Monday, April 30, 2007

Daily Links...

  • The UN has a great report on the economic cost of descrimination against women in Asia-Pacific (UN):

"Discrimination against women has cost Asia-Pacific billions of dollars every year. The Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2007, launched on 18 April 2007 by the United Nations regional arms, has found that barriers to employment for women cost the region $42 billion to $47 billion annually.

A further $16-$30 billion a year is lost through gender gaps in education. When the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) decided to undertake research on the costs of gender inequality, the aim was to build a bridge between social and economic policies"

  • Ms. Magazine writes about Amnesty's recent report on the U.S.'s failure to properly protect Native American women from rape and to hold their attackers responsible (Ms. Magazine).

Authors of the report concluded that the high rate of rape results primarily from a lack of government funding, limited staffing, and confusion regarding tribal and county jurisdiction in cases of sexual assault.

Even when reported, many of these rape cases fail to be prosecuted because, even though over 86 percent of rapes against Native women are committed by non-Native men, tribal councils have no jurisdiction over non-Native offenders, the US Department of Justice reports.

  • Are Women Being Chased out of the Blogosphere? That's what the Wahsington Post asks in their report on online intimidation of female bloggers (Washington Post).

As women gain visibility in the blogosphere, they are targets of sexual harassment and threats. Men are harassed too, and lack of civility is an abiding problem on the Web. But women, who make up about half the online community, are singled out in more starkly sexually threatening terms -- a trend that was first evident in chat rooms in the early 1990s and is now moving to the blogosphere, experts and bloggers said.

Canada's First Female Supreme Court Judge Dead

I wanted to make sure to post today in memory of Bertha Wilson, Canada's first female Supreme Court Judge. She died at age 83 in Ottawa. Says an article on her passing at

Bertha Wilson was known for her generosity of spirit and originality of thought,” said a news release from Beverley McLachlin, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Wilson, one of the most controversial judges ever appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, helped transform Canada’s legal landscape in the early years of the Charter of Rights.

A Trudeau appointee, Wilson sat on the court from 1982 to 1991, handing down watershed rulings on abortion, mandatory retirement, and battered wife syndrome.

Race/Class/Disability/Sexuality and Politics...

So, at Antigone we're committed to talking about women and politics and to working towards the equal representation of women in politics. For this reason, I should be very happy about the new Quebec cabinet which is composed of 50% women right?

Well, first of all - women actually lost seats in the Quebec election. Quebec, which previous to the election lead provincial legislatures in the representation of women in politics with 30.84% fell to only 25%. Furthermore, let us close look at this picture:

Notice anything? Although there are a nice representation of women... there is a very paltry representation of any other minority groups. Here's the problem then with the drive for more women in politics.

Although I am thrilled that people like Stephane Dion are taking women in politics seriously and making a concerted effort to increase women's involvement - what about the other minority groups that aren't being represented either? And what about women who belong to more than one of these minorities? Efforts to get women involved in politics that ignore other minority groups' lack of power within the political arena are thus problematic. Why are women so special? What about visible minorities? People with disabilities? Immigrants? The GLTBQ community? And how can we have proper representation for average Canadians if the political sphere continues to be a classist organism, in which the majority of people who come to power are from the upper class or upper middle class?

While I don't think that positionality necessarily means that you will represent the identity group that you belong to, many studies have shown that women, for example, on average vote differently than men and advance legislation with different values. This is less a product of the 'inherent' differences between men and women and more a product of life experiences. It helps when talking about reproductive rights to actually have someone with a uterus in the room. Similarly, when talking about immigration, it gives you a different perspective to have the opinion of an immigrant on the matter.

When I spoke with Kim Campbell, one thing that she said that struck me is that we have to figure out the type of person we want in politics and then work towards making politics accomodating to them. I think this is an important piece of the struggle. In order to get more minority groups active in politics and representative of the groups that they belong to, we have to first decide that it is worthwhile to do so and then the different parties must seek such candidates out.

Monday Links

  • Women In Media Network's guest blogger Ivonne Salazar talks about misogyny in hip hop and how Russell Simmon's call to block out the words 'ho', 'bitch' and 'nigger' fails to address the underlying culture of misogyny within the industry. Very interesting read!(WIMN).
  • An article about women in politics in Bath and how they've managed to come together despite their differences. It also talks about a Girls Day in the legislature in which young girls are asked to accompany their representatives for the day! Such a cool idea! I think Canada should make such an effort to encourage young people's interest in politics!(Times Record News).
  • THIS IS AN AWESOME ARTICLE! I had to say that... in caps. Boston University prof, Caryl Rivers talks about how the media manufactures stories (think the Mommy Wars, the Opt Out Revolution) in order to play of women's anxiety. Great article. Can't wait to read her forthcoming book: Selling Anxiety: How the News Media Scare Women (Common Dreams).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Female Politicians are 'Women' - Go Figure!

The Brisbane Times has a really interesting article called Behind Every Women Leader There's a Struggle. It analyzes the ways in which female politicians (particularly Hillary Clinton and Segolene Royal) are embracing their 'femininity' and touting their roles as 'mothers' as relevant to their roles in public life. U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also sparked talk of this when she was sworn in surrounded by her grandchildren.

Breaking away from a Thatcher model (adopted by Merkel) of never explicitly drawing attention to the fact of one's sex, Royal and Clinton have put the fact that they are women and mothers at the centres of their campaigns. It is a fascinating experiment.

"Because I am a woman, things will be different," Royal declared. "The fact that I'm a woman and a mum is part of what I am," Clinton announced

I think it is wonderful that these women are able to not only embrace their roles as mothers, which have been important experiences in their lives, but to do it in a way that suggests that the experiences that defined and drove their motherhood are valuable resources for their political careers. Far from emphasizing that these women are 'only' mothers, what this does is not only place distinct value on female experiences of motherhood (which are so often denigrated in our society and not seen as important qualifications for politics or anything) but it also suggests that women can be strong and ambitious and also 'motherly'.

Motherhood is now offered by both candidates as a political asset - a form of authority and leadership.

In a politics driven by personality, motherhood offers some shortcuts. It helps humanise the politician, it can be used to project an emotional warmth and empathy in an age when the primary requirement of a political leader is that they "understand" the voter. Voters show in polling that they think motherhood makes women less driven by self-interest and more by the welfare of others. At a time when politicians are held in such low regard and there is pervasive political cynicism, the "mother nation" figure has some real emotional resonance in both electorates.

Accusations of being "calculating", "ambitious", "cold" have dogged them from the starts of their campaigns. Such terms when applied to a male candidate would hardly be seen as a drawback - what president hasn't been ambitious? - but it makes these mother politicians appear less motherly.

Its also important I think that these female candidates seem capable of being themselves. They are not being pushed into being 'masculine' in order to fit into the Old Boys Club of politics, and yet, I don't believe they are embracing traditional conceptions of femininity either. Instead, they are redefining what being a 'woman' means, by negotiating their own balance between masculine and feminine gender traits, while still acknowledging that their embodied positionality within female identified and identifying bodies has contributed to their identities.

This strategy does, of course, have risks.

The stakes couldn't be higher. If their candidacies contribute to the election of loathed right-wing alternatives - in particular if Royal doesn't get the socialists through to the second round - their failures will haunt, and be used to intimidate, women politicians for a generation.

Here's the problem then. Women, especially when they present themselves as women are seen as WOMAN... and emcompass all women. I look forward to both Clinton's and Royal's campaigns... and I hope that if they lose, all the gians they have made for women just by running and believing themselves worthy to do so, are not erased.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Progressive Bloggers and Rose's Place!

Antigone Magazine is happy to join both the Progressive Bloggers and Rose's Place teams! Welcome to any new readers that come to us from both of these communities!

A quick primer on Antigone Magazine:

Antigone is a magazine about women and politics that started the University of British Columbia. Founded with the help of WILLA UBC (Women Involved in Legislative Leadership Association), the magazine was launched in November, 2006 and has interviewed the likes of Kim Campbell, and Elizabeth May, as well as, covered issues such as pay equity and women's political place in Canadian politics.

Antigone's goal is to interest young women and men in advancing women's leadership in Canadian politics and in advancing women's issues. Antigone launched its blog in March 2007 and is currently seeking to expand to other universities. If you are not a UBC student and would like to buy a yearly subscription to Antigone Magazine ($12), or if you would like to help bring Antigone Magazine to your university please e-mail

Pay Equity (a reprise)


According to recent statistics women in the United States are now earning not 77% but 88% of the man's average salary. To this end, one article in the New York Sun states that these statistics, of course, make mass demonstrations completely pointless and ineffective... Not so.

I'm not going to address the statistics because I am ill equipped to do so, and furthermore, statistics can be used to prove just about darn well anything. What I will say, however, is just what sorts of jobs are these statistics referring to? It seems to me that any woman in an 'executive' position (should she get there) is still underpaid and under appreciated next to her male colleagues.
What this article does illustrate is the danger in promoting a policy of 'comparable worth' as it inherently assumes women are weaker. What we (as North Americans) still do need, however, is legislation around equal pay for work of equal value. 'Comparable worth' returns Americans to the persons debate and makes one wonder if women ever actually became persons in the eyes of some.

Another, more interesting, article raises some very scary points:

"A report released this week by the American Association of University Women found that women across the country earn 80 percent of what their male counterparts make one year after graduating from college. Ten years later, they are earning 69 percent of men's pay. Even after considering career choice, parenthood and other factors, a quarter of the wage gap is unexplained and likely a result of discrimination, the report says."

The article itself discusses the implementation of some bills to legislate Pay Equity--labelled (go figure) "feel good liberal legislation" by one senator. I don't disagree that affirmative action isn't always the best path--indeed, it can lead, as Amanda rightly points out, to very unfair hiring practices. I do think, though, that we have to start somewhere; as much as North Americans like to pretend we live in a meritocracy, in truth we live in a meritocracy for the already privileged...

A third article addresses only too "the transparent glass ceiling" faced by women.
This article points out that the statistics around the enduring wage gap can be attributed, in part to the fact that

"Women gravitate into lower-paying professions such as education and psychology. Many go to work for non-profit organizations. Men take a disproportionate number of the jobs in engineering and business."

While this is true, it only serves reinforces the gravity of the larger societal problem: the socialization and gender coding around certain jobs and the failure of some professions to work around the caregiver role. It does also illuminate an interesting tendency of women in the working world; that is, the disproportionate number of women who chose the types of jobs which tend to lend themselves to 'community' based issues. Women, it seems, gravitate toward changing their environment in the most immediate way possible (as teachers or non-profit sector workers). Why is this?

Sadly the article continues:

But, as study co-author Catherine Hill told a congressional committee Tuesday, those decisions [to enter into lower paying professions] do not account entirely for the pay gaps.

She controlled for factors such as education, occupation, hours, and children. A 5 percent difference in pay remained for women one year after graduation — before child-rearing even becomes an issue. The controls whittled the spread after a decade at work to 12 percent.

Over a lifetime, those disparities snowball into total incomes $500,000 less than men, lower Social Security, lower social security for children and families.

Our society punishes mothers, rewards fathers.

No wonder there is concern around the declining birth rates in North America. As women choose more and more to enter into demanding professions, child rearing becomes a difficult choice. Hear this legislators: legislate that all jobs become more accommodating to child rearing (for both sexes) and maybe that 1.5 children per couple statistic might rise...

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Well, I have my thesis defense today (after which I will be officially done my undergrad) so unfortunately, I can offer you nothing of interest today.... however, tune in tomorrow for a killer post on feminism and art that I've been cooking up!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Violence Against Women

The Abbotsford News has an interesting article about Violence, particularly against women. It presents some scary statistics.

Here are just a few facts on violence against women culled from the provincial government’s Women’s Services website:

  • Male-against-female violence is the most common, representing 46.5 per cent of all violent crime in Canada.
  • Women are more at risk from a man they know than from a stranger; in 76.8 per cent of reported cases of violence, the women knew their assailant; in 28.9 per cent of the reports, the woman was assaulted by her spouse or ex-spouse.
  • Dating can be dangerous, especially for young women: Nearly 30 per cent of single women between the ages of 25 and 34 reported being assaulted by a date in a Violence Against Women Survey; and 35 per cent of girls between Grades 7 and 12 reported being sexually and or physically abused in a McCreary Adolescent Health Survey.

I do have a problem however, with this part of the article that seems to suggest that the way to stop violence if for women to be 'safe':

Women who take responsibility for their personal safety are taking charge of their lives and refusing the label of “victim.”

But there’s more to being safe than taking a martial arts course or keeping to well-lit streets after the dinner hour.

A safe woman is one who assesses risks and takes action to reduce them. A safe woman is someone who is armed with knowledge, not just bear spray.

While I understand that there are certain actions that a woman should take to help ensure her safety, I always have a problem when the responsibility is put solely on women to be 'safe.' As a woman, I am often very concerned about safety when walking around at night - I have the typical narrative running thought my head 'Is that guy following me. Am I alone on this street? What would I do if... Can I get to my bear spray, my cell phone?" I guess my point is that... really, it shouldn't be so incumbent on me to stay safe! There's a problem when women cannot walk alone at night without fear. More should be done to deal with the root of the problem, instead of putting the responsibility on women.

In part, it also suggests that anyone who is assaulted has done something 'unsafe'. What was she wearing? Where was she walking? At what time? This obfuscates the real problem. This woman was assaulted and no matter what she was doing she shouldn't have been. It was not in any way her fault. Thus, by trying to take away the word 'victim' how do we then ensure that we don't then project blame onto women who really just aren't as lucky as those of us who get through the night untouched.

Daily Links...

  • The Ottawa Citizen has an article entitled 'For Women in Politics, an Equal Voice is Still Far Off'. It talks about the difficulties of women in politics and why some women are not interested in running (Ottawa Citizen).
  • Women hit record numbers in the work force. Unemployment among women is also at a all-time low. If only we could get equal pay! (Canadian H.R. Reporter).
  • This is an interesting article of the plight of an abortion doctor. It addresses the recent developments in American reproductive rights and the partisan and religious tensions surrounding abortion. Definitely a must read! With fewer and fewer doctors performing abortions - this provides an interesting perspective into what abortion doctors must go through (Slater Online).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The 'Tokenism' of Women in Politics

I love this quote from an article in the Sentinel:

"We'll achieve true equality when it's no longer a curiosity for a woman to
seek any office or any job," said Rep. Senator Patricia Vance.

I think this is an important quote to consider. With all the media buzz surrounding Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic nomination, we're definitely not there yet. What I think is interesting is how Hillary has come to stand for 'Women' in politics with a capital 'W'. It reminds me of what Kim Campbell talked about when I interviewed her, which is that if a man runs for president and fails, nobody says its because men just can't do it, but when a woman does, this is seen as a reflection on the entire competence of her gender. This is exactly what Vance suggests will happen in the US if Hillary does not win:

"Hillary Clinton has very high negatives and I don't think it's because of her gender," Vance said. "But if she is to run (for president) and lose, people will claim that a woman can't get elected president."

This started me thinking about 'tokenism' in politics, and how when there are not every many women, these women are usually seen as tokens. It also made me think of the Liberal Party's new push for more female candidates in the next federal election. Is the party's policy of potentially pushing out male candidates in order to ensure their 33% representation a good idea? How will this interference with the 'democratic' process by which regional committees decide who their representatives are, construct the ways in which these women will be treated and talked about when elected or running for election? What will be said about women in politics if the Liberals lose the next election?

Okay, so maybe I'm playing Devil's Advocate a little here. Those who know me know that I support Dion's plan and admire his very concerted effort to get women into politics. Look at the difference that Dion has made in just this short time! I'm heartened by this article:

Within minutes of the announcement [of Julien's appointment as the Women Candidate Search Coordinator, CVs from interested women started coming through the fax machine," Julien said this week.

"That same evening, on Dec. 13, I was at a pre-Christmas event, a dinner, where I barely had a chance to eat, so many women came up to me to hand me their business card. I could hardly close my purse at the end of the night," Julien added in an interview.

For those who say though that privileging gender in party nominations is problematic, I must say that I agree. This is ultimately not the answer. As Vance says though, we need to stop making women in politics a curiosity, and so I do think that Dion's plan is one very important step towards a solution. What I mean by this is that, it would be unfortunate if this became a permanent method for ensuring proper representation of women and other minorities within elected office, because the ultimate solution, the place where we all want to be is in that utopian equal society in which equality happens naturally without having to impose it.

But what Dion has done is made women in politics a subject for debate, he has made women prominent and he has emphasized how important it is for women to get involved in politics and how much they can and do contribute to the political realm. This is ultimately, a very good thing! My only concern is that in adding more women to the party's electoral rolls, I hope that what does not get effaced is discussion on why women are reluctant to get involved in politics, how we can effectively encourage them and how politics can structurally become more accomodating to women and other minorities.

I do like what Linda Julien points out though about the emphasis on gender in party nomination and how this doesn't put equality over competence:

When the federal Liberals said they might bar men from seeking nomination, they were accused, said Julien, of putting sex equality above competence.

"My response to that," she said, "is that gender and competence are not incompatible."

Most women, Julien said, would not dream of putting themselves forward even if they are drowning in qualifications.

Women with university degrees -- including those with MAs or PhDs -- are still worried they lack the credentials needed for public life.

"With men, it's just about never a concern," Julien said. "There's a provincial politician, a man with Grade 5 education. I'm fascinated to see him."

" A woman with that level of education would never have run for office, but he just gets out there," she said.

I think that shows the ways in which qualified women count themselves out for the job - and I think we really need to address why they do that and how we can fix that.

Finally, and just to give you a little example of the opposition to Dion's plan, this lovely article entitled Women in Politics: What's the Fuss and written by a female Canwest reporter (it is now behind a subsciption page) featured this lovely quote:

I see that we’re not getting closer to having equal numbers of males and females in various elected assemblies. But why am I supposed to care? Why do we “need” women in politics?

Woman at Mile O answers this one:

The female writer argues that if we agree that we should equalize the number of men and women in politics, then why are we not doing the same for ethnic minorities, gay/lesbian persons, etc.? Let’s see…the last time I checked, all minorities, gay/lesbian people are still also….. men and women. Imagine that? What a ridiculous argument for continuing with the status quo. It’s very disheartening to see female members of the media calling down progressive action to advance the cause of including more women in Canadian politics.

Kuddos to her! Although, I believe that women experiencing intersecting positionalities often have very different views than other women, so I believe in a diversity of female and male voices. And I also believe that we should look at how well politics accomodates people of all types and find ways to encourage and support a truly representative representation!

Tuesday Links...

  • Gina Witfield talks about how young women have to step up in light of the recent US Supreme Court Decision regarding Late-Term Abortion. She emphasizes that this points out how women's reproductive rights are never secure... even in Canada (Rabble News).

  • This article talks about women in the GOP and how they historically formed the background of the party only to be pushed out later by men. Though it talks about women involved as candidates and elected officials within Republican ranks, it also contains this eye roll worthy statement by Roxanne Wilson, the wife of US Rep Joe Wilson: "I’m conflicted about the whole thing of women wanting to be in (elective) politics." As we all should be. As I always say... Women get the to a kitchen! (The State).

  • Bjork's! New album! Is about Feminism! Okay, so maybe this has nothing to do with politics... but I went through a major Bjork phase in high school and just listen to this:
    "There are actually other things than losing a glass slipper. I mean, part of it was having a little daughter and realizing, what are we telling girls? All these books out there about finding your prince. All these little girls, all they want to do is be pretty and find their prince, and I'm like, what happened to feminism here?" *Amanda swoons with happyness* (Pitchfork).

  • Women make gains in French politics apparently. I love this quote thought: "A woman sounds modern. A woman sounds like the thing to do. We've tried everything and failed so far. So why not try a woman?" Yeah... they've definitely made lots of gains. (SFGate).

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Brunswick Abortion Rights...

Anyone who believes that abortion rights are safe in Canada should really read this article. Heather Mallick talks about the state of abortion rights in New Brunswick and how they are being slowly chipped away.

Since almost no New Brunswick hospitals perform abortions anyway, women must discover their pregnancy very early, find a local doctor who'll refer them (difficult), and travel to a city to find another doctor to sign for them (expensive), and then book the operation (sometimes cancelled and impossible to rebook).

She must then go to the Morgentaler Clinic and pay for her abortion. Anti-abortionists bought the house next to the Fredericton clinic, where they try to lure women to change their minds, terrifying them with misleading photographs and false information.

When she escapes these people, she will get her abortion and then make her way home, often shamed and traumatized for what is a perfectly simple procedure elsewhere in Canada (except in P.E.I., where abortions are unavailable).

This is terrible and I urge you all to fill out the petition that I posted earlier here and send it in. You will most likely be hearing more about New Brunswick's abortion rights very soon as there is an upcoming court case that will be challenging their current laws.

The Morgentaler Clinic has sued the provincial government, and its court case will begin May 16. At the moment, the young premier's lawyers are arguing that since Henry Morgentaler is not a woman, he should have no standing in the case. It's difficult to find a local woman willing to go to court, so Dr. Morgentaler, 84-year-old former prisoner of both the Nazis and the Canadian government, has stepped forward once again.

Wow. This man is amazing! (perhaps I should see if I can get an interview and feature him in one of our upcoming 'Men we Love' features). What this 'difficulty' in finding a local woman who will be willing to stand up for her abortion rights as well as, the difficulty that women face in finding an abortion provider really points out is the ways in which we need to reconfigure the public discourse around abortion. I like Ms. Magazine's 'We had Abortions' list as well as, these t-shirts that you can get that proudly say 'I had an abortion'. Its about time that we stopped looking at abortion as a terrible or shameful thing and start seeing it for what it is - a routine medical procedure.

This article also made me question the role of men in both the pro-life and pro-choice movements, something that I've had many discussions about with both male and female, pro-life and pro-choice friends. It was particularly brought home for me in that this legal fight is between two men: the New Brunswick Premier and Mortengaler. I would say this is quite representative of the ways in which women's reproductive choices have been debated and legislated throughout history.

So, I'm going to play the pot-stirrer and try to spark this debate. Should men be allowed to have an opinion about abortion rights given that they will never have to face having an abortion themselves? Here's a quote from Mallick's article to generate some debate:

A Frederictonian in the audience, who introduced himself to me later as Eric Wright, stood and addressed himself to anti-choice males: "If you guys are so opposed to abortions, don't have one."

I had to laugh. It really is that simple. It's not your business.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Single Women Building Equity

Here is a great article about how more single women own their own homes!

Why pay rent when you can pay a little bit more a month and build your equity?" argues Brenda Bouw, former Spectator business editor and the author of Home Girl: The Single Woman's Guide to Buying Real Estate in Canada. "A lot of women don't want to wait around to be married or remarried."

Jen McNaughton, a 32-year-old single homeowner who purchased her first property in 2003, agrees.

"I didn't want to live with my parents and I didn't want to pay rent. I wanted to invest, as opposed to investing in somebody else's property."

She's not alone. A recent survey conducted by Royal LePage of 1,002 women across Canada showed 30 per cent of single women who have never been married own their own house.

This is wonderful! I think this is an important step for women to achieve their own financial security. After all, life doesn't begin after marriage....

Take Your Hands Off My Eggs!

There has been a lot of talk about new technologies that have come out to safely enable women to freeze their eggs for later use. This is great for female cancer patients who often lose the ability to produce eggs because of chemotherapy but its also a great opportunity for women to expand their choice about just when and how they have children. Thus, not surprisingly, this has raised concern among 'certain' people.

While safety is always a concern with new medical technology, egg freezing has just as often raised ethical and social concerns because it could allow women to have children at any age they choose.

But increasingly, scientists and ethicists are seeing egg freezing as an inevitable element of motherhood in the modern era. An article published today in the journal Science, for example, entitled "Melting Opposition to Frozen Eggs" notes that: "A typical man has almost a lifetime to become a father, but a woman's reproductive prime lasts only a decade or so--and coincides with the critical time for getting an education and establishing a career."

Oh, no! Not women having reproductive choice!! Whatever will we do!? Someone call the police! The RCMP! The National Guard! The government to legislate against women being able to postpone their childbearing years! The article goes on to say:

Any moves to set limits around how and when women can freeze their eggs, he said, would raise profound questions.

"To what degree does the state have a right to tell women when they can or can't have children? When does the government have a right to step in and say, 'Oh, you're too old.' "

Seang Lin Tan, director of the McGill Reproductive Centre, said society tends to be more judgmental of the prospect of older women having children than it is of older men, who routinely father children into their retirement years -- former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and silent screen star Charlie Chaplin among them.

Prof. Caulfield said it could be that society views mothers as the primary caregivers, and when they reach a certain age, people debate their ability to handle the physical demands of childbearing and child rearing.

Well, of course. So, men can have children at any age because we don't see fathers as 'necessary' but women have to breed within two decades or not at all? Tick Tock. This is ridiculous and does not take into account the ways in which life and society have changed. What if a sixty year old woman has a child with a thirty year old man who wants to be the primary care giver? Men have been doing that for years!

And let's challenge this idea that forty and fifty year old women are apparently incapable of being effective mothers! Have these people even talked to women in this age bracket in recent years? The majority of the women I know are active and healthy! This week I attended a lecture by Edie Weiner a noted futurist who said that the majority of women my age and older will live past age 100! In the light of this, I see no problem with delaying having children until you've established your career and are financially secure. I think you will be seeing more women having children in their forties and fifties and even sixties and using reproductive technologies to extend their fertility.

I don't see how this is any of Health Canada's business. I say get your nose out of my ovaries!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Check Out This Website

During my ritual procrastination regime, I came across this website, Check it out and I wil have a better post next week. Send me feminist thoughts... I am about to write an exam for a class in which the prof literally giggled when I asked what the impact of the changes in Japan had on women!!!!!

Karenna Gore Schiff Reads Antigone!

That is Karenna reading Antigone... and also my
hand passionately explaining to her what it's about!

Well, Antigone and I went on the road Tuesday and Wednesday to Chicago for the 2007 International Athena Conference and Antigone made quite the splash! For those who might not know, Athena International is an organization that seeks to support and promote women's leadership.

The organization believes that "What is honored in a country will be cultivated there" (Plato) and this concept led them to the idea of acknowledging and honoring those quiet leaders, mostly women, whose efforts were adding immensely to the fabric of their communities while they remained unacknowledged and not visible as leaders.

I would like to emphatically thank the Windsor Chamber of Commerce's Athena Committee for naming me one of their 2007 Scholarship winners and enabling me to attend this wonderful event! Here's a picture of the other two 2007 scholarship winners and three members of the Athena Committee of Windsor.

Anyways, getting to the post's title, the foundation was honouring Karenna Gore Schiff, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore and the writer of Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America , a book about unacknowledged female leaders. Not only was she reading Antigone, but she is going to do an interview with the magazine talking about women in politics in the US. She was definitely fascinating to talk to and listen to and she has said that she would consider going into public service in the future - she would make one great politician!

So, who else did I manage to wrangle into promises for interviews? Well, I'm glad you asked. Look forward to interviews with Martha Mayhood Mertz, Athena International's Founder, Shinae Chun, the Director of the Women's Bureau in the US Department of Labor and Sandra Pupatello, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Trade as well as, the Minister Responsible for Women's Issue.

Also, I managed to get some ground covered in potentially expanding Antigone Magazine to other Universities! Look forward to more news about that over the summer! And if you would like to see just how much fun we had - check out the album I posted on facebook with all the pics from the trip (this link should work even if you aren't a member)!

Amanda Reaume, Toni, Martha Mayhood Merz, and Cathy Dishke Hondzel

Pro-Choicers Read Antigone!

On April 5th, Antigone showed up to support the protest against pro-life group Genocide Awareness Project or G.A.P and to hand out a couple of copies of our new issue! A coalition of numberous student groups came out to protest:

Pro-choice demonstrator and UBC student Kelsey Patton explained that while freedom of expression is important it must be balanced with other concerns.

“While it’s important that groups have freedom of expression on campus,” said Patton, “If that freedom of expression infringes on other peoples’ rights and it’s degrading and offensive to other people there needs to be measures put in place to address those concerns.”

The problem that most students have is not the pro-life message but the way in which that message is communicated - through large graphic images in the middle of campus throughways and through offensive comparisong to genocides like the Holocaust.

Anyways, we at Antigone want to thank those people who protested against the display and to spotlight them here! Here are some pictures from the protest:

Chris Walsh with unidentified protestor

Sarah Taylor hands out leaflets!

WILLA President Kristen Myres

Monday, April 16, 2007

Athena Conference

I'm going to be out of reach Tuesday and Wednesday, so I apologize if the blogging is a little slow! I have the honour to have been invited to the 2007 International Athena Conference in Chicago.

Here is a link to the site. The Athena Foundation's mission is in

Supporting, developing and honoring women leaders

Inspiring women to achieve their full potential

Creating balance in leadership worldwide

The conference should be really interesting and I will be able to meet people like Shinae Chun, the 15th Director of the Women's Bureau for the US Senate and Karenna Gore Schiff - Al Gore's daughter who has just published a book entitled Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America.

When I get back I will definitely blog about it and post pictures! I will also do my best to get interviews with some of the speakers and presenters Until then!

June Callwood Remembered

June Callwood was a fascinating woman and one who worked passionately for women's rights in Canada. Among her other many accomplishments, she was instrumental in founding Casey House, Jessie’s Centre for Teenagers, Digger House, Nellie’s hostel for abused women, PEN Canada, the Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation, and Feminists Against Censorship.

This is a great article about her life:

She made an enormous contribution to Canada because she gave so generously of herself,” said longtime friend, broadcaster Betty Kennedy.

Callwood passed away this weekend at 82. She will be sorely missed.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Abortion Petition!

Antigone supported Joyce Arthur forwarded this petition on to me and I thought it was important that I post it. New restrictions on New Brunswick women's access to abortion require that two doctors approve the procedure before Medicare will pay for it. This unfairly targets low-income women, young women, immigrant women, rural and minority women and women who have no family doctor or a anti-choice doctor. Such restrictions are in my mind unacceptable! Please take a stand for abortion rights and sign this petition.

You can sign the petition simply by emailing your name and address to the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. They are making two lists to be presented to Premier Shawn Graham, one for residents of New Brunswick and one for supporters outside the province.


New Brunswick women have launched a petition in support of improved access to abortion.
To sign the text below, send your name and address: to

To the Honourable Shawn Graham, Premier of New Brunswick and the Honourable Michael Murphy, Minister of Health: We the undersigned, believe that whether or not to have a safe, legal abortion is a woman's decision and hers alone. We urge your Cabinet to immediately repeal Regulation 84-20, Schedule 2 (a.1) under New Brunswick's Medical Services Payment Act, which states that abortion will be paid for by Medicare only when approved by two doctors and performed by a specialist in a New Brunswick hospital.

This regulation severely restricts New Brunswick women's access to abortion services. It especially discriminates against low-income women, young women, rural women, minority and immigrant women, and women with no family doctor or an anti-choice doctor. The regulation violates the Canada Health Act and women's constitutional rights. We call on you to immediately repeal Regulation 84.20.

Contact person: Judy Burwell, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada /Coalition pour le droit a l' avortement au Canada,

Needed: Female Coaches

This is an interesting article about the drive by the Coaching Association of Canada to get more women coaching in amateur sports. Having been the assistant coach of a baseball team last summer (it was a mixed team but mostly 12-16 year old boys), I have to say that the rewards of coaching youth sports are great! As the only female coach in the league though, I definitely felt the gender divide, and was sometimes singled out by opposing teams because of my sex. Still, in a mixed league with only about 4 girls spread over five teams, a lot of the parents and girls really appreciated my presence.

I like the approach that the article suggests to get women involved:

"Qualified people often do not volunteer because nobody asks them," says Sheilagh Croxon, a consultant with the Women in Coaching program, the CAC and coach of high performance women athletes in synchronized swimming.

"And when they are asked to coach, many women decline because they think that they need expert skills. The strategy for recruiting women will reflect this research.

"We are going to work with our community partners to appeal to women personally. We'll ensure that there are women mentors or co-coaches for the new women coaches."

With the summer coming up and amateur sports of all varieties in full swing, I encourage all women (and men!) to get involved in coaching.

The Charter and Womens' Rights

Yesterday marked the end of a three part series in the Globe and Mail on The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its impact on Canadian Life. In particular, the Globe highligted 'important' cases where the Charter's influence on society was shaped. Of the three prominent lawyers commentating, 2 cite the Morgentaler case as a major stepping stone in the evolution of the Charter as a powerful tool in contesting the 'tyranny of the majority.' The Morgentaler case gave Canadian women the right to choose, a right often taken for granted. The Morgentaler case is highly political and the fact that two out of three of these 'men' highlight it (although for different reasons) is heartening. But, one has not. So, what gives?

The article goes on to explain the recent weakening of the charter in Canadian politics:

Whether the Charter will look as robust in another 25 years is open to debate. Gusts of discontent from the ideological right have increasingly driven senior courts to take cover. In addition, the costs of litigation have sent the price of a Charter challenge soaring out of reach for ordinary litigants and many public-interest groups.

Coupled with the slow starvation of legal-aid programs and the recent demise of the federal Court Challenges Program, which financed test cases and legal interventions, the future looks bleak for Charter challengers.

"We are stuck with this Charter that looks wonderful on paper, but it's just that -- paper -- unless people have the ability to enforce their rights," said Bruce Ryder, a law professor at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School. "Only those who drive a Cadillac get to use the Charter highway."

Amid these grim prospects, the courts are sure to face more sensitive and politically volatile issues -- including topics such as terrorism, reproductive technology, euthanasia, cloning and sophisticated electronic intrusions into privacy. The Supreme Court's landmark 2005 Chaoulli ruling, which said that patients can seek private care if their needs are not met in a timely fashion, is also bound to spawn more cases attempting to map out the boundaries of medicare.

On another front, modifications to the appointment process for Supreme Court of Canada judges have raised serious questions about who will decide these cases. If the ideological views of judicial nominees become a dominant consideration for future governments, the Supreme Court could end up resembling its U.S. counterpart, where liberal and conservative factions are entrenched and predictable."

Oh dear. Given all the charter has achieved for women this seems troubling to me. I don't think that judges hold too much political clout in view of the charter; in fact, I see the Charter as the necessary antidote to the 'supreme clout' of the 'prima inter pares' (ha! equals indeed, tell that one to Steven Harper) prime minister. So what to do about all this?

The Charter is an essential tool for those marginalized in a majoritarian society. Its increasing 'distance' from those it was created to serve is alarming--to say the least.

Ms. Stronach's Departure from Politics by Ann Wicks

11:52am Today
Letter to the Editor:

As the media reflects on Ms. Stronach’s departure from politics, two things are clear: there are still barriers for women in politics and the media does not know how to cover women in politics.

Today, our nation’s newspapers used these words to describe Ms. Stronach: all butt and no-brains, blonde-ambition, princess, Daddy’s little girl, a lady under suspicion, the other woman etc. What message does this send to women?

Politics is a man’s game and you are not welcome. Women still encounter barriers when seeking elected office: stereotyping and perceptions of women's roles and abilities; few women role models; media imbalances in the treatment of women politicians, family commitments; failure of political parties to bolster women candidates, and exclusion from informal party networks.

Canadians need to ask their political leaders: is it just for the voices of half the population to be excluded from power? What are you going to do about it?

Ann Wicks
Executive Director
Equal Voice: Electing More Women in Canada

For more information on women in Canadian politics, please visit

May's Partisan Politics

Well, it seems Ms. May has run into some roadblocks in her bid to win the Green party's first seat ever--namely the (seemingly impossible) dissolution of party lines. Is the overly cumbersome strict partisan nature of our political system ever going to go away? It's debatable at best.

Unfortunately, partisan politics is the primary source of public opinion and vote generation in elections; opposing party lines (and 'supposedly' conflicting ideologies) inform voting practices and aid the Canadian public to make 'informed' decisions (might we say non-reflectively?) about their choices for public office.

I think the 'backscratching' here has huge potential toward achieving change--rather than stagnating in the weeds of perpetual ideological opposition--but maybe that's just me? Dion's recognition of May's potential political clout is a HUGE step towards recognizing not only a female leader, but the issue she stands for first. In fact, not once in the entire article is the fact that May is a woman mentioned!!! Here ideas trump gender lines.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm a feminist because...(Randy Reaume)

Antigone is launching a new feature called "I'm a feminist because.." in which we do short interviews with men or women of all walks of life who self-identify as feminists. Since my father recently 'came out' as a feminist this Christmas and since he's played a key role in raising me to believe that I can do anything despite my gender, I wanted him to be the first person featured. So, here is his interview... which I must say made me all misty eyed and reminded me of why I love my father so much!

What does 'feminism' mean to you?

Feminism is to me a natural thing. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid the imposition that humanity and society make, without consideration to each person's individuality, of positive or negative influences on its members. My personal viewpoint has always been to focus on the potential and the contribution each individual makes on his or her time.

With societal imposed standards of conduct and morality on sexuality and gender, the impact of each individual’s uniqueness is inhibited. Feminism is the tool we wield to break the mold of normalcy and make others question the norms.

Why do you think its important to consider yourself a feminist?

I have three daughters. My goal from the beginning was to mold their attitudes and actions so as not to accept the societal stereotype. As a new father sitting many times in the middle of the night trying to calm an upset infant, I realized that I held in my arms (whether it was a male child or a female child) the unlimited potential of a free willed human being. My goal as a father was to allow that unlimited potential to be freed and cultivated.

As the project manager of this endeavour, I will admit the challenge at the time seemed daunting and at times unrealistic, but oh what a challenge it would be to raise a child unafraid to reach for whatever success they desired and not be held back by societal norms but stretch for that elusive desire many would not begin to strive for. Therefore, if feminist is the label society would give me for my efforts then I feel it is important that I be identified as such. However, my goal was always for the title of a responsible parent.

How has your feminism influenced the way you act in your life?

Feminism has always caused me a great deal of consideration. I mean to say through the many trials I have faced since becoming a father of a daughter, I have tried when possible to consider my response at each fork in the road.

I suppose had I been the father to all male children I would not have followed an enlightened path. Instead, I would have probably continued in the mold of my all male family. However, once I was given the responsibility of raising a female child I had to rethink all of my norms; evaluating and CONSIDERING paths, reactions, responses, and plans for their best interests.

What main hurdle do you think women still face?

Women themselves are the main hurdle women still face. Until women stop allowing themselves to be denigrated, decide to demand that those attitudes change and drive that change through their daughters by infusing them with the knowledge that they do not have to subject themselves to this treatment, the male will continue to take advantage of their sexuality.

I for one think we have taken a huge step backwards in realizing our feminist goals by allowing the hip hop and rap industry to publish the denigrating music and videos our youth culture is being subjected to. The male youth will see this as an opportunity to objectify women and their sexuality rather than to glorify in the strengths each brings to the table.

What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of feminism?

The misunderstanding of who a feminist is. I am quite sure that many who do not truly know my beliefs would not view me as a feminist, in fact, I may even be viewed as being chauvinistic. Thank god my daughter knows who I really am.

Damned if We Do, Damned if We Don't...

Okay... so don't worry, this blog is not turning into an "All Belinda, All the Time" free-for-all but upon the announcement of her retirement from politics and her return to Magna I would like to look at Belinda as a way through which to analyze an interesting problem that I think a lot of women who are in politics confront.

This is of course tedious questions about appearance! Indeed, it seems that women just can't do anything right when it comes to how they look. Whether its suggesting that Rona Ambrose worries more about her hair than her portfolio, or endlessly theorizing about aspects of Hillary Clinton's body, hair or fashion sense, there seems to be a much greater concentration on the way female politicians 'look' than on their politics, and definitely a much greater concentration on their appearances than on those of their male counterparts.

But if we criticize women for looking 'too good' and therefore being silly bimbos like Stronach or Ambrose who, in concentrating on their appearance so much, supposedly neglect their political roles, we perhaps malign those who do not fit into our aesthetic ideals for women even more.

Sheila Copps, who was so often maligned in newspaper editorial cartoons for being 'dowdy' wrote about this for the Toronto Sun:

In my early years I was not too concerned about the wrapping. I believed what I had to say should trump what I was wearing. But I should probably have taken those lessons more to heart. A current editor of this paper covering my run for the provincial Liberal leadership in 1982 described my hairdo as a roman helmet. I, of course, thought he should be covering my ideas and not my head. But, especially for women politicians, appearance counts.

I once had a voter pledge his support because he liked my teeth. I regularly received letters from Parliament watchers commenting on what I wore and suggesting material changes, literally. One fan (and I use the term advisedly) even offered complimentary botox treatments.

has a great analysis of how the fashion choices of female politicians in Washington are endlessly written about and debated as thought they were relevant news.

Women are often seen as too boring for wearing conservative 'safe' suits, or too 'sexy' or 'preoccupied with fashion' for wearing more stylish garb. The moral of the story... its not fashion or hair that is the problem but 'women' themselves. How can you get it right, if essentially, the problem is not your fashion choices or your hair but indeed, your gender.

Stronach's political mentor, former Ontario premier David Peterson, spoke to the Canadian Press about the attention that Stronach got saying:

"Look, good-looking women get more attention than they probably deserve. But they also get more criticism than they probably deserve. The bad part is everybody's got an opinion on your hair colour and who you're going out with."

But I wonder when is this extra 'attention' ever a good thing? When has there been a prominent, attractive female politician whose appearance and corrolary intelligence were not a major source of debate? Or a supposedly 'dowdy' female politician who did not get ridiculed for her looks? Likewise, when has there ever been a male politician who had to experience either of those extremes?
And why are female politicians more often fodder for the gossip columns and style pages then they are for the news sections and op-eds. Just take this 'lovely' feature in the National Post which compiles the works of a gossip columnist over the course of Belinda's career in politics.

In my case at least, Stronach was right yesterday when she said that her bad experience in politics has actually been an inspiration for other women:

"While there are many nasty and ugly comments that have been made, it has also in a strange way has inspired younger women to get involved because they want to change that," she told CTV's Mike Duffy.

I for one think that it is about time that this is changed for women in politics and women in all walks of life... After all, with popular radio host Imus, calling the Rutgers Women's Basketball team nothing but a bunch of 'Nappy Headed Hoes' how can we deny the ways in which women's accomplishments in any field are trumped or outshone by their appearance which is considered the ultimate arbiter of their identity and value? Are women only worthwhile if they are attractive and conform to beauty ideals? How silly of me... I thought we'd gotten to the point where we could consider people based on the content of their character.

Just for fun: Feministing subjects male politicians to the same criticism that women have to go through about their appearance... it's quite funny.

What if Belinda Had Been Bob?

I have always been fascinated with how much ire, and spite that mentions of Belinda Stronach occasion. I first became interested in her when she ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party. At the time, I was shocked by how badly she was treated and ridiculed by the media and the general public. Apparently, because she was blonde and good looking, she was also necessarily stupid. After her break up with Peter McKay and her subsequent move to the Liberals, we also found out that she was essentially what boiled down to being a useless prostitute. Excellent. Lovely. Wonderful. And here I thought we were in the 21rst century. My apologies, shall I get out my apron now and get back in my place?

Think what you like about Belinda, but I strongly believe that the way in which she was treated in public life is indicative of a problematic gender bias within politics that is simultaneously disavowed even as it is perpetuated. Whenever I hear people talk badly about Belinda they like to contend that it has nothing to do with her gender... even when they are attacking things that have everything to do with her gender. They then, of course, go on to attack other prominent women in Canadian politics like Kim Campbell, Rona Ambrose and Martha Hall Findley claiming its not 'women' per see that are the problem but just these women. Uh huh. Okay. Keep believing that.

In the recent Chatelaine, Kim Campbell mentions Belinda saying: "She would have had a better ride if she were not a woman." I think that's something very interesting to consider. What if Belinda wasn't a woman? What if Belinda had actually been born 'Bob' and Bob Stronach had suddenly appeared on the scene to run for leadership of the Conservative Party? Would the media or anyone else have been so concerned about calling him a 'Silly Heir'(And can someone please tell me why Heir is not nearly as derogatory as 'Heiress)? Would his experience at being CEO of one of Canada's largest companies have been discredited as Belinda's so often is? Would he have simply been called Daddy's Boy, a silly, stupid creature who has had everything given to him and who has no hope in politics?

Or would people have said that he had 'balls' for running for leadership in 2004? Instead of you know... those icky 'ovary' things that Belinda has... as if anyone possessing those could be gutsy or a good leader! Because having ovaries and, even more offensive, having blonde hair and being attractive means that you're an idiot. Life is, after all, the punchline of a dumb blonde joke.

In my interview with Kim Campbell, what I really appreciated was her comment on how women's successes just don't 'stick' to them in the same way men's do. Of the 18 men that preceded Kim Campbell as Prime Minister, only 8 had more cabinet experience than she did. But that didn't stop people, and the media, from characterizing her as someone who had never done anything before!

So, I want to take this moment to consider exactly what Belinda has done in her career in business and politics, so that maybe the next time someone immediately tries to characterize her as a good for nothing 'woman' (Ewww!), they perhaps think twice and actually look at her accomplishments and whether they think they are good or bad at least take them for what they are. Its time that women's accomplishments start to have staying power!

Belinda Timeline: (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

  • A member of the board of directors of Magna from 1988 until 2004.
  • Became a vice-president of the company in 1995 and executive vice-president in 1999, until her appointment as president and chief executive officer.
  • Has chaired the boards of Decoma International Inc., Tesma International Inc., and Intier Automotive Inc., all in the auto parts sector.
  • Was a founding member of the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council and served on the Ontario Task Force on Productivity, Competitiveness and Economic Progress.
  • Is a director of the Yves Landry Foundation, which furthers technological education and skills training in the manufacturing sector.
  • In February 2001, she was appointed chief executive officer of Magna. While CEO, the company added 3,000 jobs in Canada. Under her leadership Magna had record sales and profits each year.
  • In 2001, the National Post named Stronach as the most powerful businesswoman in Canada; and, in the same year, the World Economic Forum named her a "Global Leader of Tomorrow." Fortune Magazine ranked her #2 in its list of the world's most powerful women in business in 2002.
  • She was also named one of Canada's "Top 40 Under 40." In April 2004, Time Magazine ranked her as one of the world's 100 most influential people.
  • In 2004, she contested the leadership of the newly formed Conservative Party, finishing a strong second to Stephen Harper.
  • In the 2004 federal electionn, she was elected Conservative MP for the riding of Newmarket—Aurora in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • On May 17, 2005, she crossed the floor of the House from the Conservatives to the governing Liberals and entered cabinet as minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and minister responsible for Democratic Renewal.
  • During her time as MP Stronach chaired the Liberal’s Women’s Commission and was instrumental in launching the Liberal’s Pink Book, which contains policy suggestions for issues that affect women.
  • Stronach was targetted for defeat in the 2006 election as part of Conservatives' larger goal of a breakthrough in Ontario, especially in the Toronto suburbs (popularly known as the 905s). However, while the Conservatives won a minority government, Stronach defeated her Conservative challenger, Lois Brown, by an eight-point margin.
  • She was a strong voice for women in politics and for liberal renewal.
  • In 2006 She co-chaired the Millennium Promise Convention in Montreal with Canadian Television personality Rick Mercer. This event was a national campaign to enlist Canadians to help protect children in Africa from the ravages of malaria.

Daily Links...

  • This article in Arabian Business is pretty awesome. Its about Forsa (which means 'Opportunity' in Arabic), which is an investment fund created 'by women and for women'. The fund is holding a forum to help empower women in their career aspirations (Arabian Business).

  • Apparently the religious right in Iraq are forcing women to dress traditionally. Faiza Abdal-Majeed told The Washington Times that because of this religious conservatism "We're being pushed back 1,000 years in time" (

  • After last month's political gaff in Japan that saw the government try to pretend that it had nothing to do with the thousands of women who were forced into being 'comfort women' during the Second World War, here's an article about a fund that had been developed to help comfort women... that seems to try to compensate them without having the government straightforwardly admit its wrongdoing. Come on Japan! Just own up to the suffering that was inflicted on thousands of women from China, South Korea and North Korea already! After having gone through all that they already have... I really don't think these women should have to spend their twillight years fighting for an apology! (BBC).

  • A Swedish study says that 'Gender Equality' is bad for women's health. Sounds quite sensational... but let's look at the fine print which this Edmonton Sun article does superbly! It turns out that by 'gender equality' they really mean women who work and then have to go home and pull a 'double shift' because their partners don't actually belief in real 'gender equality'. Equality between the genders is about far more than just women gaining parity within the workforce... the gendered division of work within the home obviously has to change as well (The Edmonton Sun).

  • In light of our article in our recent issue about Human Trafficking, this is a heartbreaking story about Assam's 'Missing Women'. In a region wracked by conflict and home to a quarter of a million people who have been displaced, it is unfortunately not surprising that it has become a hotbed for this type of activity (BBC).

  • The Golden Women's Community Resource Center that serves women in rural BC has received good news! It will be getting a $50,000 grant that it applied for from the Status of Women Canada. The center, which has relied on SWC for support for the last 27 years, had a tense few months after the Status of Women agency was rehauled and given new funding priorities which caused them to cut short their hours. Now they will be using the money to fund their program titled: ‘Putting Women on the payroll: Overcoming the challenges in rural B.C. to improve women’s economic status in our community’ (The Golden Star).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Girl Like Me

Kiri Davis, 16, is the maker of this amazing film called "A Girl Like Me". It was featured in our latest issue under 'Five Things we Love' and I just wanted to link to it so you could all see how great it was! Here are Davis' own words regarding what she wanted to accomplish by making this film:

I wanted to make a film that explored the standards of beauty imposed on today's black girls. How do these standards affect her self-esteem or self-image. Through making this film I learned a lot about where some of these standards might stem from.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gender and Leadership

In major league nation states, women are making appearances in top leadership roles. America and France are major western industrialized nations with females running for leadership of government. Particularly in the US case, I have been paying attention to the news and media surrounding and no I don't care if she is in a pant or skirt suit. This is NOT relevant to her progress as presidential candidate!

As for Hilary herself... I'm not sure how I feel about her as a feminist . On one hand, we desperetly need to see responsible leadership and female representation in the US but I have trouble with the example a woman candidate presents when she doesn't leave her husband when such obvious disrespect is present.

This article really discusses the perception of female leaders.

Check it out, let us know what you think about this and share an opinion (or two) about Hilary. Below is an expert from the article:

"Gender is no longer an issue of competence. The crude question of "can a woman hold top political office?" has transmuted into exacting assessments of the candidates' personal attributes according to sexist stereotypes."

Companies Promoting Women-Friendly Policies

This is an awesome article in the Globe and Mail called 'Flex Time, That's So 2005' that talks about ways in which certain companies are working harder to keep female employees happy and ultimately to retain them. The companies that it mentions are UPS Canada, Merck Frost, and Rogers. They've done this through leadership development courses for women, through women's networks within and outside their companies and through encouraging equitable hiring and pay practices. But they've also tried to be understanding to mothers through increased maternity pay and family friendly policies. For example:

Visitors to Merck Frost's office may, from time to time, see a child or two spinning in a chair or doodling on a parent's desk. That's because employees know that, should their babysitter pull a no-show, it's all right for them to take their children to work.

"We welcome children in the building," says Ms. Graham. "Our belief is that if we support our employees not just at work but also with their family lives, then they're going to be happier and more productive, and they're going to stay."

I think this is a great trend that I hope will catch on with other companies! But I also think that 'Family friendly' policies don't just benefit women, that their implementation is a great and necessary step ahead for fathers as well.

Frightening Workplace Stats from the article (i.e. why we obviously still have a long way to go):

Percentage of top earners in Canada who were women in 2006

Portion of positions held by women in what's considered the "executive pipeline" in 2006


Monday, April 9, 2007

Homophobic Comedies...

The CBC has a fascinating article entitled 'Funny That Way:Blades of Glory and the Homophobic Impulse'. Its a great expose on one of the things I hate - the tired reliance of 'gay jokes' for cheap comedic effect. Because it's okay to laugh at gay people...

Even in 2007, post-Brokeback Mountain, post-Ellen and Rosie, when Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington is chastened by his bosses and sent to rehab for referring to a gay castmate as a “faggot,” making fun of gays is still comedy gold. With so many targets now forbidden from the comedy repertoire (like Jews, black people, women … unless they are horny, fat, black women played by men in padded suits — you go, Eddie!), gay men are one of the last remaining minority groups that can be mocked with impunity.

Because what’s funnier than suggesting that two guys with – as Chazz would put it – “matching dongs” are doing it? Such anti-gay humour doesn’t just litter sophomoric gross-out comedies like Little Man, Boat Trip and the Scary Movie franchise, but shows up in the relentless gay-baiting banter between Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest on family-friendly American Idol, as well as in popular, mainstream movies.

I know. I know - I'm confirming the fact that feminists have no 'sense of humour' (I beg to differ my friends... I happen to be very funny!). As a devoted 'fag hag' myself, Blogger PegsPirate at Soup is Good Food articulates how I feel about this best:

There's this excuse when people go into comedies that they aren't there to think. That has to be the lamest excuse for tolerating this kind of hate.

Imagine saying to a gay friend: "I'm going to see a movie that gets its laughs by saying gay behaviour is 'icky,' 'unmanly,' and something real men don't ever dare stray into ... but that doesn't mean I'm homophobic or I hate you, I'm just going because I want a brainless laugh." Call me crazy, but that would make you a bad friend.

Surrey Female Councilors Rebel; Form Coalition

I was really intrigued by article this= the other day about the shakeup in parties and councillors in Surrey municipal politics. Three women left the well-established party SET to strike out on their own:

[SET President] Scott Nicoll gazed at the resignation letter from Surrey Electors Team members Barbara Steele, Mary Martin and Linda Hepner. They were leaving the party to join Mayor Dianne Watts in a coalition of independents called Surrey First.

The story sounds like an excellent example of women working together:

First-term councillor Martin said she joined the new coalition because she wants to support Watts in the next election.

"I certainly want to see our mayor run in the next term and win in the next term because we've got so much more that we want to do," she said. "So it was important for me to be on the team the mayor was on."

Martin said the new Surrey First team is in many ways just a reflection of the close working relationship the four women have already built over several issues, such as crime reduction.

Women Know Your Limits!!

This is a lovely video about why women should not give their opinions in the company of men. Hilarious! An actual quote from the video:

The lady has foolishly decided to join the conversation with a wild and dangerous opinion of her own. What half-baked drivel! See how the men look at her with utter contempt

Daily Links...

  • Check out this awesome article about the Women's Executive Network which recently paired 92 of the most powerful women in Canada with 92 proteges from all areas of business and government (Globe and Mail).

  • is not always a magnet for informative or gender sensitive articles about working women (I will never forgive them for their article this summer advising men not to marry 'career women') and this article questioning whether women are happy with the glass ceiling is no great exception. It does however have a great link to tips on how to break through the glass ceiling at the bottom (

  • This is an awesome article about a woman who runs her own business selling sustainable, biodegradable product packaging (Globe and Mail).

  • Now that women are making more money, Forbes reports on one of the costs of success - women paying alimony (

  • Maybe I'm a bit of a prude... but this creeps me out. A porn star whose parents manage her career! Yikes! (ABC News).

  • Reliable Plant, an industry magazine, has an interesting article about gender still being a hurdle for women execs (Reliable Plant).

  • Finally, here's an article about women being more worried about retirement and less prepared. I know that the majority of women here reading the blog are young... but its never too early to start thinking about retirement! (Courier Post).

**Weekly Events April 9-15th**

Hey everyone,
I hope your long weekends were restful and fun. There are wonderful events going on in Vancouver this week (thanks to Amanda for passing along all of the info)! If you hear of other events coming up in April, send me the links/details and I'll post it up :)
Take care,

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Room 205, Student Union Building, UBC
Will include: Election of the New Executive, speeches, honoured guests.
Please contact Mia for more details!

Thursday, April 12, 2007
7:30pm Reception, 8:30pm Show
Lamplighter Pub & Dominion Hotel Lobby, 210 Abbott St., Vancouver BC
Multi-media art installation (displayed until May 3rd in Dominion Hotel Lobby), Magazine Launch, Burlesque and Live Music performances
Admission $10

Saturday, April 14, 2007
CAW Canada Union Hall, 326 12th st., New Westminster BC
The World Peace Forum Society Board hosts a "strategic visioning" meeting for the discussion of building alliances in order to work toward a peaceful, just, and sustainable world. A social event with a cash bar follows
Admission by donation

Monday, April 16, 2007
Art of Loving, 1819 W. 5th ave, Vancouver BC
Women's guide to self-pleasure, from the basics to more advanced techniques.
Fee $30
Info: 604-742-9988.

May 24-26, 2007
Conference: Feminism(s): Strengthening the Ties
SFU Harbour Centre
Registration now OPEN
Check out website for more info!

Posted by Edith

Another Post on Why Rape is Not Funny...

Since we're on the subject, I came across this great documentary the other day called "No". The documentary addresses issues of rape in African-American communities:

Eleven years in the making, NO! unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in African-American communities, through intimate testimonies from Black women victim/survivors, commentaries from acclaimed African-American scholars and community leaders, archival footage, spirited music, dance, and performance poetry. NO! also examines how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia.

The documentary seems very interesting and I was very moved watching the trailer... which can be seen on You Tube

Rape is not a Reliable Source of Humour.

Oh, dear.

Apparently someone at the University of Western Ontario thought it would be funny to make fun of 'Take Back the Night' in the university paper The Gazette's 'Spoof' issue. This led to a charming piece called 'Labia Majora Carnage" that features the improbable and inappropriate phrase 'Take Back the Nightie'.

The piece, which personally targets some prominent campus feminists, suggests that such women need to be taught a lesson via rape. Blogger Laurel points out why this is not acceptable:

Satire is one thing. Making fun of feminists? Sure, we've all seen that before and I'm sure that's nothing we all haven't had to endure, like the obvious slights at Take Back the Night and the Vagina Monologues. I hate it, but you VERY MUCH cross the line when you suggest that "taking someone into a dark alley to teach them a lesson" is ok and when you suggest that a woman, any woman, but especially MY FRIEND -- not to mention, an active feminist and someone who was actively and vocally criticizing the Gazette, be raped to be "taught a lesson" and that she would enjoy it. Rape is not an ok thing to suggest to teach someone a lesson or to put someone in their place, or to suggest that someone was asking for it.

It's a joke? Not only is it not funny, it's violence.On top of the violence of this, it makes me especially angry because it is clearly a move to try to silent vocal women, feminists, on campus (not to mention, to silence feminist criticisms of THEIR paper - picking out my friend as their target makes that pretty obvious), and it also works to discourage other women from joining in the fight.

The paper's response? That overly PC minority groups should 'Get Over Themselves' Uh huh. Lovely. I'm sure they'll get right on that.

James Phelan posted a great takedown of the article on Facebook which explains exactly why it is not funny.

On a side note... I'd just like to suggest that most campus 'satire' is decidedly unfunny. It's not even that its offensive most of the time but that it's blatantly uninteresting and (ironically) uneducated. My idea of satire has always been that it is a challenge to the dominant social order and practices and not a way to reinscribe prejudices. I'm currently reading an article called 'Are Deconstruction and Satire Secretly the Same Thing?' by Robert Phiddian which is very interesting in this regard... I suggest that all campus satirists should read it!