Tag Archives: discrimination

If Protecting Women Against Sexual Assault was the Point, Bathroom Preference Wouldn’t Be Our Main Focus

The bathroom use of transgender people has been a topic that’s hard to avoid, especially on social media. Here in Canada, the following video began to circulate after Alberta’s 61 school boards decided to “revise regulations and hash out new policies by March 31 to protect the rights of LGBTQ students and teachers, support gay-straight alliances and create a safe learning environment.”

And in the U.S., the American Family Association recently began a boycott of Target after the organization stated that transgender visitors should be allowed to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in. Meanwhile, several States have attempted to pass bills that would force “transgender people to use restrooms that don’t match the gender they live every day”.

Along with the debate, a variety of memes have popped up on both sides of the conversation. While it irritates me to see the particularly popular Chuck Norris-themed meme belittle transgender experiences, I thought trans activists were easily holding their own in the meme department by reminding readers of how difficult it can be to spot a transgender person, and therefore how ridiculous it is to police who enters which bathroom.

Unfortunately, there have already been several cases of bathroom policing, where women who aren’t deemed feminine enough are challenged for entering their bathroom (as might be expected, the video below includes some strong language).

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Filmmaker Christine Welsh on Tracing Her Heritage in Women In the Shadows

My Canadian studies class recently watched Women in the Shadows, a documentary by feminist filmmaker and professor, Christine Welsh. Not long after we had watched her film Welsh agreed to visit our class for a question and answer period. Below I’ve included a little of what I learned from her film and her visit.

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Norbert Welsh’s oral history was recorded by Mary Weekes.

In an article detailing her documentary experience, Welsh explains that her interest had been sparked when her mother recovered a copy of The Last Buffalo Hunter, an oral history by her great grandfather, Norbert Welsh. In the film, however, Welsh attempts to recover more information about her great grandmothers, figures who were much harder to trace.

Along her search, Welsh discovers the name of her great grandmother, Margaret Taylor, and Margaret’s mother, Jane. Welsh surmises that Jane was most likely Cree. Jane’s union with George Taylor meant that Margaret was one of the first generations of Metis women. While documentation about women was lacking during early colonization, Welsh was able to uncover some details about her foremothers because of Margaret Taylor’s connection to Hudson’s Bay Company Governor George Simpson.

In the early period of Canadian colonization, Hudson’s Bay employees often took “country wives”. These women, of First Nations or Metis heritage, would create family ties between the explorers and the local community and were often the reason their husbands survived their first few Canadian winters. In Women in the Shadows, Welsh discovers that Taylor had been Simpson’s “country wife” for many years, only to be cast aside by Simpson when he returned from a trip to England with a new white wife.

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Coming Out, Moving Forward

When I was last dating a man, I talked long and loud about my queerness. I objectified female celebrities with the gusto of a barely post-pubescent male; I loudly debated the finer plot points of such luminous queer media as MTV’s Faking It; I was here and I was queer and I was proud, and god forbid anyone think I was straight, just because I was dating a man. I was all too familiar with that sort of misconception, but in reverse: when I had dated a woman for the first time, in my last year of high school, we had done that most high school of things and changed our relationship status on Facebook. This led a group of people – people who had known me over the course of multiple years and witnessed many ridiculously dramatic and public instances of romantic interest in men – asking me over and over again if I was a “lesbian, now”.

Being tacitly bisexual is a constant parade of those sorts of questions (as is being openly bisexual, unfortunately, but to a lesser extent). My unwillingness to announce my sexuality to everyone I met meant that when I was dating a woman, people assumed I was a lesbian, and when I was dating a man, people assumed I was straight.

And I was tired of it. I was tired of desperately trying to flip my self-presentation every time I was in a relationship, tired of worrying if I was queer enough, not to mention whether I seemed queer enough. Those worries became even more present when I became the co-editor in chief of my college’s only LGBTQ+ campus publication. How could I position myself as a leader in the queer community when I was in an ostensibly heterosexual relationship? Would anyone take me seriously as a queer advocate and writer if I happened to be dating a man come publishing time? Continue reading

Unpacking the Importance of The Whiteness Project

I rarely double up on posts during the week, and I just wrote pretty great review of this month’s issue of Ms. Marvel [if I do say so myself], but I felt the need to spotlight a little something called The Whiteness Project and field a few more opinions from you about the entire thing-

I chose to feature the same guy The Guardian did, because how could I not?

I chose to feature the same guy The Guardian did, because how could I not?

The Whiteness Project is, to let their About page speak for itself:

“a multiplatform investigation into how Americans who identify as ‘white’ experience their ethnicity.”

This investigation is carried out through interviews with White Americans, some of whom you can see in the image up above. Speaking to the camera, and consequently us [due to their use of the Interrotron camera technique], these men and women share how they relate to and understand their ethnicity and what it means in today’s United States. Continue reading

Fame Day: Maysoon Zayid, Integrated Schools, and Bringing Special Needs into the Spotlight

Have you seen this TED talk by Maysoon Zayid? At around 11:50 in her stand-up routine she says something pretty profound that hadn’t really occurred to me before, despite having people with special needs in my life since I was a little girl:

“People with disabilities are the largest minority population in the world, and we are the most under-represented in entertainment.”


She makes a good point. Can you think of a movie about or including a person with special needs? How about a movie about/including a person with special needs where that person is played by someone with special needs? It’s a lot harder, isn’t it?

Try to think of something other than The Ringer, since I gave that one away.

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Shame Day: The White Man March

Two nights ago I posted an article to our Facebook page that listed tweets in response to some sort of White Man March. My first reaction upon coming across it for the first time, as I think most most people’s would be, was not so much what is this as why is this. My second was to ascertain that the tweets were in fact funny so that I could share them on social media and use them as a hook to create discussion [which they did not, but what are you going to do].

In coming up with today’s Shame Day post the march came to mind, but it dawned on me that I knew literally nothing about it besides the fact that the internet thought it was ridiculous.

I did what I consider to be the bare amount of research possible and determined that, yes, the White Man March is indeed worthy of its own Shame Day post. Continue reading

Why I Do Need Feminism

This was originally going to be another of “Gordon’s Happy Monday Posts”. I’m serious, folks, I had every intention of changing things up from my typical doom-and-gloom tone and write about some lighthearted stuff for once. That’s what I had prepared for today. Wouldn’t ya know it, but I just happened to come across something so supremely stupid that I felt compelled to switch out our happy, uplifting topic with another message from the trenches.

What was that thing that robbed you all of sunshine and butterflies and stuff? It was a series of pictures on imgur of young women holding up signs explaining why they “didn’t need feminism” [sourced from the Who Needs Feminism? tumblr -Ed.]. I scrolled down, hoping at first they’d just be sarcastic comments, and once it became clear that wasn’t happening, that they’d really just be criticisms of the most off-the-wall elements of the movement (as Kat mentioned in her post this past Saturday).

They were not.

So let me take this time to go through ’em, picture by picture, and explain just how wrong they are. Continue reading