Tag Archives: feminism

What the Internet Thinks of Women

23 Oct

There is a lot of hype surround UN Women’s new ad campaign. It utilizes Google Search’s autocomplete feature and takes a screenshot of what happens when you search “women cannot”, “women should”, “women shouldn’t” and “women need to”. They are very powerful images, and it places the screenshot of the search over a woman’s mouth.

Something to note is that Google Search has different results for different people – Google personalizes your search results based on web history.

So, I typed in the above searches for both men and women, and these were my results (click to image to view full-size).

women cannot

 Not only is this a brilliant ad campaign, but it shows just how entrenched patriarchy and sexism are in our society. When we do the same searches for men, we can see how patriarchy negatively affects men as well. “Men shouldn’t cry” and “men need to man up” are some examples of how patriarchy is a human problem, not a woman’s problem. “Men cannot be feminists” shows us how much we really need men in the feminist movement.

What happens when you do these searches? What are your reactions?

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Where’s the line on street harassment?

30 Sep

Women face street harassment all the time – even on a daily basis. So, where’s the line?

Feminist Philosophers

Soraya Chemaly argues that violence is a natural end-result of the same principles which operate in what we ordinarily refer to as street harassment:

Earlier this week a man in a car pulled up next to a 14-year old girl on a street in Florida and offered to pay her $200 to have sex with him.  [. . .] The girl said no. So what does this guy do? He reaches out, drags her, by her hair, into his car, chokes her until she blacks out, tosses her out of the car and then, not done yet, he runs her over several times.  Bystanders watched the entire episode in shock. He almost killed her, but she lived and ID’d him in a line up and he’s been arrested and charged with Attempted Murder, Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and False Imprisonment.  What was the Deadly Weapon referred to in the…

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How to be an Ally

31 Jul

I am a female feminist. I am also white, heterosexual and cis (my gender matches the sex I was assigned at birth), and I recognize the privileges that come with those attributes – not to mention being from a middle-class Canadian family. I strive to be an ally for people of the LQBTQQ community and for people of colour, and navigating the best way to do that can at times be difficult. Michael Urbina wrote a fantastic article titled 101 Everyday Ways for Men to be Allies to Women. I recommend reading the article in its entirety, especially for my male readers, but I am going to highlight some of my favourite points that I think are applicable to anyone who wants to be an ally to women, people of colour, and the LGBTQQ community. I added some personal comments in italics.

  • Recognize your privileges, especially your male privilege (and white privilege if applicable).
  • Make a daily effort to acknowledge and then challenge your privilege.
  • Recognize that your male privilege (among other privileges) may in fact blind you to others’ experiences.
  • Stop catcalling. Seriously, just stop! 
  • If you’re going to be chivalrous (on dates) or in everyday life, do it for everyone out of kindness, not just for women or people you think are not capable of doing things themselves. Also known as: be a kind and respectful person.
  • Monitor your use of words.
  • Never force your opinions on other people.
  • Be conscious of your words and the effects it could have on others.
  • Be pro-choice.
  • Acknowledge the lived experiences of women and LGBT-identified people. (And I will add people of colour to this).
  • Support same-sex marriage. Given.
  • Challenge everyday sexism in your life.
  • Call out your friends on oppressive behaviors, jokes, or comments. This can be difficult; I cannot count the amount of times I have argued with my brothers over their usage of “That’s so gay.” This can especially be difficult if safety is at risk. Last weekend a white male called my black friend a n*gger at the club very quietly and I called him out not at all quietly – it nearly ended in a brawl. 
  • Support musicians and artists that do not degrade women (or others) in their music and lyrics. – Have you read the lyrics or seen the video for Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines?! 
  • Claim the feminist label. Read my post about why this is important here
  • Don’t be the hero, savior, or knight in shining armor. Allyship isn’t about rescuing people from their oppressors, as if they couldn’t do it on their own. Allyship is about standing in solidarity and working together to collectively tackle a social problem.
  • Support other people who advocate for gender equality (and all forms of equality).
  • Be willing to listen and know when to refer people to other resources.
  • Be an active bystander. If you witness harassment, do something about it.
  • Learn and use appropriate vocabulary.
  • Advocate for more inclusive policies, rules, or procedures in your school or workplace.
  • Be proud to be an ally.
  • Seek out children’s books for your kids that challenge traditional gender roles. (My amazing mother read The Paper Bag Princess to me soooo many times, and my wonderful self-identified feminist father was always there to act it out with me! For other titles, go here.)
  • Challenge entitlement (read my previous blog post and personal experience about this here.)
  • This might go without saying, but be conscious of other social problems and issues! All oppression is connected.
  • Support and vote for political candidates who advocate policies beneficial to women, LGBT people, and other marginalized groups of people.
  • Travel to unfamiliar places.
  • Ask questions (but not too many)!

What are your thoughts on being an ally? What other ways can someone be an ally?

More than a Woman’s Issue

1 Jul

I read a great article about a woman’s experience talking with rape and genocide survivors in Rwanda, highlighting why rape is more than a woman’s issue.

“In Rwanda, a majority of Rwandans still say “a man’s tears run within his stomach,” which suggests that emotions should be encased. In the United States, it’s the same. Emotion is weak and feminine and not a legitimate source for proof or argumentation. In Rwanda, rape survivors are marginalized. In the U.S., rape survivors are marginalized.

In both countries, rape is “a woman’s issue.”

Read the full article here

The “F” Word

21 Jun

I have many friends, acquaintances and even family members (I’m looking at my brothers) that will say “I believe in equality for men and women… but I’m not a feminist!”

So why has the word feminist become dirty? Why are people scared to call themselves feminists?

The first reason could be that the root of the word applies to females, and so males have trouble identifying with it. When we look back in history, the feminist movement was primarily women – because it had to be. Men weren’t going to just give women equal pay or the vote, so women had to stand up. But now the feminist movement has shifted, and it’s important to have male allies as part of it. Indeed, most feminists I know also realize that gender stereotypes adversely affect boys and men (“Be a man,” “Grow some balls,” “Boys don’t cry,” etc.) – males need feminism and can be feminists too.

The second, and probably most common, reason is that we are often shown a negative portrayal or representation of feminist. Many still see “feminist” as synonymous with “man-hater, angry and radical” – because that’s what people who keep females down WANT you to think. I typed “feminism meme” into Google Images, and these are some of the wonderful things that popped up (for more, just try it yourself):

anti-feminist1 anti-feminist2 anti-feminist3 anti-feminist4 anti-feminist5 anti-feminist6 anti-feminist7

Believe it or not, I chose some of the least-offensive.

 

But in reality, feminism is simply the ideology that advocates for the social, economic and political equality of the genders.

So do you think that men and women deserve the same rights? Congratulations, you are a feminist. Standing up for women’s rights is standing up for human rights, so be proud to be a feminist! The more people that proudly claim to be feminist, the more we can rid the word of negative connotations and actually work towards equality.

And for all of you who tell me that there is no need for feminism in our society (and for everyone interested), please check out Who Needs Feminism?  It is a great blog that shows the everyday realities of being a girl or woman.

 

Stigmas Against Breastfeeding in Public

17 May

Throughout my time in Botswana, I saw and experienced many stigmas, including surrounding breastfeeding. It was expected that all new mothers should breastfeed and that if she did not breastfeed it was assumed that she was HIV-positive. Therefore, mothers would proudly breastfeed wherever she was – at a shop, on the bus, or at a restaurant. 

In Canada, we still have the expectation that all mothers should breastfeed. However, it is stigmatized whenever a woman does it in public. I worked as a lifeguard at a public pool and since it is legal in Ontario for a woman to be topless (regardless of if she is breastfeeding), we could not ask a woman to not breastfeed. But, if another customer complains about it, then we were instructed to tell the breastfeeding mother that she was making others uncomfortable. I have heard similar stories of this happening in many public areas.

So while society expects women to breastfeed, women are shamed for doing it publicly. They are expected to breastfeed – but only in private or with a scarf or blanket covering their breast.

Why does this stigma exist?

Please read the rest of this post, originally published on the International Women’s Initiative Survivors’ Blog

Video

The Impossible Dream?

16 May

At training for my new job, we spent an afternoon exploring gender issues and gender analysis strategies. This animated video from 1983 by the United Nations was played for us to generate some discussion.

I think that it highlights the double work-load that many women face, and how some women may feel like they are stuck with an impossible dream. It also made me realize two things:
1) How far some families have moved from her reality, and;
2) How many families’ reality is still the same as the video.

What do you think? Can we achieve the impossible dream in our lifetime?