Friday, December 16, 2011

Birth Wants Her Soul Back

THIS.  This is one of the most powerful and thought-provoking essays I have ever read about birth.  Bonus - it was written by a woman I have great respect and admiration for, who works in my local birthing community, Lesley Everest.  The essay describes how us, the collective (North American) us, have come to exist in a culture so fearful of birth.  Please take the time to read it here, and let me know what you think.

Gift Guides

Come December, gift guides are everywhere.  I enjoy reading them, but rarely find them useful in selecting gifts.  Joey Comeau and Emily Horne, however, have got it right.  They put together a gift guide of quirky, lesser-known, super interesting things (I bought my girlfriend the lock pick set and can't wait to read Swing Low by Miriam Toews). Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Doula Match Availability

For those in the Montreal area, please check out my Doula Match profile, listing my availability and share!  Thanks :)


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

National Geographic Photo of the Year - Pure Joy

The National Geographic photo of the year is about birth! Awesome!


Placenta Encapsulation in NS

Often I think of my home town (Westville, Nova Scotia) as entirely conservative.  But, it put a smile on my face knowing that when my parents sat down to watch the news last week (as they do religiously every night) they saw this video on their local station about placenta encapsulation.  Check it out.  

Does anyone know where you can learn how to do this?


Friday, November 4, 2011

Help The Feminist Breeder get to the MBOBB Premiere!

The Feminist Breeder has been given a press pass to the November 9th premiere of More Business of Being Born in Los Angeles.  Trouble is, she lives near Chicago and needs our help getting there.  Check out her blog for more information and donate HERE.  

She is also giving away a pair of tickets, which I would LOVE to win.  It would be as if I had died and gone to feminist-birth-junkie heaven.  For more information on how to win tickets visit her blog post about the premiere.  

Wish me luck!

More Business of Being Born Premiere

Yesterday, upon arriving at work, I was greeted with a new post by one of my favorite local doulas and advocates, Lesley Everest (a.k.a Motherwit).  She posted an article on her blog about the impact of The Business of Being Born - the movie made by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein that has changed birth culture in North America.  This movie was, for me, and many other women, a catalyst for involvement in, and knowledge of, the birth community.  Before watching the movie I knew that my childbirth experience with my daughter had been... icky.  After watching, I suddenly had words to describe just exactly HOW and WHY my experience had been so disempowering.  

Lesley states, "Not only does Business of Being Born depict the problems and illustrate the need for change, narrated by midwives AND obstetricians, it also lets us know how deeply moving, empowering, and incredible natural birth can be. Yeah, it hurts. Fair enough. But how that wonderful dance of hormones and baby love transforms women into powerful mothers when the journey is over is at the heart of this film."

Now, the premiere of More Business of Being Born is upon us, taking place on November 9th in Los Angeles. I've already pre-ordered my copy, and I cannot wait to see what Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein have done with these films.  

Check out the official trailer here.
Get information and tickets for the Los Angeles premiere here.
Read Lesley Everest's article here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Feminist Blogging in the Media

Today, my Twitter feed was all abuzz with an article published in the New York Times about feminist bloggers entitled The Rebirth of the Feminist Manifesto.  The article is quite interesting, although it tweaks my nerves when mentioning SlutWalk, and the pictures are mildly annoying (another appeal to the general public, really? - We're just like you, we swear!).  It's most definitely worth a read, especially for those of you who aren't familiar with all of the big hitters in feminist blogging (Jezebel, etc.).  Yet, as Mamafesto writes, but what about the rest of us?  Feminist parents STILL aren't being recognized by popular feminist blogs, and I don't know why.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"We have to make it better, now"

Well said, Rick.


Birth as Performance

Here's an article by Brooklyn-based performance artist Marni Kotak who had her son Ajax on October 17th, at a New York art gallery.  It is similar in concept to Dr. Nancy Salgueiro's home birth broadcast online on October 16th.   I attempted to watch Dr. Nancy's birth but fell asleep at 1 a.m. (her baby was born at 3:18 a.m.), and I have yet to re-watch the birth.  In my opinion, this is a wonderful trend in our Western culture where the sharing of birthing among young women has been lost.

You can watch Dr. Nancy's birth here.

Get on Your Back!

Disney Movies and Sexism


Ah crap - I've known this all along (it's horribly obvious) but have tried not to admit it to myself - Disney movies are SEXIST, in the big, bold caps lock kind of way.  I've debated showing Disney movies to my daughter over and over again because, well, I saw them all when I was young.  And, I loved them.  It's difficult for me to make the connection between the subtle beginnings of self-loathing and those Disney movies from childhood, but, when it's pointed out to me in such stark form, it's hard to deny.  It's also hard to deny their impact when you imagine what our lives as little girls would be like WITHOUT those princesses.  What kind of roles could our daughters imagine for themselves if they couldn't so easily slip in to the role of the incapable, beautiful princess woman in search of her knight in shining armor?  

My daughter has seen mostly all of them - if I get rid of them now is it too late, have they already irreparably influenced the future she imagines for herself?

An Intact Penis and a Call to Child Services

This Mom had to deal with infuriating claims of neglect while her son was in the hospital for a fever. I have a daughter, and haven't had to deal with the issues surrounding foreskin and circumcision so this piece was really informative - check it out here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Holy Shit

Holy shit.  Jessica Valenti mentioned me on her blog.  She misrepresents The Feminist Breeder and disagrees with me (although, she calls me measured, which is awesome), but STILL.  

AND yesterday The Feminist Breeder mentioned me on Twitter and said this, 



TheFeministBreeder
 I'm glad to know you're out there. The world needs more feminist lactivists.


 Excuse me for not having an intelligent or witty response.. these women are inspiring, and to be included in their world, if only for a moment, is pretty great.

!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thank You - Would You Ask Me That Question if I Were a Man?

A huge THANK YOU to The Feminist Breeder for this post! As a mom who is in school and working, I am frequently asked these questions by other students and colleagues.  Please read.  



A Response to Jessica Valenti - Formula Marketing is NOT Feminist

The Feminist Breeder posted yesterday on her Facebook page about an influential feminist and her blog post about formula feeding.  Jessica Valenti, in response to news that some hospitals are removing free formula samples, wrote, "But truly, refusing to give mothers access to formula is not "baby friendly" or helpful - it's shaming and in some cases could be very dangerous.  Enough already."  The full blog post, written by Lorrie Hearts, later links assault on reproductive choice with the stigmatization faced by mothers who choose to formula feed.  While I think it's important to draw attention to the hypocrisy existing in judgement leveled at those who formula feed, in a perverted way, the article serves to justify the limiting of choice moms face when they are gifted with free formula samples in-hospital.  Women can choose to formula feed, and can go to any grocery store and pick up the brand of their choice.  This is in no-way analogous to attacks on reproductive justice which serve to make access to abortions illegal.  From The Feminist Breeder, "Just because you've used infant formula [which I have], and support formula feeding moms, doesn't mean you should support formula marketing."

Check out A Mother is Born for a great response.

And, not to be outdone, The Feminist Breeder wrote this great response on her site - which sums up the arguments against formula marketing in-hospital in a super easy to read and smart way, as usual.  Check her out.  [Also, she mentioned me on Twitter yesterday - holy sh*t!! - she's my feminist/mommy idol]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Racial Bias in Missing Persons Cases

On the day that Casey Anthony's parents are appearing on Dr. Phil for their first interview following their daughter's trial, we should take some time to question why we focused so furiously on Casey Anthony, and very little, if at all,  on Ramona Moore.  Here is an article on her story, and the landmark racial bias lawsuit that has resulted from it.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One World Birth

One World Birth is a must-see.  It is an online video resource for birth professionals, campaigners and parents.  They have videos from Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger, Michel Odent, and many, many others.  The website also serves as a community connecting those around the globe who are advocates for birth.  Sit down with a cup of tea and check it out today.

They can be found on Twitter at @oneworldbirth, and on Facebook at One World Birth.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm back!

Hello all!

I apologize for my unannounced two month hiatus.  I've taken that time to focus on myself and make some pretty big life decisions.  Also, I went home for a vacation to Nova Scotia which was oh-so nice.  I did some reading, watched a few good movies, enjoyed the sun, swam, and spent time with family and friends.  Lovely.  I was also able to eat at some of my favorite, and truly missed, spots in Halifax (Gracious Indian, Gingergrass, Ardmore Tearoom).  During all of this eating and napping, I finally came to a conclusion about whether or not I should return for my final year of grad school.  

This is a rather long story - I apologize - but I feel I should give voice to my experiences.  Before I start I'd like to mention that I'm keeping my ego in check by reminding myself  that I am a very lucky soul; these are all first-world problems, and I am blessed to be able to take the time, and have the means, to decide what to do with my future.  Everyone in my life is happy, healthy, and supportive, and for that I am thankful.

This past year has been quite tumultuous, with moving to a new city and province, moving away from family, moving in with my partner, putting my daughter in pre-K and an after-school program, beginning a Masters degree, my partner beginning her Masters degree, getting a puppy, having the puppy pass away, getting another puppy, working full-time... I could go on.  During all of this I was managing my school work well (although it was holyshit stressful), but was coming to the realization that I was not in a place where I could agree to 7 more years of the same - the holy grail that is the PhD.  Thus, my life course was scrapped and I wasn't sure what I was doing anymore if I would no longer be seeking further schooling in order to become a Psychologist.  I thought - let's go back to the beginning of my undergrad when I was intent on going to law school so I could be an activist.  I even bought an LSAT prep book.  I read Adam Letourneau's book, So, You Want To Be A Lawyer, Eh?, and found myself why I would trade one highly stressful career path for another.  I'm really not great at handling unknowns with regards to my future - and so I was consumed with thoughts of different career paths.  

This blog, coincidentally, has helped point me towards my career path.  Birth, ever since I had my daughter, has been a constant passion for me.  Soon after her birth I watched The Business of Being Born, Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein's documentary about the culture of birth in the United States.  Ever since, I've immersed myself in the discourse on birth in North America through online forums, books, my doula training, and anything I could get my hands on.  I had always seen my passion for birth as a sidenote to my career as a psychologist or lawyer; careers that equaled respectability, stature, and power.  Letting go of those Western ideals is hard - and choosing a career in birth has been humbling, and freeing.  Choosing something I am incredibly passionate about, which allows me to be an activist, is amazing - which brings me to my decision to apply to the Midwifery program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.  I vibrate with excitement each time I think about it, which has made my decision to leave graduate school a tiny bit easier. 

I've decided to take this next year away from school to focus on myself and my family.  I want to pick my kid up from school every day, read a ton of good books, and just spend time enjoying life.  This decision has been a long time coming - and is also tied to the incredibly crappy and discriminatory treatment I've faced in this year at McGill by my supervisor and those around her, but that is another blog post entirely.  All that said - I'm letting go of my identity as a student for the next short while (fingers crossed I will pick it up again in September of 2012), in order to gain some peace.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rise in Homebirths!

"Dr. Joel Evans, the rare board-certified OB-GYN who supports home birth, said the medical establishment has become "resistant to change, resistant to dialogue, resistant to flexibility."


No shit!


Read the article here, featuring my favorite, and the amazing, Feminist Breeder.  

Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Read - Every Mohawk is a Suspect: Police Raids

In this article Dan David writes about the impact of police raids on Quebec Indigenous communities, stating, "To them [the police], this is a problem community that they wish would just go away. As a result, they don’t get involved in working with the community toward long-term solutions, and instead use short-term thinking and flashy, expensive, and ultimately useless raids over and over again. It’s progress in reverse."
David highlights the obvious strategic differences used when carrying out police raids in Indigenous and non-Indigenous areas (high-volume police takeover of an entire community versus carefully planned and executed raid on a few key houses).  He also discusses the stonewalling Mohawk people experience when trying to work with the Band Council and Police.  "The massive raids are merely a symptom of more fundamental problems that don’t or shouldn’t involve the police except as a partner with Mohawks in the community. Policing that doesn’t involve the community, that doesn’t reflect the will of the majority of people, just won’t work. It never has and never will—anywhere."   
I found this article on Jessica Yee's Facebook page.  Right now I am reading her book, Feminism For Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism.  David (and Yee, I think) is writing about a very important phenomenon - US (read: White, middle and upper-class folk) speaking for and about Indigenous people in this country (and others).  What Yee's book and David's article are saying is that Indigenous people need to speak for themselves, as they have being doing for generations and generations before we came around to mess things up.  This systemic practice has real consequences, like needless police raids that only help to disrupt and further stereotype communities.  David writes, "Federal and provincial officials have attended community meetings where speaker after speaker demanded to know why their governments were prepared to spend millions treating them like criminals but nothing to identify and address the root issues that provide the perfect environment for such behaviour."  
In essence - quit reading what I have to say and check out David's article here!

Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Talk to Little Girls

This weekend I read this article by Lisa Bloom called How to Talk to Little Girls.  It hit home with me because whenever people meet my blonde-haired little girl, they always tell her how cute she looks.  Her grandparents buy her fancy new clothes, her favorite color is pink, and she is obsessed with shoes.  Some days sending her the message that she is valued for her whole self feels like an outright war against the culture we live in.  Try this approach for a change, and both her and I will be immensely appreciative.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm an Average Parent!

This article by Lori Gottlieb makes those of us 'average' parents, who exist in the hyper-judgmental world of parenting and feel guilty about not coming up to snuff, come out on top.  Although the article at times slips in to another of the "you-shoulds", for the most part the author is saying that we all need to relax.  Focusing on every minute detail of our parenting styles and our kids behaviour only serves to shield them from the ups and downs of the "real world".  That's right - as a result of the "you shoulds" directed at parents 24/7, our homes have become fantasy lands with a vigilant focus on proper child outcomes which, in actuality, often leaves children behind.  Average children, who are great and some things and crappy at others.  The author writes, "whether the fixation is happiness or success - parental overinvestment is contributing to a burgeoning generational narcissism that's hurting our kids".

This article has made me realize why I have 7192 pieces of blank white paper around my house with one or two coloured scribbled lines.  My daughter, almost 5, used to fill the page with faces and clouds and other nonsensical scribbles.  But, at least, there was effort involved.  Each time she would hand me one I would clap, give her a high-give and say, "Great job!".  As a result, she's learned that she can take the shortcut through crappy, effortless drawing in to the land of high-fives and "Great jobs!".  The author writes, "parents who protect their kids from accurate feedback teach them that they deserve special treatment".  Our Western world of parenting advice has led us into the realm of constant accommodation and praise rather than earned accomplishment.  

There are many more quotes I could throw in here but, in essence, (and what is maybe a selfish reading of the article in order to make me feel better - ha, irony!), the article is telling us all to back off, and let our kids deal with shit.  The more shit (let's not get carried away here, by shit I mean the normal embarrassment, disappointment and devastation that comes along with growing up)  they deal with now, the more able they will be to cope with it when they are adults.  By constantly protecting our children we are actually getting in the way of their natural development.

Read it here, and let me know what you think.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"In Our Own Voices"

I was originally planning a post on all of the foolishness of the Vancouver Riots following the Stanley Cup final.  But this, I think, is a much better story about Vancouver.  

The Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group has launched their amazing In Our Own Voices writing project this month.  A new story is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week on the Vancouver Media Co-Op site, making the project consist of twelve stories in total.  I highly, highly suggest you take a look, as the stories presented each week are powerful, raw and so necessary.  The stories were written as part of an intense period of writing exercises, workshops, and revisions facilitated by the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.  Week one featured stories that brought women to the Downtown Eastside, week two drew attention to child apprehension and violence against women, week three will explore the daily lives of women in the Downtown Eastside, and week four will highlight ongoing issues of homelessness and poverty.  I'm not going to write about the content of the stories here, it's important that the words remain in the author's voices - you can find the series here.  Although, I will say that each one so far has made me go through the various stages of grief, outrage and a felt sense of injustice.  The stories are women's experiences told in women's own voices. Check it out, and find out what you can do below.

About the Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group:
We are a trans-inclusive group of women who live in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories, the poorest off-reserve postal code in Canada. We are or have been homeless; living in shelters and on the streets. Many of us are single mothers or have had our children apprehended due to poverty; most of us have chronic physical or mental health issues; many have drug or alcohol addictions; and a majority have experienced sexual violence and mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional abuse.  For Indigenous women, we are affected by the racist legacy of residential schools. We are from all walks of life, surviving in extreme poverty and building a family with each other.

For More Information about the DTES Power of Women Group: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Halifax: I Am Ashamed

I'm from Nova Scotia and yesterday I spoke with friends from back home who informed me that a local performer had been shot in her home.  At 1:30 am men impersonating police officers knocked on her door.  When she opened the door and realized they were not who they said they were, her and her roommate struggled to push the door shut, locking it.  They lay down on the floor and heard a shotgun blast right through the door.  More bullets followed, one which hit her in the arm.  When interviewed from her hotel room the woman stated that the attackers were yelling, "Tranny faggot, open the door, let us in, let us in".  It's baffling to me that a hate crime of this magnitude could happen in my home province, my country, or my world even, at this time.  Interestingly, the CBC coverage is the only one to mention the woman as a drag queen.  Whether this is erasure or not I can't tell.  Is her occupation and gender irrelevant in the news reporting, or is does it's absence speak volumes?  There's a certain responsibility to highlight hate crimes mixed with an unnecessary sensationalism in the media.
Read the coverage and let me know what you think.

UPDATE: Here is some audio of Chris speaking about the incident on CBC Information Morning.
http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningns/2011/06/a-terrifying-experience.html

UPDATE 2: CBC article with the headline, Drag Queen Was Victim of Shooting.

UPDATE 3: Police Denying Hate Crime Claims Despite Slurs.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home Birth Put Simply

In the trend today of sharing articles with you, I bring you this article written by Susan Heavey about her home birth and why she chose it.  I have read a ton about birthing, am in the process of being registered as a doula, and have had one hospital birth, and so have many reasons why I want to give birth at home next time (more autonomy, respect, a better environment for the baby and myself, lower risk, etc.).  I appreciate this article because it lays it out so simply, and therefore is accessible to readers who have no involvement or knowledge of birthing culture.  Enjoy :)

Queer Literature for Teens



I wanted to share a great piece I read today entitled Teenagers in Love, about literature that tells the coming out stories of lesbian teens.  The author speaks about several books which detail the struggles of young women coming to acknowledge their identities.  Although at first, for many, these battles take place privately and intimately, the characters (and many of us actual lesbians) have to come to terms with the political implications of those private yearnings.  This clash is difficult for many, as we watch our straight friends seamlessly transitioning from the very personal time of budding sexuality to the more public displays of first boyfriends and first kisses.  Although these transitions are not always smooth, they are met with acceptance from wider society (for the most part).  Folks with marginalized identities, on the contrary, inevitably have a moment of realization that these feelings once experienced and mulled over only in ones own head must be expressed outwards.  At that moment a young (or older) teen is also confronted with the political implications of such inclinations - shame, and a nagging sense that we are doing something wrong.  Although many of these books are meant to imbue young queers with a sense of strength as the protagonist battles seemingly insurmountable opposing forces to come out proud, and with a smile, the reality is often, and unfortunately, more difficult (and more mundane).  

It's extremely important for those of us who have come out to tell our stories (along with those of us who can't), with all of their foibles and boring details, as we have been written about and talked about and conjectured about by others for so long.  We should work to encourage libraries, publishers, and readers to invite and support peoples stories of being queer so that these stories can be made available to younger teens of all identities.  Coming out stories can be successful, devastating and everything in between, but one thing they all are is ongoing.  Read the piece and tell me your thoughts!  



Friday, June 3, 2011

A Page Engaged in a Little Civil Disobedience

I saw the news today about a Senate page holding up a sign saying Stop Harper during the Throne Speech and it warmed my heart.  You see, I used to be a Page (yes, I wore that uniform) at the Nova Scotia House of Assembly where we were mandated to be apolitical.  We were seen and not heard.  Especially so during the Throne Speech, the holiest of holy days at the House where we broke out the white gloves for the Lieutenant Governor's visit.  (In NS her name is Mayann Francis and she always looked somewhat like a wax statue).  I loved the job, but this girl has some guts.  She was immediately escorted out, fired and issued a statement shortly after.  She says, "This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces."  Awesome.

Picture taken from: http://tweetmeme.com/user/alexguibord

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reading - The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service

Right now I am reading The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service.  I began to learn about Jane a couple of years ago while working with the SMU Women's Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia where I was finishing up my undergraduate degree.  A woman named Jane, ironically, recruited me to participate in a play called Jane: Abortion and the Underground.  Jane was a collective of women in the late 1960's early 1970's who wanted to participate in the women's movement in a way that allowed them to take direct action.  They weren't interested in writing letters or changing laws, members of Jane wanted to help one woman at a time from start to finish.  The group began as an abortion referral service, referring women to local underground abortionists in the Chicago area (abortion was not legal in the US until Roe V. Wade in 1973).  Eventually, the women of Jane took their power back and learned to perform abortions themselves.  In their four years of existence they performed 12,000 safe illegal abortions. Amazing.  The book is easy to read and gives the reader a good picture of what the women's movement at that time (not that I was there to verify!).  If you have any feminist leanings at all I highly suggest you pick it up.    

To learn more, please go here.  The Chicago Women's Liberation Union (CWLU) Herstory Website has a wealth of information about Jane.  

Trust Women

On this date two years ago, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was brutally assassinated while attending his church in Kansas.  To honour his memory, visit this website.  Tiller's motto was Trust Women, a motto that the women's centre I volunteered with took on when the language of choice began to be debated once again.  I love the motto in its simplicity, trust women, for that is what we must do.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

To Walk or Not to Walk

That is the question.  Montreal's SlutWalk is happening this Sunday (May 29th) from 2-5.  Since the appearance of SlutWalk on the scene a few months ago following a Toronto police officer telling women at a York University gathering they could avoid sexual assault by not dressing like "sluts", I have been contemplating whether or not to attend.  The word slut felt heavy in my mouth and it seemed difficult for me to rally around it as a vehicle through which women can combat victim-blaming and violence.  I rally around the word feminist and I am not sure how the two go together.  One of the most thoughtful commentaries I've seen was written by Aura Blogando entitled SlutWalk: A Stroll Through White Supremacy.  She points out that, in essence, the event has become an exercise in white supremacist hegemony as it has located its discourse around the word slut, as opposed to discussing how institutional racism and violence is leveled against women of color.  Blogando points out that immigrant women of color who report sexual violence are at risk of being deported, and that black sex workers are criminalized.  She says, "The event highlights its origins from a privileged position of relative power, replete with an entitlement of assumed safety that women of color would never even dream of.  We do not come from communities in which it feels at all harmless to call ourselves "sluts".  Aside from that, our skin color, not our style of dress, often signifies slut-hood to the white gaze."  The organizers, by assuming that women can spontaneously "reclaim" a word that is used to stigmatize and shame continue only to further the myth of meritocracy so prevalent in our society.  The organizers want women to be free to call themselves sluts, forgetting that women, and women of color in particular, are not free from that word when it is used as a vehicle for hate.  Although I am positive the event coordinators have good intentions, a horde of scantily clad women does not necessarily challenge sexist culture and ideas.  Aside from that, one of the organizers, Sonya Barnett says she rejects "man-hating, hairy-legged, Birkenstock-wearing" feminists.  She proudly proclaims that she takes "no feminist stance".  Besides being annoying, her comments divert the walk from its awesome feminist origins (anti-victim blaming) and turn it in to a sort of watered down, "mainstream" feminism which is cool for dudes who can call women sluts because its empowering!  Why be ashamed to call yourself a feminist?  Those hairy-legged women are the reason we made it here.
In conclusion, instead of suiting up in my sexist lingerie to march through the streets of Montreal, I think I will stay at home this Sunday, sit myself on the couch and indulge in Jessica Yee's Feminism FOR REAL.  Or maybe just watch some oh-so feminist Disney movies with my kid.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Comic Review of Morning Glories


I've just finished the first Morning Glories book, a great comic by Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma and Rodin Esquejo. I bought it at 1,000,000 Comix here in Montreal and in suggesting it to me the (amazing) man working there asked me if I had liked Lost. This comic beats Lost hands down, it is up there in my top 5 favorite comics. As suggested by The Amazing Comic Man, Morning Glories has a clear story arc; Lost seemed to get off track near the end, pulling ideas from all over the place. The series grabs you right away by introducing the teenage characters in an interesting way, giving you just enough info to gauge who the characters are while not overwhelming the reader. You come to like most of the characters right away (except for the evil spawn that is Ike); they don't come across as too stereotypical. There's even one from Toronto!
While the story opening has you thinking these teens are about to journey through a normal life event, going away to school, you find out quickly (sneakily and suspiciously) that their journey to Morning Glory Academy is more dangerous than it seems. I rapidly read through the first book and found the storyline filled with enough danger and suspense to keep me on my toes, and enough answers to keep the story flowing. Although, as soon as you answer one question, you have three more. I highly recommend the series to comic veterans (which I am not sadly, yet) and new comic readers alike.

You can find my favorite comic shop (and The Amazing Comic Man) at 1418 rue Pierce.

Picture taken from:            

Thursday, May 19, 2011

All The Silence Is Worse Than All The Violence

This video is an awesome break from all of the ass-shaking (the girl in the video is actually wearing a LONG SKIRT?!). It hearkens back to Tupac's lyrics, offering social commentary on everything from Jersey Shore to the War on Terror. The video speaks to the discourse in the West right now, the constant consuming of crap, and the fear we as citizens experience when critiquing social and governmental institutions. I watched Lupe Fiasco speak on a latenight talk show, and he offered genuine sentiments of protest and concern for the state of our world. It seems to be more than just a hipster bent for publicity's sake. Check out the video, and let me know what you think.

video

Activism At It's Finest

Today a lot of activism takes place on the internet, effectively spreading the word about social movements and rallying people who otherwise may not become involved, or who now are able to be involved in new ways. Even so, it is awesome to see examples of some good old-fashioned protesting. In the video posted below, a gay rights advocate poured glitter all over Newt Gingrich's head during a book-signing. Gingrich, a former Speaker and now Republican Presidential Candidate for the 2012 election, is also avidly anti-gay. Feministing.com sums up Gingrich well saying, "Our boy Newt is well-known for his bigotry, most recently it being discovered that he secretly funneled $350, 000 to anti-LGBT hate groups last year." As the protester poured the glitter on Gingrich's head, he exclaimed, "Feel the rainbow, Newt. Stop the hate. Stop anti-gay politics. It's dividing our country, and it's not fixing our economy."

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Harper Announces New Cabinet

Harper announced his new cabinet today. Many of the same Ministers got the same portfolios, like Peter MacKay (barf!) who is still Minister of Defense. Mr. MacKay and his father have held the same riding in Nova Scotia, where my parents live, for many years. I have never voted in that riding, as I moved away before I was old enough, but I can tell you that it would have been fun to vote for Elizabeth May in the last election. My hometown riding did not do her justice then; BC elected her to the House this time around, the only Green Party candidate to make it that far.
Another Minister who kept his portfolio is Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. That is a damn scary portfolio in the hands of a Conservative. He ordered sections about gay rights removed from Canada's citizenship study guide for new immigrants, although he denied any such involvement, stating that someone at the Minister's office made such demands on his behalf. And that's only the beginning, you can find many more scary facts about Jason Kenney if you look around.
Minutes after Prime Minister Harper finished answering media questions about the Cabinet shuffle his office sent out a release announcing that three defeated Conservatives were awarded seats in the Senate, thus avoiding addressing the issue in public. An article in the Globe and Mail offers an interested take on how these Senate appointments will play in Jack Layton's favor in 4 years. Another article found on Yahoo News suggests that the appointments may have been illegal, if the Senators were given assurances on Senate appointments if they lost the election. We are in for a crazy next few years...

"Black Women Are Less Attractive" Finding Showcases Racist "Science" In Action!

Today I was reading up on the controversy over the Psychology Today article written by Satoshi Kanazawa entitled Why Are African American Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women? which was eventually retitled by Psychology Today "Why Are African American Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?"
This issue is particularly relevant for me as I am currently doing a Masters in Counselling Psychology; I also did an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Criminology. As part of my degree I have to complete a research project, and submit it for publication. So for the past few months I have been reading about ethics and the research process as I prepare to send out into the world my own (hopefully not shitty) research. Mr. Kanawaza obviously must have failed his ethics courses (I don't even want to think about how he did in multiculturalism...). It is troubling to me that this shoddy "science" has been given a forum on Psychology Today. It is even more troubling to me that all of this publicity, negative as it may be, has people talking about Kanawaza (including me). Our first responsibility as researchers is to ask the all-important first question, Is this research really fucking important? And I don't mean important to me, as the researcher, because I know any research will push careers forward and add lines to a CV. I mean, important to the group that is being researched. Because if it is not, we are unethically wasting people's time for our own selfish gain, and furthermore, we may be harming them. What do you think African American women think? It is nuts to me that we give people tenure and they have the audacity to use that platform to do research that is racist, damaging, and just plain stupid. My favorite deconstruction of Kanawaza's shitty research is over at Colorlines by Akiba Solomon called, The Pseudoscience of "Black Women Are Less Attractive. You can also check out Latoya Peterson's piece at Racialicious called, How To Debunk Pseudo-Science Articles About Race In Five Easy Steps.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy International Day Against Homophobia!

Book List Challenge

I am an avid reader. As such, I am almost always intrigued by the "Best Book Lists" or, the, "Even though you like to read, this list will make you feel like you don't read enough!". Also known as the, "List that makes you feel terribly guilty for that Sophie Kinsella book you read last summer!". This time, the BBC Book List Challenge showed up on Facebook, where you could click the number of books you had read (21/100) from the list and show it to all your friends, hoorah for hierarchies! (One friend on my newsfeed had 63). Anyway, the list always leaves me itching to read, and I start searching my local library for each book, picturing the epic summer that lays ahead of me, full of literary genius.
This time, though, I was left wondering. After attending the book launch of Feminism: FOR REAL edited by Jessica Yee, I am left wondering what titles are missing from that list. Is this a list full of authors that are mainly White males, a sort of colonialistic standard existing out there telling us what is great literature? As I'm reading I'm looking for Three Day Road by Joseph Boydon, or anything at all by bell hooks.
This search draws me to a list of Best Feminist Books I found online. The list has many books with female leads (Carrie by Stephen King) and many books written by self-proclaimed feminist authors. But, it also has books like The Feminine Mystique (at number 3) by Betty Friedan. Betty Friedan was a leader of second wave feminism in the United States, head of the National Organization for Women (NOW), with a blatant anti-lesbian stance. She eventually left NOW as she felt the organization was getting too involved with "lesbian issues", resulting in distraction from the larger, more important, goals of pay and employment equity. This list, I think, is not altogether feminist after all.
I'm not stating anything new here, really, and you can find information about much of what I'm saying in other, more prominent, feminist blogs/websites all across the internet. What I'm really asking is what a list of great reads would look like if it included all of the incredibly important but less well-known books written by or about women of color, lesbian women, etc.
My summer goal has changed from reading every great book the BBC says I should read to reading every great book I can find that is NOT on that list, and is either written by a woman who doesn't typically get much air-time (read: is not White/straight/able-bodied, etc.), or is written about feminism (and not White feminism either!). I'm staring with Jessica Yee's book.

What book would you include?

Monday, May 16, 2011

First Post Jitters

This adventure in blogging has been spurred by my partner who has recently taken up her own blog. (She's a great writer and you can find her at http://ladala.blogspot.com). I tried to write a blog a few years ago and found myself lacking in motivation to continue (read: my shit was boooring). I think I was trying to write not as myself, but as someone who wanted to please an audience, and had no idea what that (non-existent) audience wanted. So here, I say to you (my second non-existent audience) that I will speak only what I know (read: mothering, doula-ing, reading, feminist-ing, loving), and hope that is interesting to all of you! (If it's not, check out my partner's blog, she wrote a great piece called Growing Up Homo).