Thursday, December 20, 2012

#IdleNoMore

I'm not doing so well at keeping up with my blog right now, but this is too important to let this space sit idle!

There's something very important happening in Canada right now. Earlier in November, four Aboriginal women in Saskatchewan got sick of how little was being done about yet another large bill being pushed through parliament by the current Conservative government, making sweeping changes to large numbers of laws without any meaningful input from invested parties (i.e., *ALL* of us!).

In this case, Bill C-45, which is set to become law as of December 10th, amongst its many effects has also drastically reduced the number of protected waterways in Canada and accelerated the process by which reserve lands held by Aboriginal nations can be surrendered.

These provisions have weakened Canada's environmental protections (we've also just become the first country to officially withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol) and further undermined the relationship (what relationship?) between the Canadian federal government and the nations of Original People in Canada, by failing to include them as equals in the discussion to make fundamental changes on issues covered by what were meant to be treaties between sovereign nations.

These four women started a Facebook page under the name "Idle No More", to keep themselves motivated. Their actions struck a chord and although the bill was ultimately passed, nationwide rallies have been held since December 10th, with a huge round of demonstrations planned for tomorrow as well, not only in Canada, but also the US, UK, and Egypt (and perhaps more places).

Also since December 10th, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has been on a hunger strike to protest the fact that a year later, her northern community is still in a housing crisis and Prime Minister Harper still will not meet with her and her fellow Aboriginal leaders to deal with it. A number of protestors have also been doing hunger strikes in solidarity.

Solidarity for this movement has also been shown by a number of not specifically Aboriginal groups, including trade unions, environmental groups, and Occupy Canada. The mainstream media was very slow to cover the movement at first, but in the last week that seems to be changing. 

It is hard to put into words why this is so important without going on a long historical and political rant as well. But, honestly, it's important for the same reason that all of these movementsArab Spring, Occupy, the Quebec student protests, hell, students revolutions all over the world and throughout history! The million man march, Stonewall, you get my drifthave been important. I don't need to go into the details of Canadian-Aboriginal relations or the nuances of our current political milieu to capture what it is that resonates about angry, fed-up people who are nonetheless full of love and hope taking to the streets in an effort to connect with people who will feel the same injustice as they do, and fight with them to end it.

Please, show your solidarity with IdleNoMore, whether it's joining a demonstration, tweeting a supportive message with the #IdleNoMore hashtag (as ever, social media has played a huge role in facilitating this movement), or taking a moment to read some articles, educate yourself further, help combat the misinformation that is still being spread about Aboriginal people in Canada, and pass hope along.

I'll leave it with this video of one of the first rallies in the city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan:



[description: video and photo-montage of Indigenous protestors in the streets of a Canadian city in winter, holding protest signs and marching, set to the song "One Tribe" by the Black Eyed Peas. The introductory statement, by a single Aboriginal man, is, "We are here for one voice, one reason only, and that's to say no to this legislation. What we are going to do, and I've been honoured to speak on all your behalf to let you all know,  to communicate that we are going to occupy the street, permit or not. (crowd cheers) So have your cameras ready to record this day. This is only one day. The work begins from here. What better time than now? It's time to wake up this city. It's time to wake up this country. We are here to act with common sense, decency, and integrity. (cars honking) Because our human rights have been violated and will continue to be violated if you stand idle. Are you going to stand idle anymore? (crowd shouts, "No!")".]

WE ARE ALL TREATY PEOPLE.

Friday, October 5, 2012

quick hit: "India’s improbable champion for affordable feminine hygiene"

This fantastic article showed up the Globe & Mail today:
In 1998, Mr. Muruganantham was newly married and one day he noticed his wife, Shanthi, skulking out of the room carrying rags and newspaper. When he asked her why, she first told him it was none of his business. Eventually she admitted that she used the paper when menstruating. "I said, 'You're an educated woman, why aren't you using sanitary pads?' " She responded tartly that if she and her two sisters-in-law were all to buy them, the family budget would suffer. [...] Menstruation is a treated squeamishly in most societies, including this one. Yet all over the world a lack of access to affordable and safe sanitary products keeps girls out of school, prevents them from working and makes them vulnerable to infections that develop when they use items such as corn husks, old newspaper or rags packed into underwear. [...] Mr. Muruganantham launched an improbable one-man revolution to bring low-cost feminine hygiene products to the women of India. [...] After seven years of toil that cost him almost everything, he perfected his sanitary pad, and the machine to make them – and has created an enterprise that employs 7,000 women across India and converted more than 3.5 million to the use of sanitary pads.
Things that I love about this story:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Today's Peeve: White Whine/First World Problems

"That is such a first world problem". "I know, I know, white whine."

It's hard to keep track, but I think I started noticing these phrases maybe a little over a year ago, maybe longer. On the Internet comment boards and among my friends at first, although as of last week Margaret Wente (a notorious social conservative Globe & Mail columnist – just try her piece on the Toronto Slutwalk for a [bad] taste of what she's about) used a composite of them in her article on why Anne-Marie Slaughter shouldn't have bothered talking about middle-class women's contemporary struggle to work and raise kids, in her piece, I have 'white people's problems,' and you probably do too.

(WARNING: Non-social conservatives should try to limit their daily Wente intake as overexposure tends to result in serious bouts of Luxan hyper-rage or going Super Saiyan.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

a series of apparently radical propositions about trans people

Good fucking god, there is a lot of hate in the universe. I'm just going to try to tip the scales a little bit here and put some love back out there, with some apparently RADICAL propositions*:

TRANS PEOPLE, INCLUDING TRANS MEN AND TRANS WOMEN AND NON-BINARY TRANS PEOPLE, ARE PEOPLE.

TRANS PEOPLE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE - THEY DON'T HAVE EVERYTHING IN COMMON WITH EACH OTHER AND EVEN THEIR EXPERIENCES OF BEING TRANS CAN BE VERY DIFFERENT FROM PERSON TO PERSON.

IT IS NOT UP TO CIS PEOPLE TO DEFINE TRANS EXPERIENCES FOR TRANS PEOPLE.

TRANS PEOPLE ARE NOT, AS A HETEROGENEOUS CLASS OF PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS COMPARED TO CIS PEOPLE. THEY DO NOT, AS A HETEROGENEOUS CLASS OF PEOPLE, POSE AN ESPECIAL RISK TO CIS WOMEN OR CIS LESBIANS (OR TO ANYONE, ACTUALLY).

NO ONE IS OBLIGED TO LOVE AND/OR FUCK A TRANS PERSON ANY MORE THAN THEY ARE OBLIGED TO LOVE AND/OR FUCK A CIS PERSON.

TRANS PEOPLE ARE, AS A HETEROGENOUS CLASS OF PEOPLE, AS WORTHY AS CIS PEOPLE, ANOTHER HETEROGENOUS CLASS OF PEOPLE, OF LOVE, RESPECT, AND PERSONAL SAFETY. HOWEVER, TRANS PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY THAN CIS PEOPLE TO BE DENIED THIS FACT OF THEIR EQUAL WORTHINESS TO LOVE, RESPECT, AND PERSONAL SAFETY AS A FUNCTION OF CIS PRIVILEGE AND TRANSPHOBIA.

THAT TRANS PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE DENIED THE FACT THAT THEY ARE EQUALLY WORTHY AS CIS PEOPLE OF LOVE, RESPECT, AND PERSONAL SAFETY AS A FUNCTION OF TRANSPHOBIA AND CIS PRIVILEGE IS A VALID ISSUE FOR TRANS PEOPLE TO TRY TO DISCUSS AND ADDRESS. THIS DOES NOT EQUATE TO RAPE OR MALE PRIVILEGE.

IF, AS A CIS PERSON, THE PHRASE "MALE PRIVILEGE" COMES TO YOUR LIPS MUCH FASTER THAN THE PHRASE "CIS PRIVILEGE", YOU CAN FUCK RIGHT THE FUCK OFF.


Source: Trans people, who have cleverly been figuring this stuff out for a while now.

Okay, that one is less of a proposition and more of a personal declaration that I'm thinking of having embroidered on a throw pillow. Context is irrelevant, because frankly the context is the same and different every day.

Meanwhile, places worth spending some time, especially if A) any of the above is still confusing to you and B) you are not a douchebag troll:

Questioning Transphobia

Taking Up Too Much Space

Genderbitch

Transgriot

Bird of Paradox

The Thang Blog

Dented Blue Mercedes

gudbuy t'jane

Taking Steps

Gender Kid

Feel free to point out other awesome spaces created trans people in the comments (content doesn't have to be exclusively trans issues-related, of course), including self-promotion. (I used to follow more trans guys' blogs, but a lot of them seem to be defunct now!!)


*Pun extra-fucking intended, you better believe.

Comments are fully moderated. No transphobic comments will be posted.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jekyll: the Romance of the Abuser

Okay, it's pretty late to be reviewing a miniseries that aired in 2007, but, screw it, I re-watched it this week and kind of saw it in a brand new way.

This BBC series, written by Steven Moffat (who is such an inconsistent writer I can't even begin... how he can write the spectacular "Blink" and then turn around and shit out the worst season of Doctor Who... blah!), re-visits the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in a contemporary setting. The series opens with Tom Jackman struggling to cope with the aftermath of his fiendish alter-ego's "adventures", without putting his family into danger. He is, however, being watched, and it soon becomes apparent that there's a deeper mystery afoot than just where Hyde parked the car.

Serious spoilers for the entire series below the cut, including major plot twists. Beware!

Also, Trigger Warning for pro-rape dialogue.


Friday, February 10, 2012

on being an ally: rolling with the unexpected

Here is a lesson I was reminded of this week: people aren't required to be offended on their own behalf. Specifically, this is something that comes up when you think or expect that someone who is a member of a marginalized group is going to be offended or hurt by something (maybe because other people from the same group have told you that they find the same thing offensive to them) and they aren't. In fact, they disagree that it's an issue at all, or at least one that merits discussion or serious critique.

Some examples of what I'm talking about:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Downton Abbey: the problems of nostalgia

Here is an attempt at doing a quick review of the British TV series Downton Abbey. Which is not called, as I (like many) first thought, Downtown Abbey.

Having seen only rave reviews but not the show itself, I bought the box set of the first series for my mother for Christmas, crossing my fingers that she would enjoy it. She called me the the day after Christmas with enthusiastic approval - yay, good daughter points! - so when I was struck down by stomach 'flu the next week, I mainlined the whole thing as a much-needed distraction. (When I wasn't spewing toxic green goo from every orifice of my body, that is.)

Overall impression? I can see why people like it and I enjoyed it enough myself to finish watching at least, but though the visuals amazed and enchanted me, I was less than delighted by how it coped with the inherent problems of nostalgia. That is, the celebration of a lifestyle and era which are inaccessible to many and problematic from a historical standpoint, or, to paraphrase Louis C.K., the social privileges of time travel (if we think of nostalgia and watching period pieces as a kind of metaphorical time travel).

[General spoilers for series 1 and 2 below the cut]