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Archive for the ‘its a feminist issue’ Category

The Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton launched a new campaign in November 2010. Me, being crazy-busy with school and placement and life, kept forgetting to spread the word on its brilliance. So here it is…

The typical sexual assault awareness campaigns we see specifically target potential victims: women. These campaigns focus on preventative measures women should use for their own safety. Women are told to restrict and modify their behaviour: always stay with a friend, never put your drink down, stay in safe spaces, etc. But what message is still being implied in these campaigns? The message is: “If you neglect one of these ‘rules’, and happen to be sexually assaulted or raped, of course it is not your fault, BUT . . . Maybe if you had just stayed with your friend, this wouldn’t have happened”. And there it is. BLAME. Victim-blaming and shaming.

So why do I love this new campaign so much? It shifts responsibility onto potential offenders. Because, aren’t the offenders the ones who make the choice to violate someone? The length of a woman’s skirt, in fact, has no actual effect on the decision of a man to rape a woman.

I therefore tip my hat to you Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton!

Check out their posters:

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December 6, 1989. It has been 21 years since the Montreal Massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. I was four years old when Marc Lepine shot and killed 14 women, injuring another 10 women and 4 men.

remember me, december 6 2010

We remember those soldiers who fought for our safety and freedom every November 11th. And they deserve to be remembered, I am not taking anything away from that. But we also need to remember the women who lost their lives due to violence. Furthermore, we must recognize that this act of violence was targeted specifically at women, and was one incident of a wider societal problem of systemic violence designed to oppress women.

The Sexual Assault/Rape Crisis Centre of Peel held a fundraising gala on December 5, 2010, to raise awareness of the issue of sexual violence against women. “And Still We Rise” was the theme of the gala, focussing on three words: “Revive! Resist! Rebel!” The gala was dedicated in honour to the 14 women killed on December 6, as well as the 582 First Nations sisters who have been disappeared (murdered/missing) throughout Canada.

Today I choose to remember these women:

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

and

Canada’s Stolen Sisters

Take a moment today to remember these women. Say their names out loud. Say the names of the women in your life who have experienced violence. Say your own name.

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Where is the discussion around the environment and sustainability?

The Globe and Mail is challenging Canadians to start some critical dialogue, in the hopes that these discussions will provide a better sense of how to define ourselves as a nation. Here is a blurb from John Stackhouse, the Editor-in-Chief of the Globe and Mail:

About Canada: Our Time To Lead

On Oct. 1, The Globe and Mail revealed a new look. This change coincides with the launch of a discussion that begins in our pages, but ultimately lives beyond them.

We hope, and intend, for this discussion to strike at the heart of how Canadians define ourselves, and our nation. It is meant to go beyond words. We hope it will become a turning point.

We need to re-examine Canadian institutions, and conceits, that we hold dear. Instead of locking ourselves in celebrations of the past, we want to explore our future — and all we can do to make it brilliant.

But what really can eight discussions over two months achieve? We hope they ignite a million great Canadian debates, at breakfast tables and board tables.

Start with The Globe and Mail. From there, it’s up to you.

Canada, it’s our time to lead.

Specifically, The Globe and Mail selected 8 topics for discussion that they feel are of prime importance to Canadians. These topics include: Multiculturalism, Women in Power, Failing Boys, Military, Work-Life, Health Care, Internet, and Food.

What I Like About This:

  1. Sparking debate and discussion – For the people who actually do read The Globe and Mail, I feel that these are topics that will spark a lot of discussion among Canadians. The 8 topics have many sub-issues that are important to critically analyse: ‘are we medicating a disorder, or treating boyhood as a disease?’ (the medication of children for ADHD); integrating multiculturalism into practice; whether to send Canadian military troops to the Congo; the effects of work stress on our lives, and consequently on the health care system; and the safety and traceability of our food.

What I Don’t Like About This:

  1. Ignores other important issues – One thing that really irked me about this is the assumption that the only concern addressing Canadian women, is that there are still relatively few female CEO’s. The Women in Power section begins with a piece entitled “Why the Executive Suite is the Final Frontier for Women”. Really? So women have equal rights and equal access to services and resources across Canada to men, EXCEPT in the business world? This section should have addressed the myriad of concerns that Canadian women face: poverty, access to health services, sexual violence, childcare, young girls and body image…
  2. Ask Canadians – Get out on the streets and ask Canadians what’s up! Granted, there will be many people who do not know about all the issues, so maybe hold free public speaks where people can become informed of the issues. Go to schools and present these issues to youths, and explain how they can get involved.
  3. Put it into action – Nowhere does it state that The Globe and Mail will be transforming these ever-so-important discussions into action. Why not write a policy paper and address these concerns to the Canadian government? If these issues are so important, why not do more about them than simply writing articles?

Do any of these issues stand out for you? Applause? Criticism?

What issue do you believe that Canadians need to discuss?

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1. Someone’s blog entry today read:
“It’s GREAT to be alive!” When is the last time you woke up in the morning and felt like saying that expression? When is it that you woke up with a smile on your face? What would it take for that to happen to you again? Do it!
What I love about this is how simple and instructional it is. Think hard. When were you last real happy? Like REAL happy! Not just pleased, or content. When did you last smile without realizing you were smiling? When did you last laugh so hard your stomach hurt? Who do you feel most happy around? Why were you so happy? What will it take to feel like that again? Got it? Now go do it.

2. In response to the multiple youth suicides over the last month and a half, I came across this article which looks at the tolerance of hate in Western (specifically American) culture.

3. This pizza looks absolutely mouth-watering!

4. On Thanksgiving Monday I went to visit my grandpa, who I had not seen since the end of May. My grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago, and this past June he moved out of the home he shared with my grandma and into a government-run facility for long-term care of seniors. The facility is called LeisureWorld. Sure, this name is suitable for the half of the facility which houses seniors who are still mobile, still active and essentially still ‘with it’. But for the other half of the facility, it really doesn’t work.

To be honest, I had not gone to visit my grandpa because I was scared. When my mum had moved her dad into the facility, I remember the look on her face when she was describing the facility, his room, his surroundings, the other people there. It freaked me out. And the thought of going there to see my grandpa in a place where he didn’t really belong, where he was separated from his loved ones, where he would eventually die, was effing scary. So yeah, I put off going to see him, I made plans and excuses and didn’t find the courage to go until this weekend. Thanksgiving dinner just wasn’t the same without him there — we didn’t hear the usual “as long as it’s free” jokes, or hear his booming laugh, or feel our hearts give a little sigh when he would call Grammy “little girl” after so many years together. So I felt it was time to go.

You know what? It was just as scary as I thought it would be. It was extremely intimidating walking into the facility, where hallways are clogged with seniors in wheelchairs, most of them staring blankly, some asking you to help them, others asking you to take them with you, and still others just happy to see people. As we entered my grandpa’s room, we found him asleep on the bed, and I immediately noticed how skinny he was. He hasn’t been eating much over the last few months. My grandma gently woke him, and we all hugged and kissed him our hello’s, to which I got a smile, and silently hoped real hard that he remembered me as we embraced.

Anyway, overall the visit went well. My grandpa made very little eye contact, and most of what is said to him does not always register. He’s trying though, I can tell. My mum and grandma decorated his room with pictures of his family, of his life as a pilot, of his favourite dog, and other pictures. I snapped a few quick shots of these. I’m in the process of a poem, but it’s not ready yet.

5. I’ve fallen behind on posting about my yoga challenge. I’ll get back on that soon.

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Naomi Rose Ebersol, aged 7
Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, aged 13
Anna Mae Stoltzfus, aged 12
Lena Zook Miller, aged 8
Mary Liz Miller, aged 7

On October 2nd 2006, Charles Carl Roberts entered an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and shot 10 young girls, aged 6-13. This man shot all 10 girls execution style, leaving 5 of the girls dead and the other 5 girls with wounds and memories to last the rest of their lives.

What makes this a feminist issue? We might assume that the schoolhouse was in fact an all-girls school, and hence we have the reason why it was only female students that were shot. But we would be wrong. When Charles Carl Roberts entered the schoolhouse with a 9mm-handgun, he ordered the female students to line up against the chalkboard, and sent the male students (along with a pregnant woman, and three parents with infants) out of the schoolhouse. However, this was not before he instructed the male students to bring inside items from his pick-up truck, which included: a shotgun, a stungun, wires, chains, nails, tools, and a bag which included sexual lubricant and flexible plastic ties.

This was an act of gendered violence. And it does not stand alone. Yesterday was the “Sisters and Brothers in Solidarity – A Walk for Justice, for Missing and Murdered Native Women”. The list of missing and/or murdered Native women across Canada has now reached 582 names. No one paid any attention until bodies began turning up on the farmland of Robert Pickton in 2002. On December 6th 1989, Marc Lepine shot and killed fourteen women at L’École Polytechnique in Montréal. While most people recognize the internalized hatred and sexism within Marc Lepine, others have praised his actions, hailing December 6 as St. Marc Day: “It has been established that it should be a day when we remember the first counter-attack against the feminazi’s war on men. By celebrating Marc Lepine and embracing him as a hero, it was believed that this would disturb the feminists’ plans and enrage them”. To most people, we see these acts for what they are: violence enacted against women based on their sex.

I came upon an article today reflecting on the Amish schoolhouse massacre, whereby the author posed the question: Was this act considered unforgivable? To be quite honest, I do not know how I would react if these acts had been committed against my sister, my relative, my friend. Thinking about it, I feel as though the anger and sadness would consume me, making forgiveness impossible. No amount of justification or explanation could lead me to extend my forgiveness to the now-deceased murderer. To the family, friends, and loved ones of the murderer? Hard to say. But this is exactly what the Amish community did: “though their hearts were filled with grief and shock, they reached out with compassion to the killers’ family”. It seems unfathomable to me at the moment. But we never really know what we are capable of — both in terms of our ability to be compassionate, and our ability to project anger and hatred — until we are faced with a situation of extreme sadness or grief.

Although I find the author of this article spends a little too much time contemplating if ‘the Amish have it right’, he closed his piece with a lovely idea:

“I can get as angry as the next person, and I think that a capacity for healthy and constructive anger is a necessary part of our emotional wholeness. Sometimes injustice needs to be corrected, and there are people in the world from whom we, and our children, need protection… Yes, there is unimaginable anguish and violence in the world. But when all is said and done, love might still have a strength that hate can never defeat.”

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