Archive for the 'Bodies' Category

SSHRCing

I’m working on a sshrc funding proposal. For those who aren’t familiar, funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canad makes the difference between attending and not attending graduate school. I’ve decided to pursue the PhD and working on the proposal is both exciting and frustrating. I’m working with vague ideas about women, violence, and the internet but since we know that this is a huge issue it’s taking a long time to get a focus and research question.

I’m kicking around ideas about why gendered violence occurs online, cultures of resistance against the harassment, why certain individuals become targets/victims and their agency, Lessig’s four pillars of internet governance (norms, laws, architecture, market), the role of the internet in constructing women’s bodies, identities, consciousness (this taken from Romano’s piece below), and of course what to do about it all, but first understanding it from a philosophical perspective.

Maybe I’ll come back and link these up later but if you’re curious about any of them I advise select text > right click (control+click on mac) > search in google.

On my desk with highlighter poised I’ve got:

  • Alison Adam: Cyberstalking and Internet pornography: Gender and the Gaze
  • Adam: Gender and Computer Ethics
  • Chat Garcia Romano: Beyond Tools: Technology as a feminist agenda
  • Leslie Regan Shade and Barbara Crow: Canadian Feminist Perspectives on Digital Technology
  • Barbara Crow and Graham Longford: Digital Restructuring: Gender, Class and Citizenship in the Information Society in Canada

I see history, philosophy, and com studies in this.

Also in the mix is Donna Haraway’s Simians, Cyborgs, and Women because you can’t talk about women and technology without the Cyborg Manifesto. How I missed the Cyborg Manifesto. It’s probably been two years since I last tried to get through understand read it.

It’s been a long day and I ran out of food hours ago. Even though I’m not done I have to leave for food and rest. I’ll be back early or work late at home or something because I need a draft for my letter writers in the morning.

If anyone has any great ideas let me know. I could use one before 9am tomorrow.

Uzma Shakir Quotes

Last week Uzma Shakir, GTA activist, visited Windsor to talk about activism, feminism, Islam, immigration, community, and violence against women, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, Sharia law, and the imperiled Muslim woman. I kept a running list of quotes from the talks I attended.

Here they are:

  1. “Kids don’t drop out of school, they’re pushed out because the knowledge is not meaningful.
  2. Multiculturalism is not just food, music, and dance. I call it Sari and Samosa Syndrome. We’re not talking about power — let’s talk about my right to wear hijab, about power and privilege.
  3. Activism is not about convenience. I cannot be antiracist all day and then go home at 5 o’clock, put my feet up and be a bigot.
  4. As a white person you can walk away when you get tired about talking about white privilege. A person of colour cannot walk away.
  5. Not all rappers are about guns and bitches.
  6. I can speak English. The gift of 200 years of colonialism: you come out of your mother’s womb speaking English.
  7. I had an arranged marriage. I arranged it myself.
  8. My family turns into a nuclear family by virtue of Immigration Canada.
  9. I was liberated in Pakistan, based on my class and family support. In Canada I feel very oppressed, marginalized. Here I had no daycare and all I can get is a shitty job.
  10. Contract work is precarious employment. It is contingent, temporary.
  11. Mothering [as a new immigrant] is about going through hell and having no one to talk to.
  12. I do parenting workshops to deconstruct the other parenting workshops.
  13. Social justice is hard work and messy work.
  14. Language is not neutral. Language is political.
  15. The Sharia Hysteria: if you want it you’re a Neanderthal, if you don’t want it you are a liberal.
  16. Muslims do not have a monopoly on oppressing women.
  17. I don’t get offended anymore. If I’m continually insulted I am frozen into inaction.
  18. If I am the standard and you are different from me then I have the power.
  19. When you get tired of anti-racism and social justice, remember those who cannot walk away. You’ve got to stand with them.
  20. I don’t mind being an immigrant. But my children were born here — their imagination of home begins and end in Canada. I can go home to Pakistan but this is home to my children.
  21. Pakistan has been colonized for 200 years but the colonizers went home. They left behind their cronies to watch over us. But in Canada, the colonizers never went home.
  22. I didn’t know I was being a feminist until I came here a week ago. I thought I was just a woman who liked to fight.
  23. We have to fight together. We have been marginalized and oppressed and if we’re not careful we’re going to marginalize and oppress someone else.
  24. Everyone wants to save the muslim woman. Some want to put the hijab on me and save me; some want to take hijab off me and save me; some want to bomb us and save me. Just give me a break man! I can save myself! I don’t need Western imperialism to save me or Western feminism riding on the coattails of Western imperialism to save me. I can save myself.
  25. Just because we are doing social justice does not mean we are socially just.
  26. We [immigrants and refugees] don’t come here to live in poverty. We don’t come for the weather and we don’t come for the food – we bring the food! We come for the democracy.
  27. To hurt someone is to sin. To watch someone else get hurt and do nothing is a greater sin.
  28. If you are a man you can be a feminist – if you are a man you
  29. must be a feminist because if you’re not you’re part of the problem.

  30. I wish all I had to worry about was [my son's] baggy pants and who he dates. I have to worry if he’s going to get arrested, if he’s playing basketball, out with his Black and Arab friends. This is part of mothering for black mothers, aboriginal mothers, and now it is true for Muslim mothers.
  31. My children keep me grounded and I keep them political.

More about Uzma’s visit here:
Sari and Samosa Syndrome

and here:
Uzma Shakir is Spending this Week in Windsor

Go Here, Read This

Catholic? Have a daughter? Your church would rather see her dead than raped, like Maria Goretti, sainted in 1950 in celebration of her 1902 murder by her would-be rapist. Virginity – even when you’re about to be raped – is more important than life. Got it? The murderer on the other hand lived a long life and according to Wikipedia, died peacefully in 1970. Too bad for Maria.

Great post from Natalia Antonova and the related post from Feministe.

Locavore Me

Coming up on Sunday July 27, 2008 at John R. Park Homestead is a new (hopefully annual) event called the Lakeside Locavore Lunch. From the Essex Region Conservation Authority calendar:

The Lakeside Locavore Lunch is a new special event taking place at the John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area on Sunday, July 27th from noon – 2:30pm. This event highlights ‘locavore’ opportunities in Essex County.

Enjoy an afternoon by the lake tasting locally grown foods and fine wines. ‘Food for thought’ will also be provided as local farmers and food producers share their specific knowledge about the delicious bounty that our region offers.

To enhance the experience ‘Fiddle and Friends’ will be providing traditional celtic and folk fiddle music. Admission is $15.00 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-16. Preregistration is required and spaces are limited.

To register phone: 519-738-2029 or email: jrph@erca.org.

I’d like to go but it crosses over with a family reunion obligation. If I can figure out a way to do both you can be sure I’ll be there. I’m surprised I haven’t seen any promotion for the event (I found the ERCA calendar when I was looking for information about local trees which I eventually found at the Ojibway Park website).

ecofeminist Vandana Shiva speaking with mega phone

In my opinion, it’s an important event for local feminists. Women’s oppression is closely linked with the degradation of nature. Both have suffered under a system of patriarchy. The world around us — nature — just like women, is not passive, waiting for rescue or waiting idly to be made useful. We are both contributing, functional, important, integral parts of the planet. Neither women nor the planet are here to serve. It’s ironic when you start thinking about the connections in the English language between words we use to describe both land and women: think of terms like barren, fertile, and rape. Each can describe a woman or the land. Ecofeminists bring the philosophies of environmentalism and feminism together in efforts to liberate both from oppression. Maybe someday. Respect for nature, respect for women.

photo credit to leenback. Click on the photo to visit its page on flickr.com.

Geeks get the Monthlies

I’ve been playing with calendars on my fresh install of SuSE Linux – experimenting with customizing Lightning for Mozilla Thunderbird and trying out kOrganizer. I’ve got all of my calendars (kids here, kids at their dads, Rob’s kid, campus activities, due dates, birthdays, etc) on the home network so that I can see my events no matter which computer I’m on. Rob’s got the same thing going and we (theoretically) can try and keep track of what each of us is doing.

The only calendar I hadn’t set up yet was for my menstrual cycle — currently the data for the past year is sitting in a MozBackup file on a flash drive that I’ve misplaced. I’ve got the last two months sitting on a gmail calendar so by grabbing that and setting a customized 28-day repeat cycle I can predict approximately when I’m likely to be crampy, miserable and/or cysty for the distant future (until of course perimenopause decides to visit).

woman and girl walking on the beach at sunset

This is why it’s better to put the calendars on the network instead of saving only a local copy — I never want to go through setting this up again.

The first thing I checked was how things line up with my family week-long summer vacation to the beach. Go figure, my period is due the first day of vacation. How’s that for timing? No guarantees since it’s still a few months away, but since I’ve been pretty clockwork at 28 days for the last 2 or so years there’s a pretty good chance I’ll continue to be regular. I’m happy with my Diva cup so it’s not the need to pack supplies that annoys me, it’s the thought of packing, driving, and being on holiday — and needing copious amounts of pain medication.

That said, I think this is a great application of organizer-calendars. It definitely beats counting out 28 days over and over again. I wonder if the Mozilla Foundation would like an add-on? What would it need to include?

flickr photo by CaseyLessard

I Will Teach You

Last night I attended a talk held at the University of Windsor given by Dr. Shahnaz Khan. The topic of the presentation was entitled: Veil Talk: Examining the Many Facets. Dr. Khan is the author of Aversion and Desire; Negotiating Muslim Female Identity in the Diaspora and a professor in Global Studies and Women’s Studies at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

woman wearing hijab riding a scooter

As she was discussing how the veil takes many forms and waiting for some technology to catch up with the presentation she took questions from the audience. A man criticized her for confusing all these Westerners. He said that what she was showing the group were not in fact veils, that there was a difference between veils and head coverings. He told her that He Would Now Teach Her That Difference.

It was an unbelievably arrogant and dismissive comment. Dr. Kahn is an expert in her field. She has written and lectured on this topic for many years. She had just finished describing and showing pictures of some of the many ways women veil and explaining that where a woman lives has much to do with the form the veil takes and that there are many reasons why a woman veils. She showed pictures of hijab, niqab, burka, obaya and chador and as all are used to cover a woman’s body they come under the category of veiling. She discussed the relationship between veiling and class — in the past, veiling beyond a head covering for protection from the sun — worn by both men and women — was practiced by upper class women. Those involved in physical labour were unable to work effectively with their movement restricted. We were much too polite to him. Instead of telling him where to go we rolled our eyes at each other, grimaced, and groaned. The idea of waiting for one person to finish talking before speaking should have been replaced with heckles and boos.

A few minutes later another man criticized her for not taking the talk to a different level — that we need to go beyond the talk she gave. Her response was that his idea is a different talk than the one she gave — an idea for another day. Judging by the number of people in the room who turned up for her presentation I’d say there was an interest in the talk that was presented. Not to say there isn’t more to say — but we have to start somewhere.

The first man tried taking the floor a second time at the end of the presentation but the moderator cut him short with her closing remarks — several times. This man did not want to stop — he was determined to re-educate the group. Dr. Kahn handled it all beautifully. It looked as though she’d dealt with this before.

Some of us were saying that it was really wonderful that these men turned up to tell us how to talk about women’s bodies. Because, you know, how could women do that on their own?

flickr photo by aymanshamma

An Idea

I should have thought of this years ago.

When life got busy I quit teaching ballet (and taking lessons and going swing, ballroom, and latin dancing with Rob). Maybe it wasn’t the right decision but I was being torn in too many different directions.

dance instructor with headset mic
flickr photo by www.get-fit-at-home.com

Something had to go and dancing was the piece that didn’t just didn’t belong here.

But yesterday I discovered dance aerobics dvds! Exercise + fun + music + dancing = happy me. I’ve got a bunch requested from the public library (African and Brazilian dance included) and have ordered the New York City Ballet workout, something another dancer I used to know practiced with when she couldn’t make it to classes.

Why didn’t I think of this years ago?

Breastmilk is Awesome

jars of expressed breastmilk

I’ve known for years (almost 14 — the age of my oldest child) that breastmilk is the absolute best thing in the world. Now there’s one more reason why it’s awesome:

Breastmilk contains stem cells. Seriously. Check out that article.

flickr photo by Hoover Family Photos

Getting Good Smileage

I first discovered Smileage at BlogHer 2007 in Chicago. I’m not sure where I picked it up or who put it there, but I came home with a tube of it in my swag bag. I have dry and sensitive skin and have tried a lot of different lotions, creams, and lip balms and I know a good one when I find it. And it’s 95% organic and has a great name too. I loved my Smileage.

But about six weeks ago I lost it. I always kept it in the same spot and never put it anywhere else. For over six months it was always exactly where it was supposed to be. /sigh/ Well, it tumbled out of my purse when I was driving on that fateful night six weeks ago but I’m sure that when I picked it up I put it right back in it’s pocket. I guess I didn’t. Or it fell out again. or something. ’cause it was gone.

I whined. I cried. I went back to my old lip balms…which all now sucked because they were old and they weren’t as perfect and they just didn’t feel like the Smileage. I searched online and found out how expensive they are (10$ each!) and that they don’t even sell it in Ontario. I found a couple of places in Michigan but nowhere near anyone I know and the shipping charges for online ordering were half the price of the lip balm. I resolved to being sad forever.

But then. Valentine’s Day. Rob surprised me with the best Valentine ever: 2 tubes of Smileage! I was shocked – thrilled – astounded – and my lips were so happy to be all soft and balmy again.

Now it needs to last forever because you see, I’ve discovered that my smileage is directly linked to my Smileage. As long as I have some I should be happy forever. :)

Make a Difference this Valentine’s Day

Want to know what to do for your Valentine this year?

Call Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Minister of Education and ask when the already promised Women’s and Gender Studies course will be added into the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum.

Kathleen Wynne’s Office: 416.325.2600
TDD/TTY: 1-800-263-2892

Today, February 14th 2008, between 9 and 5, pick up the phone and help stop sexual harassment.

Touching, grabbing, gang-style rape. These are just some of the incidents revealed in the Falconer Report. Sexual and gender-based violence is reaching epidemic-levels.

According to the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health:

“four percent of males in grade 11 admitted trying to force someone to have sex with them, while 10 percent of males and 27 percent of females admitted being pressured into doing something sexual that they did not want to. Not surprisingly, the data shows that girls are feeling this pressure more than boys, with 15 percent reporting that they had oral sex just to avoid having intercourse.” Is this okay with you?

Here’s more from the Miss G_ Project for Equity in Education:

******

Please join us in our most crucial campaign yet!

“No More Miss Nice G__” is a phone calling campaign taking place on February 14, 2008. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! We are asking all supporters of the project to call the Ministry of Education expressing that we cannot afford to wait any longer for a Women’s and Gender Studies course to be added into the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum.

**** Calling the Ministry of Education is absolutely not as stressful nor as intimidating as it may sound. In fact, you are a citizen and it is the Ministry’s job to listen to you and to take your calls.

PHONE #s:
Kathleen Wynne’s Office: 416.325.2600
TDD/TTY: 1-800-263-2892

WHEN: between 9am – 5pm Thursday, February 14 (If that doesn’t work for you, anytime is better than never).

WHAT TO EXPECT: This number will take you directly to Kathleen’s office, where her assistant will either pick up, or you will be put through to her assistant’s voicemail. You can leave a personal message or voicemail recording for her assistant to pass on to Minister Wynne.

WHAT TO SAY: Identify who you are and where you are from. State that you are leaving a message for the Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynne, and express your support for a Women’s and Gender Studies course being implemented into the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum. Ask when Minister Wynne will honour her promises and policy-commitments to introduce WGS into the provincial curriculum. (There are more ideas for things to say below.)
—> Bonus points: Talk about a personal experience that proves to you why addressing this issue is so important and urgent.

WHAT TO REMEMBER: You are fabulous and intelligent, you have an opinion, and your voice needs to be listened to!

If you have any questions or need any encouragement, do not hesitate to leave a post or to contact themissgproject@gmail.com.

*************************************
JUST THE FACTS MA’ME
(or, why would I want to do this anyway?)
*************************************

FACT: The recently released “Falconer Report” found that sexual assault and sexual harassment are alarmingly prevalent in Toronto schools and the authors recommended that the Toronto District School Board should “develop a sexual assault and gender-based violence policy” and partner with community agencies to provide services for women and girls experience violence. (http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/292869)

FACT: All students, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, deserve to go to school in a safe environment. In fact, government policy guarantees “all students… a safe and secure environment so that they can participate fully and responsibly in the educational experience.”

FACT: In response to the Falconer report, Minister Wynne stated, “we know prevention is better than reaction,” and speaks frequently in support of “inclusive learning environments.”

FACT: A women’s and gender studies course in high schools — which the Miss G Project has been working with the government to implement for the last 3 years — would be one highly effective way of creating that inclusive learning environment and preventing sexual assault and harassment THROUGH EDUCATION. From the experiences of teachers and students taking locally developed WGS courses across the province, we know that opening up a space for dialogue and providing information on issues of gender-based violence and harassment is an effective and desperately needed way of addressing and PREVENTING injustices occurring in schools.

FACT: A Women’s and Gender studies course would address issues of sexism, homophobia, gender roles, violence and harassment as well as infuse information about women’s history, writing and experiences into the curriculum (which it is now sorely lacking).

FOR MORE INFO ABOUT WGS, visit…
“Why Women’s & Gender Studies in High Schools?” and
“Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about WGS”

No More Miss Nice G__!!!

************

The Shameless blog has put together a bit of a script to help:

RING THE MINISTRY’S BELL: Some ways to have your say.

The best message is one straight from your heart (wink), but if you’re like many of us and prefer a prepared message, may we suggest some of the following:

“Hello, my name is____, and I’m a [student, parent, teacher, concerned citizen, etc.] from ____, and…

… I would like to leave a message for Minister Wynne asking when a WGS course will be implemented in the Ontario secondary school curriculum.”

… I am getting tired of waiting for a WGS course to be introduced to the provincial curriculum.”

… I wish that i had had WGS when i was in high school, and hope that future generations will have the knowledge to make better decisions and oppose oppressions.”

… I am tired of the gender-based injustice that goes on in schools and believe a WGS course would be an effective form of prevention.”

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