Tag Archives: Girls

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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“Kimmy Goes to a Play” as a Conversation Between Tina Fey and Asian American Activists

The culture war is a conversation.

While it is ultimately a conflict, more often than not this takes the form of ideas and criticism being slung back and forth across the trenches. To be heard is a minor success, but to be actually understood is victory.

Within this conversation it’s undoubtedly artists, especially those who have garnered celebrity status, who have the most powerful voices.


In 2014 the eponymous host of The Colbert Report featured a segment on his show about “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”. Given his popularity it reached far and wide, and was eventually viewed by a Twitter activist who created the hashtag #CancelColbert in response.

chingchongcolbert

As it was meant to call attention to and ridicule the outrageous fact that a national sports team is named after an ethnic slur the response was out of line. It was a classic case of [obvious] satire being taken the wrong way, but by inadvertently contributing to what has been dubbed “a fake year of outrage’ this person’s misstep resulted in others who campaign for better representation and the like being worse than silenced, which is to say, ignored.

Despite calling out from what is ostensibly the same side, the misstep of a single loud voice meant that others were unheard.


The exchange between artist and critic is rarely ever an even one, and only becomes more difficult given the sensitivity surrounding such personal creative endeavours.

Lena Dunham is the star and creator of HBO’s Girls, and received enough disapproval about the lack of diversity in a show set in New York City that she was asked about it by NPR. She responded that “[she takes] that criticism very seriously,” and that very same year had Donald Glover playing Hannah’s Black boyfriend on the show.

While the presence of Sandy on the dramedy was a beneficial one, with arguments between the two capturing the tension that can be present in interracial relationships [including such exchanges as: “I never thought about the fact that you were black once.” / “That’s insane. You should, because that’s what I am.”], Glover’s character faltered in that he was very much a response to criticism. Continue reading

5 Privileges I’m Thankful for on International Women’s Day (and That I Want All Women to Enjoy)

Today, on International Women’s Day, I’ve been reminded of how grateful I should be. Maybe it’s because I’ve been flipping through images of women’s protests around the world. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching sentimental videos that make me feel inspired (even if they are marketing ploys by Google). Either way, I can’t help but feel grateful.

By the time this post goes up around midnight tonight, it will no longer be International Women’s Day. Before then, I’d like to take a moment to be thankful, and highlight ways we can support other women in their fight to win these privileges too.

1. Freedom and Safety

When I get up in the morning, I do not feel afraid. My country is not at war. My physical safety is not threatened. Throughout history, this was not something most women could take for granted. In many countries around the world this is still something women cannot take for granted.

There are many organizations working to ensure women’s safety. There are a variety of organizations that are working to help women (and men and children) from areas like Syria that have been affected by war. Unfortunately, in unstable situations like these, rape and sexual violence become weapons of war. The Stop Rape Now website highlights a variety of organizations that work with victims of sexual assault and promote rape prevention education. Continue reading

In Defence of the Dress Code

There are so many things I hate about dress codes. I hate that they usually target girls and their sexuality, implying that a) if girls don’t cover their bodies boys will have no choice but to “lust” after them and b) a girl’s sexuality is something to fear. I hate that they imply that a woman’s character is based on her level of purity.

I hate that they become an opportunity for grown men to ogle young girls in order to better police what those young girls should wearI hate that they project gender roles onto young people. I hate that they go hand in hand with body- shaming young girls just when their bodies have started to change and they are still learning how to deal with those changes.

In contrast, I love seeing young women standing up for themselves on social media with hashtags like #IAmNotAnObject, #MyBodyMyBusiness, and #MoreThanADistraction. I love seeing them reclaim their bodies as their own, rather than some grown (or young) man’s fantasy. I love seeing them call out our education systems for continuing to prioritize boys over girls. I love seeing them call out the innate sexism at the centre of most dress codes Continue reading

Shame Day: The Boko Haram Kidnappings (and the reasons I postponed reporting it)

I’m currently living with my in-laws. At our house John and I almost never watch the news, but living with them means that most evenings I take in at least an hour or two of current events. For weeks I’ve been listening to CNN run flight simulations to try and guess where the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went. I’ve also seen hours of footage from the South Korean ferry accident, including the gut-wrenching clips of the young kids saying goodbye to their parents. Despite all of that it was only recently that I heard the first report of the group of girls kidnapped in Nigeria.

It’s possible that I just wasn’t watching at the right time, or that it wasn’t featured on Western news stations over the past few weeks because of attempts by the Nigerian government to downplay the situation. I’m definitely not saying that the case hasn’t been reported at all, since African and international media were reporting on this case long before we were over here. Continue reading

Naked Ladies and the Balance of Power

Not so long ago a friend sent me an article called 6 Reasons Female Nudity can be Powerful” by Soraya Chemaly. He wanted to know what I thought of it.

To give you some context I should tell you that this friend and I have debated on issues regarding sexuality and nudity since we were teenagers. Back in high school we would have probably taken polar opposite stances on an issue like this. I was a fairly indignant teenager who wanted her gender to be taken seriously, and since he was a teenage boy and boobs held a certain appeal for him I didn’t think his opinion could ever be unbiased. While we continue to debate on these issues now and then, I think we are both coming to slightly less extreme, and maybe more realistic, perspectives. And when it comes to this article I have to agree with him. Female nudity can  be a powerful tool.

According to legend, Lady Godiva rode through town naked in order to convince her husband to lower his taxes on the people of Coventry. This rendition is by Jules Joseph Lefebvre

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October 15: What’s Not Being Talked About In The News

For the most part, I try to keep my politics toned down here at CWR, but every once in a while, something comes along that straddles the line between ideology and culture that’d be wrong not to talk about.

I’m guessing you may have heard of Malala Yousafazi.

Young Pakastani girl known for being a women’s education and peace activist, shot by a reported Taliban assassin just short of a week ago and just today being flown to England to continue her recovery.

You may have seen this picture of her:

But the picture you may not have seen is this one here:

That’s young Malala wearing a hijab, a head-covering worn by many Muslim women as part of their understanding of modesty. Yep, Malala’s a Muslim– but that’s something you’re not gonna hear on the news or read in your paper.If Islam is mentioned at all, chances are, it’s in reference to Malala’s would be assassin- not her (or her friends who were with her). Why is that? How come the same frenzied media attention that is devoted to listing off every attack or offense on the part of “Radical Islam” utterly fails to note the Islamic element when it’s related to something positive. I can understand- maybe even overlook- the fact that the news doesn’t offer any attention to the millions of Muslims (the ones I grew up with) who just go about their day without doing anything to anyone. But the moment  a Muslim man or woman stands up for what he or she believes, even going so far as be nearly murdered for those beliefs and actions, religion disappears from the picture.

And while we’re at it, there’s another thing that’s been bothering me.

You remember Pussy Riot? Feminist Punk Band who got into trouble for playing anti-Putin songs in a historic Russian cathedral?

Why is it that when they got convicted of “hooliganism” and were sentenced to two years in prison (a term waaay disproportionate to the crime) the world united in outrage, and when Leah-Lynne Plante was arrested-

Oh.

Who’s “Leah-Lynne Plante”?

She’s an activist up in Washington State whose apartment was raided by FBI and SWAT Teams. See, back on May 1st, there was some vandalism that occurred in Seattle and Leah-Lynne was a suspect.

How many people who have vandalized walls or billboards actually have the police investigate them, let alone the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force? Of those people, how many have black clothes and books confiscated as “evidence”?

Obviously this has about as much to do with vandalism as Pussy Riot’s sentencing had to do with disturbing the peace. See, Leah-Lynne Plante is a self-proclaimed anarchist, and after refusing for a third time to answer questions before a grand jury. Considering the Grand Jury that’s investigating these and other alleged anarchist criminals was first created in March (two months prior to when she allegedly committed these crimes) doesn’t exactly reflect well on the whole “liberty and justice for all” element of the legal system.

But that’s all beside the point.

The point is, you probably don’t know about it. Your news has almost certainly never reported it, and considering the similarities between the two cases, doesn’t Leah-Lynne Plante’s case deserve your attention just as much as anti-government rockers off in Moscow?

Your media doesn’t think so.

And I think we’re being asked too much. I think we’ve had enough.

See, you can’t pick and choose- if the media want to take the violent or oppressive actions of Muslims as being representative of their faith, they have to apply the same logic to Muslim heroism as well. The same goes for equal air-time. The news can’t report on a bunch of women in brightly colored balaclavas for being broadsided by the state and then whistle Dixie while one in a black shirt has her home raided by men in kevlar.

Consistency- I’m not expecting that the news be factual (and considering it’s the news, that’s a pretty big thing to let slide) but they have got to be fair
or stop calling themselves reporters. If they wanted to pick and choose their battles, they should’ve become bloggers instead.