Archive for the 'Third Wave' Category

History and Sexism

It could just be a coincidence.

This semester I run two of ten tutorials for a very large first-year world history class that covers the years 1914-1945. There is an acknowledged Western perspective.

Last week there was one lecture (50 minutes) assigned to the topic “Women in the 20th Century.” This had been rubbing me since the beginning of the semester when I first got the syllabus. I had heard of the “add women & stir” approach to women’s history but had never seen it so boldly in action. This week the students read the first (and only) readings for the course written by women.

Message here:

  • women only write about women
  • women don’t write about the world in the 20th century

But that wasn’t where it ended. The prof wrote to the assistants a day before labs to say that covering only a few of the discussion questions would be adequate and mainly to concentrate on returning student papers and exams.

Message here:

  • it is okay to dismiss the small bit of women’s history/feminist history included in the course
  • what women say isn’t important — what women say isn’t as important as what men say
  • women are not a significant part of 20th century history

Of course this is nothing new. History (patriarchy for that matter) is full of dismissing women’s thoughts, writings, and activities. I know I was sheltered living for four years inside of Women’s Studies, thinking that as I was opening my eyes to it so was the rest of the world. Since moving to the discipline of History I am frequently reminded why we still need women’s history.

Until women’s history is integrated in the survey course there is no equality.

Looking For: Traditional Wife

The System is not made for me. Graduate students are not supposed to have families to care for, houses to clean, meals to prepare and clean up, or groceries to buy. They are not supposed to organize birthday parties, coordinate repairs, clean and sell a house, finish a basement, wash laundry, fold laundry, garden, or cut lawns. I need someone to do all these things for me. (*edit: Can I also add that this person must care for the physical and emotional health of all members of the family, including me? And let me tell you, grad students are Needy.)

Graduate students are supposed to read, research, think, discuss, write, present, read, research, think, etc ad infinitum. My job should be to go to school then come home and study in isolation, with occasional breaks for midnight rollerblading and Chinese takeout. It’s supposed to be a lot of work, but it’s supposed to be doable.

For some crazy reason, maybe because I managed an undergraduate degree with small children around, I thought I could do this too. It’s been an interesting month and a half — maybe because of the fun I’ve been having with family law court, police, children’s aid, and counsellors (could another agency possibly be interested in my life?). Somehow I think that even if my life were stable, with no drama or crises, it would still be too much to be a grad student and mother.

I met a 4th year student yesterday who is married, planning to do the MA next year. He’s only a few years younger than me — in his early 30s. His wife lives one and a half hours away, he has an apartment here… he has a kid that doesn’t live with him and she has 3 kids — but they’re her kids, not his. Because they are her kids, according to their arrangement, there’s no need for him to be there. He’s focused on one part of his life — school.

I don’t have that option. My identities are completely interlocked. I’m not a student from 9-5 and a mother from 5-9 and a partner from 9-midnight. I cannot separate out one piece of my self and put the rest on pause or say they are insignificant or disposable. I am all of me. Like it says in my bio on this site: I am a feminist-activist-artist-geek-parent-student. I am all of these things at once. I can do what I do because of all of these things. The skills that I have, the insight that I bring, I bring because of these multi-dimensions.

Alas, the Institution of Academia is not made for real people. To receive funding I must be a full-time student. The perception is that unless I am full-time, I am not a serious researcher, that maybe I have a job somewhere. Maybe it’s time (or past time) for Academia to realize that there are other responsibilities in a person’s life and that these other things do not preclude people from making contributions to the Academy.

As long as the system runs as is, the only people in academia will be the ones that fit the mold: young people, no family responsibilities, no primary childcare responsibilities. Hmmm sound familiar? This is going to be a problem because more and more people want undergraduate degrees and there aren’t enough good teachers to fill the roles. By excluding a woman like me from academia, a good potential educator and researcher is lost. There has got to be a change. Maybe more distance education options, maybe a part-time option with funding. It’s sad to think I may have to give this up because the logistics are beyond me.

Green Candidate Info for Windsor-West

Because I had a hard time finding this information I decided to post it here for others.

The Green Party Candidate for next week’s provincial election is Jason Haney. His website is here.

Greens have policy statements on climate change, energy, income support, health, education, and local sustainability. I’m pretty sold on the position of one publicly funded education system for all children, but the focus on preventative health is a strong sell for me too.

There are links on the site to some Youtube videos like the one below.

Learn more about the Greens at

Graduation Day

Today is graduation day. I’ve enlisted the help of friends to help gather my children from the 3 different places from which they will come for the ceremony. One is at a track meet, participating in the last event of the day. My friend will wait for him to run his race and then bring him to the ceremony. If all goes well he’ll make it just in time. I have wonderful friends. Rob will chauffeur the gang to the university so that my parents will not have to walk in the heat. Afterwards we’ll have Chinese takeout, gift of my mother. Sounds like a great day.

picture of graduands

I’ve just come from picking up my gown. It’s an awfully awkward concoction and so I looked for some pictures from past graduations to see how it’s supposed to go together. I found this pic and can see that indeed it is an odd design that doesn’t seem to sit right on any of these people, except maybe the man on the left with the yellow tie. I don’t understand why the floppy part (hood?) is falling off everyone and that no one has ever noticed or tried to improve the design. I’m going prepared with a pile of safety pins. For the money and effort I’ve spent on the degree, I expected a little more. Who wants to be all falling out of their clothes?

Reflecting back to other graduation days, I can’t help but think of BtVS: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her high school graduation at the end of Season 3.

scoobies graduation

What a mess that turned out to be! Monsters, demons, zombies, and a vicious mayor… and somehow Buffy got the entire class together to fight them all and win. What an awesome gal.

I’ll do my best today to block out the other things on my mind these days: dealing with an ex-husband-lunatic, navigating new relationships with old friends, trying to sort out what I want to do with my life now that this stage is over. Vampire slaying seems so straightforward — all you have to do is do it (oh and survive I guess). I understand the burden, but today I envy the simplicity. I’ve learned so much from Buffy, including how to prepare for graduation: I’ll have a wooden stake hidden in my sleeve and the kids will have a crossbow each, just in case we’re visited by the undead. Bring it on!

Summer Job in Toronto at NAC

I got this today from the Women’s Studies department. Looks like an interesting summer position, but too far away for me. Could be a great opportunity for a geeky feminist if you live in Toronto and are still looking for a job.

Communications Assistant (Summer Student)

Employer: National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC)
Job term: Contract, Full-time
Location: Toronto, ON

The National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) is a non-profit/non-governmental organization that has been working to ensure the full equality rights of women and girls in all their diversity for 35 years.

Job Summary

NAC is presently seeking a vibrant student to work as a Communications Assistant to work in our National Office. The student will provide support and assistance in research, project development, facilitation and coordination of NAC seasonal initiatives and activities.



  • Assist in regular website maintenance. Compile and distribute electronic newsletters.
  • Assist to design and implement new strategies.


  • Assist in the processing of membership requests and to do specific follow-up with group and individual members on various issues.

Special Projects

  • Could involve but is not limited to: detailed policy research, project management and development, grant writing assistance, design, selected writing, special event coordination and implementing new administrative procedures.

Office administration

  • Administrative support to the Executive Coordinator: could include research, organizing meetings, helping to liaise with committees.


The qualified candidate for this position will be someone who has a strong research and analysis skills-set, advanced effective research and effective written and oral communication skills, strong inter-personal abilities and has a strong interest and/or academic background in women’s studies or any of the social sciences.

In particular, we are looking for someone who:

  • Is a university or community college student; must have finished the school year and intend to return to school in September.
  • Has advanced computer and Internet literacy, including online research experience.
  • Has excellent written, verbal and telephone communication skills.
  • Is well organized, able to work independently and collectively.
  • Thrives in a small, open-concept office space.
  • Demonstrates the capacity to respond quickly to emerging priorities.
  • Demonstrates good trouble-shooting abilities, flexibility and creativity.
  • Has experience in and enthusiasm for women’s issues, community development and/or community-based researchc
  • Basic web site development skills are an asset.
  • Knowledge of written and spoken French is a definite asset.

Contract Details: The contract is for full-time (30 hours/week) for a maximum of 12 weeks at $10 per hour.
Deadline for applications no later than NOON June 4, 2007.

Interested candidates are invited to submit a current CV and cover letter via email to:
Enisone Kadiri, Executive Coordinator, NAC-CCA

No faxes or phone calls please. While we thank all candidates for their interest, only those short-listed will be contacted.

NAC works from an anti-oppression framework and maintains feminist principles. We are committed to diversity and equitable opportunity; as such, we encourage applications from traditionally marginalized communities. Our place of work is wheelchair accessible.

*Funding for this position is provided, in part, by the Summer Career Placements program of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC).*

Casey Froese, hockey player: are we ready for girls in the boys’ room?

Front page of the Windsor Star today:

Casey Froese (age 11) is a minor hockey player in Windsor, Ontario. Recently it was discovered that she’s been suiting up all season in the boys’ (ages 9-10) locker room. Since then, she’s been told to suit up somewhere separate from the boys. Glenn Froese, her father, says this is sex discrimination and that she has a right to suit up with the boys.

The Windsor Minor Hockey Association Bylaw says that girls aren’t allowed in dressing rooms until 10 mins before game time. After games, girls have to leave the room before players remove equipment.


Dad brings up issues of of team bonding and how important it is that the players stay together. All the kids wear shorts and tshirts underneath (though this is not mandatory), that no one is showering or getting naked (although they could). From this angle, it seems like the question to ask is “what’s the harm?”

Well Mr. Froese, I agree with you. I think it would be great if everyone could get changed together and that gender didn’t matter. I think it would be great if everyone could just be team players and if no one cared whether you were girl or boy, gay or straight, cisgender or transgender, or every other possibility. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew for certain that everyone would be safe no matter where they went or what they wanted to do, regardless of their gender, sex, religion, skin colour, ethnicity, class, ability, etc? Wouldn’t it be great if 50% of women in Canada weren’t victims of physical or sexual violence at some point in their life (StatsCan)?

But we know that’s not the case. We know that women are victims of violence on much too frequent a basis. We’re talking about your daughter. She has a one in four chance of being a victim of sexual violence (Stats Can). You are gambling with the chances of whether or not she’ll be safe here. You think yes. Others say no. Can you guarantee that your daughter and every other girl will be safe at all times? You hope so but can you guarantee it?

How about we take all the kids out of the boys locker room. Have them change in the lobby. Or create a gender-neutral change room. As long as girls are in the boys’ room, the boys have the power. And I don’t think we’ve made that much progress yet. Maybe someday, but not yet.

John Jay High School

Wasn’t it just International Women’s Day? Couldn’t we celebrate instead of attacking women?

Update: Contact phone number for John Jay High School in NY: 914 763-7200 Leave a message with the principal in support of the Megan Reback, Elan Stahl and Hannah Levinson.

I got a link to the censorship taking place at John Jay High School in the mail today. Seems women’s bodies are still dirty and unsuitable for children (er well, it’s okay if we give birth to them — lots of them in fact). It doesn’t matter that these girls defied the order not to say the word “VAGINA” — that order was Wrong. There is nothing wrong with what these three girls did, nothing at all. I’m glad to see support from the community, and how it’s crossing borders into Canada and soon will go beyond. Hopefully it will come from far and wide and this school’s admins will realize that rules like this try to make women feel ashamed of their bodies. I’m especially glad to read this quote from Dana Stahl, Elan Stahl’s mother, “To me, they were reciting literature in an educational forum and they did it with grace and dignity.” Way to go Elan!

I wonder if there are other words associated with women’s sexuality that are not allowed at this school? Like rape? Could you imagine a school where girls are not allowed to talk about rape? Scary scary — what we do not hear does not exist, right?

I’d like to see the principal apologize to these girls and the community and tell us that he does not think women are shameful, sexless, dirty and offensive. I’d like these girls to organize some mandatory workshops for staff about the importance of a healthy attitude towards women’s bodies and how this is directly linked to women’s position in society (i.e. the end of misogyny). The staff could get a special certification at the end of the workshop (which includes writing an essay on the topic) — maybe “Gynophile”? or how about this classic: “Teacher”? These workshops would be adapted for the students at the school too because they’ve all been told now that “vaginas” are a problem. I’m not looking forward to seeing how that plays out in their futures. What do you think Megan, Elan, and Hannah? Actiongirls would be happy to help!

Here is the entirety of principal’s statement. He’s insisting that the girls are not suspended because they said vagina but because they said vagina when they were told not to say vagina. This is sooo not cool. Mr. Leprine, really, it gets easier the more you say it. And as for kids hearing it — it wasn’t that long ago that they were sliding through their mothers’. They’ll be okay. Maybe even better than okay.

March 6, 2007

Dear John Jay Community Members:

I appreciate the concerns expressed by students and parents over the monologue issue that occurred last Friday night at the “Open Mic Night.”

John Jay High School recognizes and respects student freedom of expression in the context of the school setting. That right, however, is not unfettered, particularly when an activity or event is open to the general school community where it is expected that young children may be in attendance. The challenge is to balance the rights of student speakers and the sensitivities of the community. The School’s response to that challenge was to pre-audition the students before several faculty members for the “Open Mic Night” and to determine the suitability of the intended presentations for the audience. In many cases, younger siblings, often elementary age, attend these types of events. This event was also being videotaped for the local cable television channel.

When a student is told by faculty members not to present specified material because of the composition of the audience and they agree to do so, it is expected that the commitment will be honored and the directive will be followed. When a student chooses not to follow the directive, consequences follow. The students did not receive consequences because of the content of the presentation.

There is a clear difference between putting on a production of a play such as “The Vagina Monologues” and an open performance at the microphone of an excerpt from the play before unsuspecting parents and their children. In the first case, the community would have been aware of the nature of the production and could have made an educated decision to attend or not to attend based upon that knowledge. In the case of the “Open Mic Night,” the community was invited with the expectation that the pieces presented would be appropriate for the general community, including younger children. Parents and community members did not have the ability to make an educated decision about the appropriateness of the content of the presentations for younger children.

There is also a clear difference between what is read and discussed in the classroom and what is presented in an activity open to the entire community. Our judgment was guided by the forum, the audience and the students’ commitment. Our decision was made in a considered, careful and thoughtful manner.

Rich Leprine,
Principal JJHS

Bucking the System

When you decide that things aren’t quite right and that you have the power to make changes in the world, however large or small those changes might be, you leave the path. You can no longer follow the map of your youth, the instruction book your parents gave you, or mimic the decisions made by those around you. Breaking new ground is just that — you’re on your own.

If you’re lucky you’ll find like-minded people along the way and together you can chart this new territory, consult before making brave new choices of your own, or stumble along, helping each other pick up broken pieces from the mistakes that come from any learning experience.

Love and relationships are a site of potential change as gender roles and relationship power dynamics are being navigated and changed by more and more couples. Heteronormativity is no longer the only relationship model, but what’s an individual to do when they are conscious of historical imbalances and there is a desire to leave hegemonic power differentials behind, but yet there really isn’t a clear cut working model to follow?

Start with divorce. In North America right now anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of marriages end in divorce. So many people are divorced which means their fantasy picture of the happy nuclear family with white picket fence, etc. is not their lived reality. I’m divorced but most of the people I know who are divorced are close to my age. I don’t have a whole lot of elders to look to for help navigating the fallout of divorce (like co-parenting with someone when we’d rather never see or speak to each other again). It’s not possible to just walk away from that person forever, in a way that it once was. Where is my role model? Someone to tell me that “one day this will be ancient history and here’s what worked for me”?

And single parenting. Where are the supports for parents who are doing it on their own? Shouldn’t this be worked out by now? If so many families in Canada are managed by single parent head of household and most of the families headed by single mothers are living in poverty why hasn’t it been dealt with? We’re doing things differently than our parents’ generation and there is no one to drive the soccer team around, bring cupcakes to school, or even attend PTA meetings. Time for basic family maintenance and survival is precious. There are no extras.

Regarding fathers, many today are more than breadwinners. Divorced or not, how many of them are following their own father’s parenting style? The supports and guidance for these men are minimal and those that are around are underutilized. Whether for lack of time or anxiety/inexperience with the support structures that do exist, there are lots of dads who are winging it.

Next, more and more adult students are turning up in university classes. Many of the ones I’ve encountered are women post-divorce who hope post-secondary education will be a way out of poverty for themselves and their families. The supports for us, the roadmap for how to study and parent and juggle work (sometimes more than one job) has yet to be drawn.

People are redefining what a relationship entails. Sex in a culture of AIDS and STIs (on top of the fear of an unwanted pregnancy) has to be negotiated. Rape and sexual harrassment are real things that could happen to you and could come from the people around you. It really could (or really has) happened to you.

Dating can now include all kinds of technology: emails and text messages and messenger clients. Profiles on myspace, facebook, and other social sites can lead you to potentials as well as the older sites specifically for finding a match. Some people still think it’s wrong to look for a date through a matchmaker site, others wouldn’t dream of going out with someone until they’ve sussed out their language skills and interests via the distance and safety (perceived or real) of online communication. Each person has to navigate this themself; there is no consensus as of yet.

More re: dating: the question of who pays for what on a date is no longer such a big deal — for some people. There are still traditions in place about who drives, who opens doors, who sits first. For some couples, these things are reciprocated but for others old habits die hard. For those in the new water, it can feel good to know your relationship is on equal footing and that a gift of kindness is just that: a gift, given and accepted altruistically, not in order to create debt.

Couples use language to show they are part of this new movement: descriptors like “partner” and S.O.for a significant other show real effort to reflect how we feel about another person. Gender-neutral language is a big part of this. Calling someone your partner reflects that they are truly an equal: equally responsible, equally knowledgeable, equally capable for maintaining the relationship and all it entails. It shows that a couple is committed to working together and is helpful in preventing one part from blaming the other for any difficulties. You are partners.

It can also be a way to reject the traditional marriage model of husband who rules and wife who is chattel and obeys. Rewriting the language helps us to reflect the true nature of our relationships. The term partner is also useful for describing same sex relationships since there is no implied gender in the word. The term partner opens up minds as to what a relationship can be, in an attempt to breakdown heterosexist culture.

Language isn’t the only changing thing in relationships today. Choosing cohabitation or longterm dating with each partner maintaining their own residence are practical alternatives to marriage for a lot of couples. Having children or not are greater options as methods to control fertility and prevent pregnancy are further developed. If a couple does decide to marry for legal or religious reasons there are a greater number of choices for language used in a ceremony to reflect equality between the individuals and the diversity of couples marrying. It’s no longer assumed that a woman will change her name when marrying a man — many couples choose a hyphenated name for all or a hybrid name.

We are an individualistic society. We have a lot of choices to make and there aren’t a whole lot of examples to follow. We do the best we can, with the information we have at the time, but are we really making informed choices? Do we just rationalize when we make a choice that follows a tradition?

If we were truly lazy we wouldn’t do anything differently. Because we do endeavour to make changes, to reconstruct our families, our language, our ideologies we mustn’t t be lazy. Doing things differently takes effort, but it’s worth it: for us, our families, other people breaking ground along side us, and those who will follow.

Winter Projects

I turned in my application to the MA history program with an exciting proposal to collect oral histories from the last women to give birth on Pelee Island,Ontario, back in the 1950s. By then most women were relocating to either mainland Ontario (Leamington or Windsor) or to Ohio to give birth. Pelee Cottage SunsetI’m excited because there’s a personal connection – my grandmother was one of the last women to give birth at home on the island (to my father). Even though she died over 10 years ago from breast cancer, I feel connected to her through this project. It also means I’ll get to go to Pelee to talk to people and talking to the older generation of islanders is always a hoot. (photo credit Jonath, Click the image to go to the photo’s flickr page.)

I’m working on a directed study this semester, cross-listed between the Women’s Studies and History departments about how the emerging technologies of blogs and user-generated media have changed the form and content of communications between mothers and information about mothering. I’m not a mommyblogger but I’ve followed the flurry with interest since BlogHer 2005 where it was identified as a radical act by Finslippy. I’ve watched La Leche League change from a personal mother-to-mother organization for breastfeeding help to an organization with a strong emphasis on online helping and information sharing – including providing mothers and health care professionals with links to Dr. Jack Newman’s video clips for help with latch and positioning and the online Community Network for leaders, and forums for mothers. It’s still mother-to-mother, but it’s changed. Online communities help with the sense of isolation mothers can feel after having a baby, but the technology changes the style and who has access to helping. The project is still too large and it’s hard to cut out pieces of the research in order to make the project more manageable, but it’s getting there.

I’ve begun writing a summer project grant that will (hopefully) allow me to make podcasts of historical Canadian texts in the public domain. I’m excited about it and hope to work with Toronto’s Mitchell Girio for production quality and also hoping for some original music from Mitch and some local Windsor artists. I’ve had some skeptical response to the idea from traditional historians who wonder if people would actually be interested in downloading and listening to Canadian history on an mp3 player — but I see it as a great way to encourage interest in our past — and to give attention to works that maybe haven’t been included in the traditional canon of what is Canadian History. I think it’s incredibly exciting and of course, you never know until you try. I know I would do it, and I know my kids would be into it too. That’s enough for now, for me.

Actiongirls is getting busy too. We’ve planned a pile of Stitch n Bitch sessions with more to come. This project is slowly attracting community interest. There was a reporter from the Windsor Star at our meeting yesterday who asked plenty of baited/leading questions. No doubt there will be an article filled with misquotes in the paper on Monday. /sigh/

So… I’ve discovered that there are places where people with ideas like mine gather and brainstorm and plan and Norther Voice Banner develop and change the world. One of the conferences I’m trying to get to is later this month: Norther Voice 2007. They’re offering a travel subsidy (deadline today, Feb 2 at 12 PST). I never considered that I might be able to go to this since travel across Canada is crazy expensive but when I found out about the funding assistance I decided I should try. With the bursary I could get there and learn and contribute my experience as a women’s-studies-history-IT-student-mom-activist-artist-geek. Without it, there will be nothing but homework and dishes and laundry for me until I save more pennies. Maybe it will help me sort out where I’m headed, trying to combine computer science, history, feminism, activism, and art. Either way I’d get to see the Rockies.

Meaningful work

If I lived in Vancouver, was done school, and looking for work, this job opening at Social Signal would be the one for me. In the meantime, maybe this is the one for you? Here are some excerpts from the posting. For the entire job description and more about Social Signal, click through to Alexandra Samuel’s post.

Wanted: Web services consultant

Who you are: You enjoy working with technology, and want your work to have social value. You like knowing that the work you’ve done each day has made a real difference – to your colleagues, your clients, and the world. If you’ve got a free evening you’re torn between spending it online checking out a new site you’ve heard about, or heading out to meet your friends at a community gathering or demonstration.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • configuring and troubleshooting web sites for socially-oriented online communities (you don’t need to be a programmer or web designer, but you do need to enjoy learning new software programs or web tools)
  • advising on site strategy and design as part of a development team
  • researching, writing and/or copy editing blog posts and online community contentwriting how-to guides to help community members use advanced online tools with ease and confidence
  • identifying and exploring new web sites, tools and strategies


  • tech skills (Mac/Windows/Linux, software programs you know, web tools you use)
  • solid writing and communication skills
  • personal organization and time management


  • technology work (paid or volunteer) for community organizations, socially-oriented businesses, or government agencies
  • projects where you have developed or managed a web site or blog
  • professional or personal projects that have required you to learn a new software tool or technical skill
  • situations where you’ve resolved a technology challenge
  • situations where you’ve been the primary tech support for colleagues or friends
  • writing for work or fun, on a regular basis, possibly on a blog
  • volunteer work for community organizations or causes
  • situations where you’ve worked independently with minimal supervision
  • situations where you’ve gone the extra mile to get the job done


  • commmunity groups, projects or issues you’re involved in
  • web sites you like or web tools you’re excited about

Bonus points for:

  • having your own blog
  • demonstrated knowledge of Drupal, WordPress, PHP, HTML or CSS
  • knowledge of one or more scripting or programming languages
  • a personal take on the relative virtues of open source and proprietary software

We’re looking for a progressive, tech-friendly person whose passion for social change is matched only by a fascination with technology. This sixth member of our team will have a hands-on role in developing and implementing online community projects for our diverse range of clients. We don’t need a programmer, but we do need someone who enjoys working with computers and is a quick learner. We can help you learn the tech skills you need for the job; you need to come equipped with your own communications savvy, political smarts, and love of new tech challenges.

Compensation will be commensurate with skills and experience. Please note that this is an entry-level position.

Theory and practice, geekdom and activism… what an awesome way to contribute to the world.

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