. standardized curricula and best practices.
  8. economies of scale [for those obsessed with the business plan]

Ultimately, a winning paragraph in a winning analytical piece

While caring for children is an essential task, it is also an unequally distributed chore according to gender and made difficult by unequal material circumstances. A universal system of childcare would at least give more mothers more choice about how to use their time and facilitate their participation in the workforce if they choose. In addition, and especially if it were publicly delivered, it could improve working conditions for childcare workers, standardize curricula and levels of care and increase efficiency via economies of scale.

Why the NDP’s childcare proposal has irritated all the right people | Ricochet.