Archive for the 'Activism' Category

Good things

I am in such a wonderfully good place right now. There are still enough days between now and due dates that I’m not yet in full freakout, and I am surrounded by the most wonderful and caring people anyone could know. It began yesterday with some sweet things my kids said, then I was surprised late at night with warm sticky rice in coconut milk topped with cashews and a glass of good wine. Today this was followed up with kids who are excited to be learning to write secret codes in binary/ascii, who laugh, joke around and tell me they love me, and finally an end of semester party with Actiongirls and the Women’s Studies Student Association. These men and women are fun, intelligent, committed to social justice, the environment, feminism, and friendship. It feels so good to be a part of the group. Thank you Carol, Aubrey, Tina, Mike, Edith, David, Allison, Catherine, and Korinne. As for the party: good food, soooo much garlic, and a great theme picked out for next semester’s art-performance-extravaganza: Cliterature! Call for submissions coming out supersoon… stay tuned.

5 Things Feminism Has Done for Me

Things are looking pale for women in Canada. See this excerpt from, the site dedicated to reporting the latest news about funding cuts to Status of Women Canada.

Beverley Oda, Minister of Heritage and Status of Women, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have taken drastic steps away from women’s equality.

On September 25, 2006, the federal government announced a 5 million dollar (40%) cut to SWC’s administrative budget.

On October 3rd, they removed the very word “equality” from SWC’s mandate and changed the rules so that women’s groups cannot use federal funding to do advocacy or lobbying.

To draw awareness to the funding cuts from the Status of Women Canada, Progressive Bloggers are running a campaign, asking bloggers to post 5 things feminism has done for them. Here are mine:

1- I did not have to stay in an abusive marriage. I exist in Canada as an individual, not my husband’s (or father’s) chattel.

2 – I was able to return to school while raising my kids – as a child I was taught to read. Not all girls have this opportunity. Because there are feminists I got to go to school.

3 – I am able to learn and work in the male-dominated field of technology. Nobody tells me I can’t like computers because I’m a girl. And if they did I wouldn’t listen anyway.

4- I do not have to fear an unwanted pregnancy. I have access to safe birth control. No one can force me to have sex and get away with it.

5 – My children know women who are capable, strong, intelligent, creative, and not afraid to stand up for what is right. Feminists are powerful role models. For all of us.

Now I tag:

Alexandra A
Sue Richards
Alexandra Samuels
Windchine Walker

We Will Not Be Silent! Media Violence Against Women Must End!

This text was written collectively by Actiongirls, a student and community group based out of the University of Windsor in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. This action has consumed us for the past month and we need your help. Please read through to the end and help us in our campaign however you can. There are some ideas to get you started at the end of the post.

Thank you from Candace & Actiongirls


In recent weeks, posters could be seen all over Windsor, Ontario, claiming that three women were Missing. The posters included photographs of three local women, along with their names, ages and identifying features, but were not in fact a Missing persons report or alert and instead were an advertisement calling for a mock ‘Search Party’ at a downtown nightclub to ‘celebrate’ a local band’s single and video release there.

missing women poster

The three women featured on the Missing poster are actually actors in the band’s video. Both the poster campaign and video were created by a media consultancy company in Windsor, Mimetic

video poster for Held Back

The video featured at the release party, is made in the genre of a snuff film – the women featured in the Missing posters are each violently kidnapped, and held captive, bound and gagged in a basement. Each woman represents a former girlfriend of the lead vocalist, and he blames each for his present mental state. He attempts to possess them, stroking and fondling them while they are terrified and physically captive and restrained, unable to defend themselves or escape. Following this torture, he leaves and a heavy steel door slams. He leaves the women to their fates – death from starvation and dehydration. As he leaves, we see the man carrying a rose for his next victim.

An awareness campaign was launched in Windsor soon after discovering this Missing poster marketing gimmick and its association with a violent misogynist video. This campaign – launched by a local feminist collective Actiongirls – aims to highlight the reality of missing women and the role of media violence in perpetuating the victimization of women. This reality is callously disregarded in this advertising campaign and video.

end media violence against women signs

Actions so far have included a march at night through Windsor’s nightclub district, with a small group of women activists carrying noisemakers and signs protesting profit from tragedy, media violence against women and calling for ethics in advertising. This march was met by a small counter-protest. Two women from Actiongirls were also interviewed on local CBC television news (Friday, 10 February, 2006).

The backlash:

Activists from Actiongirls have been continually harassed since their campaign against these fake Missing posters and the video began. Continual attempts are being made to intimidate us and silence our protest – whether in the form of letters to the University of Windsor hierarchy (the group is based on campus) alleging that protest activity is slanderous and calling for Actiongirls to be reprimanded; or in the form of derogatory online anti-feminist backlash; or ingenuous and insulting plays at placation – for example, coffee and cake with the director of the video! We do NOT take candy from strangers,



The kidnapping, beating, rape, torture, and killing of women is a real horror – one that should not be exploited for profit by anyone. With more than 500 Aboriginal women missing in Canada alone, and thousands of women kidnapped for use in the sex trade or worse, the use of an advertising campaign depicting women as falsely Missing is a dismissal of real pain and terror. Depicting this pain and terror in a music video goes further to justify the continuance of violence against women and especially to justify this kind of treatment of women by men.

image of fighting woman


What can you do to support this activism against media violence and the use of missing women as a marketing tool?

  • Contact the company and tell them what you think of their Actions:
    Mimetic Productions:1677 Albert Road, Windsor,
    Ontario, N8Y 3R4; Fax: 519-254-3904;
  • Contact MuchMusic and voice your concerns about the gratuitous depiction of violence against women in this video before the video is added to their rotation:

    Craig Halket, Senior Music Programmer,
    Much Music, 299 Queen Street West,
    Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2Z5; Fax: 416-
    591-6824; email:

  • Contact your local media outlets to alert them to our awareness campaign and the subsequent attempts to silence it, or contact The Windsor Star, who continues to support this company and refuses to publish community complaints:
    The Windsor Star Group Inc., 167 Ferry
    Street, Windsor, Ontario, N9A 4M5; Fax:
    519-255-5515; email:
  • Come out and join us for a march to express community solidarity in opposition to media violence, violence against women and profiting off REAL missing women!

    We will not be silent!

    Saturday March 25th, 2006
    Dieppe Park
    (corner of Riverside Drive and Ouellette)
    Windsor, Ontario

  • Create anchor text on your own site or blog that links Mimetic Productions to this post. Use this code if you want a quick and easy cut and paste:

    <p>Media Violence Against Women Must End! What you should know about <em><a href="" title="We will not be silenced">Mimetic Productions</a></em>.</p>

For more information contact:

It ain’t easy

These ‘happy’ posts are easy. Essays about sexism, feminism, culture, i.e. ‘Issues’ are easy too. For the ‘happy’ posts, all that’s required is making a list about my day, noting a few good things. For an essay, I just do some research, often something I’m doing for school anyways, maybe form an opinion or take a stance, depending on the type of essay, but really, it’s all pretty academic. I mean, it’s work, but it’s all relatively straightforward.

Blogging about ourselves is sometimes straightforward – like the happy posts from last week. But sometimes, publishing a blog post puts us out on the line. A real line. I talked about this a bit in this post, about how often do we play down our politics.

I’m involved in an action campaign which began through a club at school. The backlash has been personal and at times overwhelming. I’ve debated writing about it but fear potential backlash on my own ground. Of course, without posting about it I can’t enlist the support I might get from the community of bloggers that come here to visit.

Feminist backlash is not just some academic thing that happens to other people. It happened to me and is happening to me still. If I find the courage this weekend I might put up the post. I sure could use the support.


I have slept most of this weekend. I am in the midst of midterms and struggles with life, work, love and have no energy for any of it. I’m ready to quit it all and crawl in my hole (yet again) until I’m stronger.

But of course, I don’t get that choice. The exams require my presence, the jobs must be done, and you can’t not deal with life just because it’s hard. It’s just not fair.

This week, for the first time since I started this degree, I considered not handing in a paper. I figured one mark a day is the usual penalty and a quiet weekend to work on it would make it a much better paper than the draft I had so far…but then I checked the syllabus: “papers handed in after the due date will not be accepted.”. Of course I started to cry and then worked until 3:30 a.m. at which time I fell asleep in the chair for a few hours. I woke up at 5 to finish it and then at 9 a.m. handed in probably the worst paper of my career. The paper wasn’t difficult which is why it makes it so much harder to take. It came down to not having had sufficient time to work on it. Sufficient days, yes, if I didn’t have other responsibilities, but not with the life I currently lead. (Hence the previous post about having to Cut Cut Cut from my list.)

Did I mention the uti? Read more »

Please let this be true: The FemINist INitiative of Canada

It’s cold. And snowing. Sitting in Harper’s Canada, I’ve just been given something to hope for. INtegrity – INclusiveness – INnovation – INvolvement – who could ask for more?

It started in May 2005 and the time has come to go national. A new political party is taking shape: The FemINist INitiative of Canada and there’s nothing yet on Snopes saying it’s a hoax.

Please let this be true. Read more »

Is being feminist ‘enough’?

When I was an unruly teen my father used to frustrate himself with my determination to always root for the underdog. This has redefined itself in my adulthood as a call to issues of social justice. I feel strongly about issues – in other words – give me an issue and I’ll feel strongly about it. Whether it’s porn on an ipod or fairtrade coffee or debeaking chickens or dealing with feral cats – I’ll carry it with me and it will colour most everything I do.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we support more than one cause when possible. Read more »

“Feminism for Sale”

THIS magazine, “the leading alternative Canadian magazine of politics, pop culture, and the arts” still says that Heath and Potter’s article “Feminism for Sale” will be online soon. Harumph. I’m about ready to give up. I’ve been waiting since at least November for it to go public to put up this post. How can we have a thorough discussion of the article and its issues until the editors make it available? I read the print article and was blown away by it – there’s no way that these two can be taken seriously. With this week’s Carnival of Feminist being about Feminism and Pop Culture I figured now was the perfect time to post it – maybe the article will still make it up someday. Or maybe THIS Magazine has changed their mind following the backlash in their letters section. john_d at the THIS Magazine blog says, “I don’t know if any THIS Magazine article has ever received more letters of complaint than Feminism for Sale.”

So in case you haven’t read it: Heath and Potter provide a superficial overview of the second wave feminist movement. Although they make reference to some ‘big names’ and a partial agenda of the 1960s and ‘70s women’s movement, they do not give credit to the depth of issues interrogated, the progress made, the personal empowerment of large numbers of women and the impact second wave feminism has had around and beyond the American borders.

It is hard to have a neutral reaction to this piece. Whether or not a reader believes that feminism has lost its steam and that the women at the forefront of the second wave have sold out to the technocracy (THIS Magazine, September 2005, p. 220), readers will definitely find themselves engaging in (and I hope vehemently objecting to) the writing of Heath and Potter.

Within any activity or organization, there are always pieces to criticize, feminism and feminists of yore included. However, Heath and Potter hardly present both sides of the story, preventing readers from drawing their own conclusions. Perhaps because this piece was written for publication in a magazine it draws more heavily on emotional persuasion through its chosen topics and the style of language used. Its purpose is not to present facts or inform but to persuade, challenge, and even enrage. THIS Magazine’s focus is alternative pop culture and political issues and certainly feminism and the second wave fall into these categories. Unfortunately, because their approach is to enflame rather than methodically critique the second wave it is difficult to accept their article as a legitimate critique of contemporary feminism.

The first question to ask regarding this article is who are Heath and Potter? What authority do they have to speak of – and comment on – feminism? Whose voice do they represent and whose interest do they protect? Further, whose voices do they present? The authors do not provide first-hand experience with either the second wave or third wave women’s movement. To truly understand a movement or a perspective it is necessary to enter it and participate. Heath and Potter show no indication of actually having spoken to today’s feminist activists. There are no personal anecdotes of third-wavers, no quotes, nothing. Where are the women????? Again and as always, they are hidden beneath the voice of patriarchy, the very voice Heath and Potter represent. Their failure to situate themselves weakens their credibility.

And another thing! Where are the Canadian voices? THIS Magazine is a Canadian publication yet the feminists Heath and Potter discuss are all American. Everywhere we turn, Canadians are subsumed by Americana: culture, technology, politics, and the arts. Here, in this counterculture magazine of all places, an effort be should made to include Canadians and Canadian content, whether or not the authors support or recognize their activism. Given that the majority of Canadians will never pick up a copy of Herizons, where will they ever read about their Canadian foresisters? Heath and Potter do their best to make sure it is not going to be in THIS Magazine. Canadian women are alive and kicking and it is time that this is recognized.

Regarding the issues discussed in Heath and Potter’s article, I want to address these that I think are especially significant: women’s self-esteem, rape/pornography, and the thrust of the second vs. third wave movement:

Heath and Potter claim that women have easy confidence, and are taking over universities and preparing to dominate the job market (214). Many women that I know struggle with their self-confidence and feel an incredible pressure from their surrounding culture to look and act a certain way. Where are the women to whom Heath and Potter refer? The rates of eating disorders among young women in Western society show that self-esteem hardly comes “easy” to women. Although there are increasing numbers of women enrolling in universities, these enrollments are hardly spread equally across all disciplines. Men still dominate engineering, science, math, graduate and doctoral programs, and higher positions of administration. To say “women are taking over universities” (214) is a gross misstatement. The same is true in the job market. Women continue to dominate the pink-collar ghetto and experience the phenomenon of the glass ceiling. Struggles to find the balance between career and family responsibilities prevent many women from “dominating the job market” (214) as Heath and Potter suggest. Perhaps including some statistics would help their position here – if there were any.

Heath and Potter should also back up their statement that “despite some vague claims about matriarchal societies in the distant past, most of the available evidence suggested that all major cultures throughout history were patriarchies” (216). This is pre-history. There are no written texts from this period. Modern archeologists have to interpret artifacts without any input from ancient peoples. I will concede that research supporting matriarchies is impossible to confirm but it is equally difficult to disregard what has been uncovered. To suggest that the evidence favours patriarchy over matriarchy when there is no way to confirm either is unacceptable.

Further disturbing is Heath and Potter’s discussion of rape. They claim that an “entire generation of young men is now entering adulthood, having come of age in an environment that is completely saturated with pornography” (219). Heath and Potter claim that according to MacKinnon’s work, this saturation should have led to the “ultimate nightmare scenario” (219). Heath and Potter fail to recognize FEMINIST campaigns regarding education about sexual consent (e.g. No means No), the emergence of porn/erotica without scenes containing violence against women and other sexual forms of expression that continue to grow (e.g. online instant messaging and chat rooms). But even given all of this, men still rape. How much rape per capita are Heath and Potter willing to accept? Feminists say NONE. If one woman is raped it is a sign that men still feel the power, desire, and ability to dominate women and this is a problem. Moreover, regarding their claim that we have not entered a sexual apocalypse: there are many signs that this is indeed upon us. Sex, that is, women’s sexuality, is commoditized and enlisted to sell anything and everything. Sexual harassment is a reality in the workplace, in schools, and in society-at-large, and little girls’ clothing is sexualized to the point where lingerie stores have storefronts which cater to girls who have not yet hit puberty. Children are being exploited as sexpots! To me, this bodes apocalyptic.

Heath and Potter suggest that at the core of the second wave movement was women’s “collective victimization” and this contrasts with the third wave focus on “personal responsibility and individual achievement” (220). They criticize third wavers of culture jamming the second wave’s critique of culture (220). What Heath and Potter do not recognize is that the second wave accomplished much more than a critique of “beauty culture, sexual abuse, and power structures” (220). These activists made progress for women in the workplace, in sexual liberation politics, and in the culture of the day. The result of this is that third wavers have a greater public visibility than previous generations. And yes, since there are more women with independent lives and resources, there will be more *stuff* created by them and for them. Art and business can go hand-in-hand and it was never the intention of the second wavers that women take a vow of poverty. What they asked was that women make conscious choices regarding their consumption. Creating and owning property does not make today’s women sell-outs to their forerunners. It means that we have had progress. Before the second wave, it was still difficult for women to have earnings to invest in their own enterprises. Now they do. This is good.

Activism never ends. For each goal that we reach many more are discovered along the way. Feminists are in the struggle for the long haul, whether the issue is the beauty/cosmetic industry, sexual abuse, gendered division of labour and equality in the workplace, etc. Heath and Potter do not give any credit to the extensive achievements that were made by the second wave women’s movement. Perhaps this article has been effective in jarring people from any impending complacency and inciting them to action before mass society has the opportunity to believe what they read in This Magazine.

So pardon me Heath and Potter: this is OUR revolution and while you are welcome to join us, until you talk to the women doing the work here, we will speak for ourselves, thank you very much.

Canadian Federal Election

We’re up for another federal election in just over a week. The Green Party has chosen not to put up signs this time. Not only are signs an eyesore in the community and a big litter maker post-election (and often during) but they are also doing this in an effort to make a responsible spending choice. What value do signs contribute to people and their environment? Read more »

Our Influence on Language: “Podcast” is now a word

This story today announces that the word “podcast” has made it into the New Oxford American Dictionary 2006. Originally coined as a combo of ‘ipod’ and ‘broadcast’ the word has spread into popular culture and beyond. My extended family now knows what a podcast is. My children know. Their friends know. The widespread popularity has legitimized the word and the practice and it’s no longer some geeky 1337 thing. Read more »

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