Monday, July 30, 2007

Boobgate Continues

We here at Antigone have a thing for breasts; in fact, we love them so much we feel, like the American Public during Nixon's reign, that it is scandalous to keep them under wraps.
Well, not quite.

An article on office etiquette in the Globe and Mail's "Life" section details the do's and dont's of 'bratiquette.' Apparently women *must wear nipple cups because, heaven forbid, it might offend someone that their body parts are functioning naturally in an air-conditioned environment.

Granted, lingerie is geared largely toward aesthetics rather than functionality, but it still seems odd to me that women should have to compensate for the marketing and clothing choices that are largely available to them. Do we ask men to wear a jock strap to work? Certainly not. This requirement is also somewhat discriminatory: breasts come in all shapes and sizes, asking women who have this particular problem to compensate is like asking men who have excessive body hair to shave it routinely.

And while I'm speaking of men, I think the stipulations around bra straps aren't that far off from the requirement that men be "clean-shaven." What is clean and what is dirty? What makes a bra strap offensive? For women, they are almost as natural as facial hair--ubiquitous and yet, continually hidden or disguised...

As Ms. Mann points out, "I think it's important to have the right bra where the strap doesn't fall off your shoulder and you're constantly sticking your hand in your blouse to pull it back up."

Even if a code of bra conduct doesn't exist, these clearly are not unmentionable issues. On the contrary, they're fun to flesh out. When addressing questions of cleavage, Ms. Collins cautions, jokingly: "When you see the coin slot, you've gone too far."

I was raised in the generation which made the visible bra strap much more acceptable than it once was. And though I don't advocate displaying bra-straps as a fashion statement, I certainly feel that to be chastised for adjusting something which society requires we wear is unfair. It's happened to us all once or twice; we fix the problem and move on.

This isn't to say I advocate cleavage baring shirts in an office environment; quite the contrary, I agree that it (cleavage) can be a distraction. However, I do think that asking women to wear nipple cups is tantamount to asking them to become 'men.' For the 10 seconds it will take for a woman to put a sweater on, her colleagues can look away. I for one am not about to rush out and buy a bra for that...

The opinion of the personal consultant interviewed for the article seems to me to be part of the larger conservative backlash in work etiquette, which has become familiar in the last few years.

So.

What do we say to poor Hillary? Is it wrong her "coin slot" was in view? In the boardroom tradition: yes, women have breasts--next topic on the agenda please...

Disney Movies and Masculinity




Here is a movie that explores masculinity in Disney movies! I think it's really important to also look at how young boys are influenced and formed by masculine stereotypes and how that limits boys from full personhood and healthy and equal relationships with women!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Italian Connection

A video in the Globe and Mail's multimedia centre presented some more interesting points of debate to follow our observations from 'across the pond.'

The video discussed a prevalent sentiment among young Italian women. For these women, using one's sexuality to sell things is NOT part of the process of objectification. Indeed, the prevalence and tolerance of highly sexualized advertisements for everything from cellphones to, well, just about anything else, seems to indicate that 'sex sells' in Italy. More frighteningly, it also belies the extent to which such sentiment is just 'part of the daily routine,' for Italians.

The video references a news show show on a major* network during prime time where two scantily clad females dance in front of the male news anchors. Apparently, the news just isn't interesting enough for Italians; indeed, there is nothing 'new' about this news, it's an old story. In equally primitive terms: man objectifies woman, woman becomes property and proof of his importance.

Two interesting women are interviewed in the video. The first, Lilii Gruber, was the first female news anchor in Italy, and is now a member of European Parliament. Lilli observes that many young Italian women feel it is easier to get by on their looks, and they succumb to the chauvinism which seems to run rampant in Italy.
The second 'powerful woman' is the minister for equal opportunity Barbara Pollastrini, she says she is "disgusted by the continual objectification she sees in Italian media." However, she notes there is a rising group of Italian women who are beginning to shift the balance of opportunity, which at present is so heavily weighted in favour of men.

Nonetheless, that chauvinism is so prevalent, and more disturbingly, so prevalently embraced by many women makes me think: how far does feminism extend?
Is the feminism we espouse here a function of our culture--indeed, does the Anglo conservatism which underlies Canadian culture make it easier for us to understand the problems which arise with sexualizing daily life? This may be slightly offensive to some, but I speak from my own experience, and I simply wonder what it is that makes these women so inclined to accept such a position in life--it can't be, as Gruber suggests, simply because it's easier, can it? Why has chauvinism been so openly embraced, or rather, ignored by Italian culture?

Thoughts?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Equality Will Take Generations... and other Bad News from Across the Pond.

The Guardian (one of my favourite print publications) published an article yesterday about the findings of the Equal Opportunity Commission in Britain. The Commission found the usual suspects


· A "power gap" in parliament, where only 20% of MPs are women. At the current rate, it will take 195 years for this to close and 65 years to achieve a gender balance in the boardrooms of the top companies listed in the FTSE 100 index;
· A "pensions gap" that leaves retired women with 40% less income than male contemporaries; this gap could take 45 years to close;
· A "part-time pay gap" will take 25 years to close and the "full-time pay gap" 20 years, in a system that now pays women 38% less per hour than men for working part time and 17% for full-timers;
· A "health gap," disadvantaging men that may never close unless the NHS adopts more male-friendly practices to address the problem that men aged 16-44 are less than half as likely as women to consult their GP, resulting in later diagnosis of serious illnesses.



What I think is most important is the seriousness with which they approach the problem. They have developped a commision to deal with the issues, and though acknowledging the strides that women have made in the last 30 years, they don't pretend that we have achieved 'equality' within our current social/political climate.




"life around us has not caught up and we are living with the consequences of an unfinished social revolution. We are still faced with many workplaces, institutions and services designed for an age when women stayed at home. In other areas of modern life, inequality underpins life and death issues. For example, every month seven women are killed by their partner or ex-partner."

Women are five times more likely to feel unsafe when walking alone in their area after dark. But not all issues of public safety result in advantages for men. Over the past year 13% of young men were victims of violent crime, compared with 7% of young women.

The commission said 45% of pregnant women experience "tangible discrimination". Mothers spend 12% more time than fathers looking after children and the "chores gap" is worsening, with women spending an average 180 minutes a day on housework, against 101 minutes for men.

The EOC set five priorities. They were: closing the income gap between men and women; giving better support to families; modernising public services; providing equal access to justice and safety; and sharing power equally.

Jenny Watson, the commission's chairwoman, said: "Today, most women work, many men no longer define themselves as breadwinners and both sexes often struggle to find the time they need to care for others in their lives. Despite many advances, Britain's institutions have not caught up with these changes.

"A country that channels women into low-paid work, fails to adequately support families and forces people who want to work flexibly to trade down in jobs pays a high price in terms of child poverty, family breakdown and low productivity. This is a challenge that Gordon Brown's new government urgently needs to address."

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "With men still dominating senior positions in business, politics, and almost every walk of life, it's crucial that achieving gender equality is a top priority for the new commission."

Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader and minister for women, said: "There is still inequality between men and women in our economy and society that needs to be tackled ... We aim to achieve this by giving women more choices in the workplace, in public life and in the home."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Female Politicians Would Rather be Baking Cookies?


Oh, Warren! Warren Kinsella,blogger and Liberal statagist posted what amounts to a very sexist picture on his blog Tuesday of Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod. As you can see above, it features her with a thought bubble over her head that says: “I very much wish I was somewhere else, at this very moment. Baking cookies, perhaps. Oh my.”

Come on people! Why are we making such sexist and inappropriate jokes at this moment in history! Definitely a bad move on Kinsella's part! Luckily he has realized this - taken the photo down and apologizing for it.

Remember bloggers - Feminists don't have a sense of humour... when the jokes are not funny, play on sexist stereotypes and demean female politicians.... for being female. Read the Globe's take below:

But it was the depiction of Ms. MacLeod, who at 31 is the youngest member of the legislature and the mother of a two-year-old daughter, that raised eyebrows.

“What he did was sexist,” Ms. MacLeod said in an interview Tuesday. “It was wrong and it belongs in another era of politics, not in 2007.”

Ms. MacLeod has spent her first term as an MPP trying to break down barriers for women in politics by encouraging more to run for elected office. She said she would much prefer to talk about ways to make the legislature more family-friendly than how a Liberal Party strategist has stereotyped her as Betty Crocker.

Mr. Kinsella removed the offending photo from his blog Tuesday afternoon. He declined a request for an interview. But he said on his blog that he removed the photo after a New Democrat member of the legislature tried to “make hay” out of the photo.

“I took it down earlier today because my wife – who is a lot smarter than I am – thought it wasn't funny,” he explained on his blog. “She's right. So that's what happened, for those of you who are asking. I unreservedly apologize to anyone who was genuinely offended.”

The cookie remark appeared to be a reference to former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton, who during the 1992 presidential campaign defended her choice of a law career by saying: “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas.”

Ms. MacLeod and New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo said the blog item could not have come at a worse time. Party leaders of all stripes are attempting to woo more women to public life. Women account for one-third of the Liberal Party's slate for the election. But five of the legislature's 26 women have chosen not to run again.

“It is just completely outrageous and appalling that someone who is a spin doctor for the McGuinty Liberals would come out on his website with such a blatantly sexist cartoon,” Ms. DiNovo told reporters. “What does that say to women who are thinking of going into politics?”

Monday, July 23, 2007

Oh my God! Hillary's got Boobs! Cover the children's eyes!




Are you kidding me? Apparently, the above photo has been heralded as 'Boobgate 2007'. Not breasts! Not on the Senate floor! Run! Hide! Find that bunker grand-dad built to protect against the nuclear holocaust!


Honestly, this is worse than a 1950s campy horror film. Don't panic people! Hillary's (very minimal) display of cleavage is not the herald of the end of the world.


Ugh! I roll my eyes at all this hubbub. Women have breasts. They're in politics. Someday one is bound to see them peeking out of their wardrobes. If you back away slowly and don't make any sudden movement, chances are they won't attack....
The following is the Washington Post's take on the state of Hillary's mammaries.


There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.


She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

It was startling to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative -- aesthetically speaking -- environment of Congress. After all, it wasn't until the early '90s that women were even allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor. It was even more surprising to note that it was coming from Clinton, someone who has been so publicly ambivalent about style, image and the burdens of both.

The last time Clinton wore anything that was remotely sexy in a public setting surely must have been more than a decade ago, during Bill Clinton's first term in office when she was photographed wearing a black Donna Karan gown that revealed her shoulders. It was one of Karan's "cold-shoulder" dresses, inspired, Karan once noted, because a woman's shoulders remain sensuous and appealing regardless of her age.
Throughout Clinton's time as first lady, she wore clothes that were feminine and stately. But sexiness was not part of the image. Her second inaugural gown was by Oscar de la Renta. The original version of the gold lace dress had cap sleeves and a wide, jewel neckline. Clinton altered it so that it had long sleeves and a high, almost Victorian collar.

When she appeared on the cover of the December 1998 issue of Vogue, just after the Monica Lewinsky scandal had peaked, she wore another de la Renta gown, this one with a boat neck and long sleeves. She looked glamorous, regal and defiant. But one was not even tempted to mention the s-word.

As first lady, Hillary Clinton wore regal clothes, choosing Oscar de la Renta gowns, such as the one with a tight neckline at the 1997 Grammys. (Jeff Christensen - Reuters)By the time Clinton launched her first campaign for the Senate, she had found a desexualized uniform: a black pantsuit. Not a fitted, provocative suit, but merely an understated, flattering one. Clothes were off the table. End of discussion.
But as she has embarked on her campaign for president, she has given up the uniform. In its place has been a wide array of suits and jackets, in everything from dull khaki to canary yellow and sofa florals. Once again, she is playing the fashion field.

The cleavage, however, is an exceptional kind of flourish. After all, it's not a matter of what she's wearing but rather what's being revealed. It's tempting to say that the cleavage stirs the same kind of discomfort that might be churned up after spotting Rudy Giuliani with his shirt unbuttoned just a smidge too far. No one wants to see that. But really, it was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!

Not so long ago, Jacqui Smith, the new British home secretary, spoke before the House of Commons showing far more cleavage than Clinton. If Clinton's was a teasing display, then Smith's was a full-fledged come-on. But somehow it wasn't as unnerving. Perhaps that's because Smith's cleavage seemed to be presented so forthrightly. Smith's fitted jacket and her dramatic necklace combined to draw the eye directly to her bosom. There they were . . . all part of a bold, confident style package.

With Clinton, there was the sense that you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private. You were intruding -- being a voyeur. Showing cleavage is a request to be engaged in a particular way. It doesn't necessarily mean that a woman is asking to be objectified, but it does suggest a certain confidence and physical ease. It means that a woman is content being perceived as a sexual person in addition to being seen as someone who is intelligent, authoritative, witty and whatever else might define her personality. It also means that she feels that all those other characteristics are so apparent and undeniable, that they will not be overshadowed.

To display cleavage in a setting that does not involve cocktails and hors d'oeuvres is a provocation. It requires that a woman be utterly at ease in her skin, coolly confident about her appearance, unflinching about her sense of style. Any hint of ambivalence makes everyone uncomfortable. And in matters of style, Clinton is as noncommittal as ever.

India Elects First Woman President


The New York Times reports on a historic moment for India as they elect their first women president. Although it is mostly a ceremonial post, it is still considered a major symbollic step forward for a country the doesn't have the greatest track record on gender equality


India selected its first female president on Saturday, winning a vote seen as a symbolic victory for women contending with widespread discrimination.


Pratibha Patil, 72, won almost two-thirds of the votes cast by national lawmakers and state legislators. She had the support of the governing Congress Party and its political allies, and had been widely expected to win. The election of a woman to the office, which is mostly ceremonial, continues an Indian tradition of using the presidency to give a high-profile voice to disadvantaged groups.


“This is a victory of the principles of which our Indian people uphold,” Ms. Patil said in a brief statement to reporters, flashing the victory sign to her supporters.

While India has had several women in positions of power — most notably Indira Gandhi, who was elected to the more powerful position of prime minister in 1966, and her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi, who is the chairwoman of the Congress Party — women still face rampant discrimination here.

Many Indian families regard daughters as a liability due to a tradition requiring a bride’s family to pay a large dowry of cash and gifts. Consequently, their education and overall health is often neglected.

International groups estimate that 10 million female fetuses have been aborted here in the last two decades.

Ms. Patil defeated Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, in a race dogged by unprecedented mudslinging.
She will be sworn in as India’s 13th president on Wednesday.

The LA Times goes into more detail about some of the controversy surrounding the election of Patil. Apparently, there were some sketchy business dealings and also Patil's contention that she foresaw her nomination for presidency because a dead guru told her it would happen. Still, I think ultimately her position will do women in India a lot of good - a position shared by many Indian women as well!


India has already had a female prime minister, Indira Gandhi, one of the most powerful leaders this country has seen. But women are still underrepresented in politics, accounting for fewer than 10% of the members of the Lok Sabha, or lower house of Parliament. And they continue to face widespread discrimination in the workplace and at home.

I am grateful to the people of India, to all the men and women of India," Patil told reporters. "This is a victory for the principles which our Indian people uphold."Patil outpolled the candidate from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, current Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

[...]

Women rallied around Patil's candidacy as a major advance for their gender, even though some commentators noted that she received the nomination only after Congress Party leaders considered several male candidates before settling on her as a compromise. A national poll of women by the newsmagazine Outlook showed 68% in support of Patil for president.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Even the Pope Wears Prada??? You got to be kidding me!




ABC News feels the need to talk about female presidential candidates... well, sort of. Really, it has decided to publish an article that cattily talks about their clothing choices. Because as we've noted many times before, the media thinks that this is the most interesting facet of any female candidate! And get this... the article's online headline is 'Even the Pope Wears Prada'. Oh, dear! Stand back for some quality shaming of female politicians for their fashion choices.

When Argentina's foxy first lady and fashionista Cristina Kirchner announced July 2 that she would run for president, she allowed her long, black hair to cascade over a plunging neckline.

But America's first lady of politics, Hillary Rodham Clinton — who has often been compared to Kirchner — opted for a solid black pants suit during her recent presidential debate.

Other international women with brains and power, such as France's Ségolène Royal, flaunt their sexuality. But Americans prefer to play the dowdy card.

In a pragmatic nation with Puritan roots, "no nonsense" and "professional" get more votes than "sexy," say experts in both fashion and politics.

"In countries like Italy and France, the attitude is that they are leading the country and are supposed to be wearing fashionable clothes," said Valerie Steele, director and curator of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

But in the United States, "women are not supposed to be flaunting their sexuality, or be too flashy or sexy," she said. "It's expensive and time-consuming."

Clinton, who has relied on designer Oscar de la Renta since her White House days, has raised the retro pants suit to high art. One bright yellow version made a big fashion splash on this side of the Atlantic, with fashion writers describing it as "bright," "refreshed," "summery," "glamorous."

But not sexy.

A 54-year-old lawyer, Kirchner has been called "Imelda" — a reference to the shoe-mongering Filipino dictator's wife Imelda Marcos — for her vast collection of footwear.

In a YouTube cartoon, Kirchner is shown switching outfits from bikini to dominatrix get-up. Kirchner may have a shoe for every day of the year, but she is no intellectual lightweight. A sitting senator who has served in both legislative houses, she is President Néstor Kirchner's closest adviser.

And her hunger for designer fashion probably won't hurt her at the ballot box. The latest polls show she is likely to win the first round of balloting with 46 percent support and a more than 30 percentage point lead over two other leading presidential contenders, according to Britain's Independent

Okay... there's so much to critique and not enough time! First, why can't women chose to dress 'sexy' or 'conservative' without prompting a national referendum on the issue? Second, a YouTube cartoon of Kirchner switching from bikinis to dominatrix get ups? Because women are only sexual objects right? Read the rest of the article and blame away your anger and frustration in the comments!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

High Powered Law Career + Motherhood = Impossible?




Antigone reader Maayan gave me the heads up about a CBC Podcast ref25 (it is about halfway down the page and entitled The Sunday Editon: June 17) about the troubles that women face as high powered lawyers trying to balance motherhood and a career. What the podcast shows is how female lawyers are particularly caught between motherhood and their career ambitions because the nature of their job often necessitates that they choose between the two. This archaic attitude towards the work/life balance is particularly explored within the feature which I have (loosely) transcribed for you here:


These are great times for women in the law aren’t they? In the bad old days when future Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson decided she wanted to go to law school, the Dean at Dalhousie told her to go home and crochet. But over the last few decades women have been flooding into the profession. Four out of nine judges in Canada’s highest court are women. 55% of law school grad are women. At University of Montreal 67%. In 2006 every medal at U of T went to a women. Many of these grad walk right out of their law schools and into the countries greatest law firms.

But look behind these numbers and you’ll find another story. Some people call it the retention crisis. It turns out that life in the legal fastlane and motherhood are almost impossible to combine, so women are leaving the legal profession in droves.

After graduatijng from law school at the top of her class, Gina was hired by one of the most prestigious law firms. She wizzes up the ladder. She was made partner at an almost unheard of young age. She was a star. She was a star that is, until she became pregnant. And that was when her dream began to unravel. A few years after she gave birth to her second child, she became a statistic, one fo the many women lawyers hightailing it out of the big firms. No one fired her. She quit. But she felt that she had no choice.

“I was quite devastated. It was a very difficult thing for me to resign. The irony is that as I was going though this there was a huge initiative in these firms with people trying to address these issues. Right at the heart of it there was a disconnect between them wanting to address it and what was actually going on.

The bind begins for women before the baby is even born. “For men it is a good thing. A sign of a well-roundedness to be able to add fatherhood to your curriculum vitae. And usually the assumption is that there will be a wife and mother there. But I certainly talk to women who describe the most incredible responses from partners. One woman said that the first child they said congratulations, the second child not quite as warm a reception and THEN the third child came along it was outright hostility. She knew then that this was a no-no. She would not remain as a visible member of the firm.

As soon as you’re pregnant and approaching a maternity leave you’re not really the first choice for incoming work. Your workload can start to go down. That also affects your hours.

In law billable hours are everything. Lawyers are expected to log every six minutes a day. So much of a lawyer’s work depends on that. It decides on compensation and survival.

Says one woman: “If these firms understood what a mother does to make it through a working week. If they understood the marathon we ran, I think they would be shocked. I think it is demoralizing that after you run the marathon you are treated as not in the same camp as the superstars. I’m running a marathon and coming in third.”

That definitely a problem, but then we must ask – where are the male partners in this story? Where are the fathers-in-laws? Well... let's just say 'equality' in marriage is still not achieved... at least in this marriage:
My husband is an example in his firm of being a superstar. But we can’t do that, both of us cannot do that and have a semblance of a family life. There are lots of time when I am expressing my views and issues that face me as a woman and he takes the management angle or the male version of it and that frustrates me.

Says another interview subject:
This isn’t about women and I think as long as we continue to talk about it we’re only exasperating the problem. It’s not just the job of women to raise children in this society. It is talked about as a women’s issue and in all intents and purposes it is a women’s issue. Even today women struggle with it in a way that men are not. Why is it that men continue to find it easier to prioritize their careers over the family? This is a much, much larger issue about parenting and about children.

The context though in which these women’s desigions are made though is very interesting. They do not see their own decsicion as part of a system that continues to keep women down and wanat to make changes within it in order to create

Am I doing enough… not just for me… but am I doing enough for the women behind me

I wonder if being implicated in the issue would have career related implications. But what matters most is that I have two daughters and I care about what type of world they grow up in. So, on balance, I would rather speak.
Wow. Powerful stuff! I think its incredibly telling how these women are trying to balance their own desires with the needs of their families and yet they still have time to think about how their actions will help or hinder future women! They are indeed superstars running marathons!
What is perhaps particularly interesting is how many of them talked about how the law profession was particularly trying to retain female lawyers, even while they were having these very problems. This is obviously a severe disconnect!
So what are some tangible ways the law profession could change then to make things more accommodating to mothers and to fathers? Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Success! Rwandan Women in Politics Make Changes... for Women!




Check out this article about the changes that Rwandan female politicians have helped make. As you may or may not know... Rwanda has been a worldwide leader in female representation within their legislatures! Part of the reason for this was a quota system that was put into place after the Rwandan Genocides that specified that a certain percentage of its represetatives had to be women! Here's what these women have done:

Women hold nearly half the seats in Rwanda's parliament, the highest percentage of women lawmakers in the world. One result is legislation that increases the rights of women and children in a society that traditionally discouraged women from speaking out.

Mukandutiye explains that constitutional quotas have been exceeded in Parliament because Rwandan society and culture are changing; especially in the way women are viewed. "Gender equality is not deep rooted in our culture. Traditionally, women were supposed to be housewives. Their role was to take care of their husbands and produce children. It was a shame to appear in public and make your comments," she says. "Our current policy is that that has to change: women have to contribute to national income. That is among the priorities of our forum: to make women come out and show their talents and leave behind this behavior of depending on others and to build their spirit of self-reliance."

Mukandutiye and others say one factor in the recent empowerment of Rwandan women is the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Many women were left widowed and became the primary breadwinners for their families.

Rwanda's parliament building still bears the scars from that terrible time but the government and society are determined to move forward, including in the area of women. They make up 52 percent of Rwanda's population.

Member of Parliament Agnes Nyirabagenzi says having such a large percentage of women lawmakers enables Rwanda to put together laws that help women.


Agnes Nyirabagenzi:
She refers to a draft bill dealing with sexual violence against women as an example. "The idea was born by the Forum of Rwandan Women Parliamentarians. They observed that there was no law to punish people who commit sexual violence against women. We formulated that draft law, we brought it before the parliament, we sought support from our male colleagues, and we are sure that that law is going to be passed."

Other progressive legislation includes a law that enables women and girls to inherit property.

But women still have a ways to go, says Jane Mutoni, acting coordinator of the Forum for African Women Educationalists' Rwanda chapter.

She says that while the 30 percent quota has been achieved in higher levels of government, there is still a lack of women in local government, especially in rural areas. "We don't have a bigger percentage of women educated to take up those posts, because to go for the district level administration, you need a certain level of education. So even the few (women) we have can't go there. They lack self-confidence, assertiveness, and leadership qualities."

But for the time being, Rwandan women continue to make inroads in the country's highest seats of power.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pssst! Antigone Launched its 'Summer Subscription Drive'... pass it on...

So... Antigone Magazine launched it's Summer Subscription Drive this weekend with a goal of getting 500 subscribers to our print magazine by the end of September. As a subscriber, not only will you get to read a great magazine about women and politics - but you will also help support the creation of the Antigone Foundation, a non-profit organization that will work to encourage young women aged 10-30 to get involved in politics and issues that affect women!


So, please help out! Forward the below e-mail onto all your contacts, subscribe to the magazine yourself or offer your talents to help our dreams for gender parity come true! We need graphic designers, website designers, bloggers, advertising coordinators, event organizers, grant writers, people to send out targetted e-mails to politicians and women's groups... and just about anyone with a passion for women and politics! E-mail us (antigonemagazine@hotmail.com) and we'll put you to work!


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Dear Friend,

Antigone Magazine is a semi-annual, non-partisan magazine about women and politics written by young women in Canada. We are currently launching our Summer Subscription Drive and Contest with the hopes of getting 500 subscribers by the end of September! We ask you to read this e-mail, take a look at the attached copy of our magazine and support Antigone by buying a subscription and forwarding this e-mail on to women or men of all ages who you think would support the work we do!

Our primary goal is to encourage young women and men to see women as leaders within Canadian society, as well as, to encourage women to engage politically within their communities, their country and the world. We pride ourselves in being a magazine about women, politics, women in politics and the politics of being a woman and have interviewed women from all political parties, including former Prime Minister Kim Campbell and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

Antigone is seeking to expand to universities across Canada. Our first step in this endeavour was the creation of our blog http://www.antigonemagazine.blogspot.com/ where we hope to reach women and men across Canada and around the world. Our ultimate goal is to start a national foundation that will work to engage women aged 10-30 in politics and issues that affect women.

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- Receive a FREE subscription next year!


Refer the most subscribers between now and September 30th:
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Thank you in advance for your support and your help in empowering young women politically. Please send questions about subscriptions to antigonemagazine@hotmail.com or cheques (made out to Antigone Magazine) and the below form to:

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Please send in this info along with your subscription:

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

BlogHer Canada: Increase Women's Involvement in Politics!

Check out my post last week about BlogHer's inititive to get women bloggers in Canada to work for the next 12 months towards an issue that affects women!

We believe at Antigone Magazine that BlogHer Canada should concentrate on getting more women involved in politics! We feel that it is integrally important to speak about issues that affect women and to help empower women to use their own voices on their behalf. We believe that women’s involvement in politics makes a difference in the policies and legislation that are adopted.

We know this because we have interviewed female politicians in the past who have been the voice that made a difference. Whether it was Kim Campbell talking about being the only female voice at a table surrounded by pro-life men, or Dawn Black telling us about how she helped table the first stalking legislation, and create December 7th as a day of action and remembrance regarding violence against women, we know that having women in politics is a great indicator of the potential for advancement of legislation that is gender sensitive.

There are so many issues affecting women that politicians have the power to make a difference on. Whether it be instituting universal child care or ensuring that the Status of Women Canada continues to help implement programs that bring about women’s equality, just think of what would happen if women became interested and involved in politics from the grassroots upwards!

Part of the reasons why we found it important to start Antigone Magazine was to combat the dominant idea that women have already achieved equality. Many times in our society we hear about how women are already equal and already have equal power to men. Unfortunately, this is not the case in nearly every facet of society. In Canadian politics alone although women represent 52% of the population

 Currently only 20.8% of MPs are women.
 Up until the Manitobe provincial election, Prince Edward Island led in female representation with 25. 94% of its MLAs being women.
 Manitoba now has a 'groundbreaking' 31.5% of women in its halls of power.
 Nunavut and the Northwest Territories trail with only 10.5%.
 At 21.5%, British Columbia finds itself somewhere in the middle.

Around the world, on average, only 16% of elected politicians are women. So, obviously something must be done! Let’s make getting more women involved in politics the priority of BlogHer Canada this year and let’s set a good example for the next generation, for young girls and young boys, by showing them that politics are and should be a women’s world!

So, if you believe this as well and want BlogHer to focus on getting more women involved in politics, then stop by their blog and vote starting July 16th!

Sex and Metaphor

Reptiles and Angels--who knew sex had to be paradigmatic?

So it seems Mrs. Hampson of the Globe and Mail is at it again. This week's edition of archaic attitudes includes a jaunt into theories of pornography. While her article does not bear the achingly naive attitudes of her previous pontifications about male desire and the politics of sex, it does, once again, undo its own logic. (For more on this see my post on June 8th "The 'w'horrible truth.")

Hampson makes the argument, using of course metaphor, that there are two ways of approaching and conceiving of the place of porn in a relationship. The first being that porn is little more than a tangible representation of desire and I quote "just another person." This view claims that porn can actually help increase the intimacy of a relationship. Doubtful and frightening as this claim is, I will return to it later. The second much more palatable argument allows that porn is in fact a replacement for sex, and an addiction (for some).

What annoys me about this article is Hampson's dismissal or ignorance of the conditions and climate that mainstream pornography thrives in. Pornography relies on metaphors of conquest and domination (for more on this see Amanda's post on Sex as a Game), not on intimacy and mutual respect. Therefore, advocating for such porn (in all its forms and definitions) as an acceptable replacement for intimacy actually reinforces patriarchal attitudes about sex and marriage--instead of simply allowing the 'reptile' to come out once in a while, or to collaborate with what Hampson terms the 'angelic' part of sexual intimacy (mutual respect, where the reptile is lust).

While studies show that men are heavier users of porn than women are, distress over a partner's cybersex habit is not exclusive to women, Dr. Schneider says. "I began to doubt my masculinity," a man in one of her studies reported. "At first, we had more sex than ever as I desperately tried to prove myself. Then the sex with her made me sick - I'd get strong pictures in my head of what she did and lusted after, and I'd feel repelled and bad ... I used to see sex as a very intimate and loving thing."

This is the part I actually like about her article; it illuminates the fact that porn is not only disrespectful to women, but also to men. Mainstream pornography relies on tired stereotypes which reinforce traditional gender roles and 'conquest' models of sexuality. It also reduces both sexes to 'prophood' removing intimacy from the equation entirely. For me, this paragraph marks the beginning of an understanding of porn for what it truly is: demeaning to relationships of equality. However, Hampson doesn't quite catch on to her own evidence; She continues:

Which brings me back to angels and reptiles.

Pornography is not bad, but whenever I have watched it, I feel like one of those rats in a science lab. Sure, the sex corner of my brain can be made to light up. Give me stimulation, I get stimulated. Duh. It's like asking me to respond to an advertisement for Manolo Blahniks. Do I feel desire? Sure. But it's so uncreative. Someone is telling me what to think. That's what I call the reptile brain.

The angel brain, on the other hand, is that part of us I think of as beautifully human. It's where desire springs from higher human thought; where sexual intimacy happens through real connection, love, honesty, respect.

I can use my reptile brain, and I do. Lust is pretty basic. And hey, sometimes, that reptile is part angel, too. Human sexuality is a complex beast. But if I have a choice, and I do, I prefer to stick with the wings, with that which has a capacity for beauty and, if you're lucky, transcendence.

While Hampson has actually recognized the manipulation of stereotypes and gender roles performed by porn, she hasn't recognized her own attachment to these roles. That one feels 'desire' while watching games of domination and manipulation shows the extent to which such models of 'sex' and relationships are embedded in our collective cultural consciousness. Once again, here, sex is a paradigmatic model, where there is a winner and a loser; a lesser and a greater. Or, to translate this example into current theories of sex ed: a 'no' /abstainer and an STD. Hampson is indeed a rat in a science lab, as are we all when we respond to such formulations of sex and sexuality.


But it's not quite as simple as Manolo Blahniks if you ask me...(though I do agree with the connection between pain and beauty--but maybe that's because I can't wear stilettos...)

Thoughts?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sex Week Continues with... REAL DOLLS!





This one goes out to Feministing that first alerted me to this video. I figured that since we've been having discussions about sex for the last few posts, we might as well make this sex week! Next week is probably going to focus on women and the law! If anyone has any story ideas for that please pass them along!


Now, I'm not talking about the Pussycat Dolls either. Although perhaps that's another post. I'm talking about Real Dolls. Lifelike looking sex dolls that cost upwards of $6,000-12,000. Yes. That's right, sex toys that cost more than some cars. Well, you see these dolls are top of the line. Lifelike. And they've created an entire community of 'idollators' - men who 'enjoy' these dolls. Now the community ranges from those that simply see the dolls as masterbatory aids, to others who see these dolls more as 'girlfriends'. There are even sites that display provocative pictures of these dolls, dressed up and posed in different outfits.


Please watch the above documentory. Also, here is a great Salon article about the phenomenon for more background. The company's website is enough to frighten me for life!


I must say that it's quite creepy. And scary. And even sad (as they said at Feministing). But it is mostly frightening. The appeal fo the Real Doll is that one can customize it oneself. Choose its boobs, shape and lips and vaginal size. Get different vagina inserts and tongues. Change the dolls faces. The men say that they like the doll because she 'never complains' and things 'never get weird'. They say, according to the company that manufactures it that they are fifty year old men who order these dolls saying they will never be able to sleep with women who look like this and so they are buying and customizing their sex doll/mate.


I think what I find mostly disturbing is that unlike most sex dolls there is actually a community of owners who see them as companions. Some would rather be with a doll than a real woman... even if they could get one.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sex Shouldn't be Seen as a Game Where Some People 'Score'...

So, yesterday's post disturbed me and many other readers. I think the idea that one should coerce women into or demand sexual positions is so problematic and goes against my idea of what sex should be about. Number one: sex definitely should not be a game where the goal is to 'score' or get points from your friends. To me that is so incredibly perverse and disrespectful and dehumanizing to your partner. Yesterday's post thus reminded me of a FABULOUS post not to long ago by Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon.

Marcotte's post was about trying to understand why many of the threads about rape at Pandagon were overrun by men who tried to defend the rapist, or find a way to get him off based on a technicality (Ex. :but she invited him into her room late at night"). She then tries to explain where the attitude comes from that was evinced in Details and by some men (not all of course, I know many men who don't have this crazy and disturbed view of sexuality).



I’d say the two major metaphorical frames about sex would be the conservative-sexist one and the liberal-feminist one. The conservative-sexist metaphorical framework of sex is Sex As Conquest. In this frame, women’s bodies are objects and sex is about the struggle to conquer the pussy. Sometimes the struggle over the pussy is between men (ex: jokes about fathers guarding their daughters’ bodies from young male interlopers) and sometimes women themselves are tasked with defending the pussy from sex. If sexual intercourse happens, by definition, the man who gets to fuck the woman has won and the defender (father or woman herself) has lost. Sex happens when women surrender, in this model.


The liberal-feminist view of sex is that it’s not a war or a game, but more of a mutual collaboration, less like a battle and more like playing music. In this model, to be a sexual person is to be a musician and sex is playing your instrument. Sometimes you play by yourself, sometimes you get with others and jam, and sometimes you actually have a band that you have a long-term relationship with. There aren’t winners and losers, but there can be good and bad sex, just like there can be good and bad music.


Can anyone say frightening... and yet very familiar? As a university student that has been my problem with some of the men that I meet. When they approach me they are working not to get to know me or to engage in any kind of collaborative sexual undertaking... but to manipulate me in order to get into my pants. I am not really a full person to them... but a thing to have sex with. A pussy with legs. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with casual sex. But even casual sex can acknowlege that its participants are both human, equal partners and the desires and pleasures of both can be respected. Having sex shouldn't be about manipulation. Sex attained by manipulating or lying to someone (ex. when someone of either sex says "I really like you, I could see this going somewhere" when all they really want is to get laid and move on to the next person).



These separate models of what sex is explain why threads about rape turn into hellholes pretty quickly—sexists and feminists aren’t even speaking the same language, in a sense. The conservative-sexist model of rape is the same one used to define a foul in basketball. Basically, when sexual intercourse happens, the man team has scored a point against the woman team. Each team is allowed some strategies and disallowed others. In basketball, you’re supposed to snatch the ball from the other team, but you can’t cross certain lines or you’ll get a foul. This explains why rape trolls are so eager to find out what the “rules” are, i.e. when they are permitted to force sex. (”Is it rape if she’s drunk? What if she says yes and changes her mind? Is it okay to bully someone into it, so long as you don’t actually hold her down and force her? Are guilt trips okay?, etc.”)


If there’s some ambiguity when the referee calls a foul, your teammates (other men) are supposed to clamor to your defense, regardless of whether or not you actually fouled. If the foul is called, then the woman team scores a point (or a free throw in basketball, but you get the idea). The idea that it’s wrong to have sex with someone unless she really, really wants to do it makes about as much sense as saying that you should only be allowed to get the ball in basketball if the defense hands it to you.


On the liberal side, in contrast, the very idea that getting someone to play in your band or jam session who is reluctant or openly hostile makes no sense, thus the idea of “winning” in sex by getting a reluctant woman to submit is repulsive to feminists, period. Trying to figure out the rules of when coercion is acceptable and when it’s not makes no more sense than asking if it’s okay to make someone play in your band by holding their kids hostage, threatening to fire them, locking the doors so they can’t leave or simply laying a guilt trip on them. You can vaguely understand the desperation sometimes, if no one will ever play with you, but in the end, it makes no sense. Even if you can force someone to go through the motions, odds are the results are going to suck because they don’t even want to be there. Music is supposed to be fun, so if it’s not fun, it negates the entire point. Same with sex. All of that goes a long way to explaining phenomenon like banning the word “rape” from a rape trial and allowing the word “sex”. In the sexist view of sex, the distinction between rape and sex is one of degree. To feminists, the difference is of kind—if it’s rape, it’s not really sex, since sex is a collaborative effort and rape is a violent assault.


I wonder how you readers feel about Marcotte's views about the different ways sex is seen and approached. Reading them was an 'Aha' moment for me. It totally made sense and made me think about the ways in which some (not all) of the men that I meet and interact with see sex and how I've always had a problem with that. This also explains the ways in which men share their sexual encounters with their friends for 'points'. I always found this extremely disturbing that sex became less about a collaboration with the person they were sleeping with and more about a running game with their boys. I wrote an essay about how this was vaguely homoerotic - making sex 'Between Men' (using Eve Sedgwicks' Between Men, of course).

Anyways, this always infuriated me because as a woman, I did not see myself as a pussy that was waiting to score on. As such I demand respect from any man that I interact with sexually or otherwise and I outright refuse to engage sexually with any men who have this conception of sexuality. I would rather remain celibate for the rest of my fricking life than plan into a game which is so dehumanizing and manipulative for women!

Thoughts?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Details Magazine Highlights the Problems with How Sex is Conceived by Some Men

Where to start??? How about the headline: "Is it okay to demand anal sex"? I didn't know that it was okay to 'demand' any sex in any form. That being 'rape' after all. Or at least coercive. Let's get to the actual article then and see what precious jewels of wisdom it holds:


Phillip, an engineer in Chicago, says he and his friends request a ride in the back seat because it's a harder-to-reach goal than old-fashioned intercourse. "Once a guy has anal sex, he's put on a pedestal by his peers," he says. He claims he hasn't had much trouble getting women to agree to it. "I only had to persuade two girls. [I asked] 'Can I put it in your butt?' At first they were like, 'No, it will hurt.' Then time after time of having sex with them they finally said okay. It hurt them the first time, but after that they always said they enjoyed it—if not a little, then a lot."

For other men, the appeal of anal penetration is less the novelty—and the fact that it gives them a good story to tell over beers—and more the psychology. "For most of my friends, it's sort of a domination thing," says John (not his real name), 30, a writer in New York. "[It's] basically getting someone in a position where they're most vulnerable. My friends enjoy that and they tell their friends they did it. But it's not like girls are ready for it—it's something they do when they're really drunk."

"There's an erotic undercurrent about being in control of a situation," says Edward Ratush, a psychiatrist and sex therapist in New York. "It's a very ego-focused thing for the guy."



Let's see... the eroticization of domination.... coercion.... taking advantage of women who are intoxicated.... an ego focused thing. Hmmm. And here I thought sex was about the mutual pleasure of two consenting adults. Not, you know, about doing things that will impress your friends. I'm, of course, not suggesting that women do not enjoy anal sex. I know a bunch of female friends who really and truly do. But I also know a lot who do not and will not go there. Luckily they have boyfriends who aren't complete piggish assholes who actually see and respect them as people and not props to be used in sexual exploits.

Not that there's anything wrong with props in sexual exploits. By all means Details men... I implore you to buy a blowup doll to satisfy your back door lusts before 'demanding' the women you meet have anal sex with you or you know, coercing drunk women who probably don't have the proper mental acuity to responsibly consent to sex with you... since they're so intoxicated. And also, you might want to go get your psychologist to check out your desire for 'domination' and the fact that your ego and what your friends think is more important to you than an intimate relationship with a woman. More frightening talk:


So if you can't be certain whether the woman's enjoying herself or just submitting to peer pressure, and the act itself can be unpleasant, what's the motivation for demanding it? For Todd, so his friend says, it was about maintaining emotional distance. Albert says it's about enhancing the intimacy between two people. But the more plausible explanation is that it's about accessibility—and instant gratification. Now that anal sex has been propelled higher on the mainstream menu by a hypersexualized culture and the proliferation of porn (see Ass-Hole O Mio and the Anal Excursions series), some men can't help but order it. And some women feel the need to offer it.

A few years ago, Albert says, he was hosting a party at a New York nightclub. A girl in attendance began hitting on him aggressively, and after the party they headed uptown to her Columbia dorm. "I'll never forget it," he says. "She went down on me immediately, in the kitchen, then came up and said, 'I want you to fuck me in the ass.' That's some porno shit that most guys dream about." And when he told his friends about it later, he brought down the house.


Oh, mainstream pornography! The bane of my existence. Where men are taught to see women as props for their sexual desires and women are taught... to be props. This only renews my belief that we need far more alternative forms of pornography to show how hot mutual pleasure is in sexual activities and how sexy respect is for women whose bodies aren't just props.

BlogHers Unite!!!

I found a really cool new initiative this morning that I wanted to share with our readers. Blogher.com is going to be using womne bloggers to focus on a twelve month action plan to make a difference on an issue that affect women around the world. In Canada, they have partnered with MommyBlogsToronto to figure out what Canadian issue is important to women and which they should work towards. They are currently seeking suggestions for that issue to focus on, so I encourage you to send your imput along. I know I'm going to suggest the focus to be increasing women in politics!!!


MommyBlogsToronto (http://mommyblogstoronto.com ), the “better than a playdate” destination for Canadian parents, has joined forces with BlogHer (http://blogher.org ), the Web’s number one guide to women bloggers, to promote blogger action on political and social issues.

BlogHer recently announced a new global activism initiative called BlogHers Act (http://blogher.org/node/20421 ). This initiative will harness the energies, ingenuity and influence of women who blog to execute on a 12-month plan of action focused on a single global issue.MommyBlogsToronto is proud to announce plans to work in parallel with this initiative, leading a uniquely local charge to encourage Canadian bloggers and blog readers to take action on an issue of concern to Canadian women.

They are currently seeking input from readers to identify this issue and will announce the chosen direction at BlogHer Conference ‘07, taking place in Chicago on July 27-29.Catherine Connors, editor of MommyBlogsToronto, says, “we were beyond inspired by the passionate response to the BlogHers Act call to action, and began having discussions about how we could carry some of that inspiration into the Canadian blogHERsphere.

Our goal is to bring Canadian women bloggers together to take action on a Canadian issue. To effect real change."“We are pleased and proud that BlogHers Act has inspired the women of MommyBlogs Toronto to spearhead their own focused BlogHers Act project as part of the BlogHers Act initiative,” said BlogHer co-founders Elisa Camahort, Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone. “We expect BlogHers Act to tackle the causes the community develops, and we look forward to seeing what the community of Canadian bloggers sets out to accomplish.”

To learn more and join in the inspiring discussion visit MommyBlogsToronto at http://mommyblogstoronto.typepad.com/mommy_blogs_toronto/2007/07/we-talk-a-lot-a.html and BlogHer at http://blogher.org/node/21784



This is such a great idea! I think bloggers have the ability to unite together to create major changes and activism. This project is definitely cool! Write your thought in the comments about what issue you think they should focus on that affects women in Canada!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Last Frontier of Rank Discrimination

Hello Ladies (and Gentlemen who support us),


I suppose I should introduce myself. I'm not a regular blogger for the magazine (just a temp really) but I'm one of the co-founders of Willa (The Women in Legislative Leadership Association). I'm a business student at Simon Fraser University, entering my fourth year. I'm planning to major in International Business and probably Marketing, Finance or both.


I've been in Taipei on exchange for the past four months and I'm heading to Europe to visit family and do a short internship, in about a week. So, I've been busy, as I'm sure you all have been. Just wanted to pop in and support Amanda and her team's stellar work on this blog and the magazine.

I have a quote from a great article I think you all should read if you get a chance. Thanks to Ayesha Laher, who sent me the article regarding our recent discussions of the last appointment which sealed the UBC Executives (President and VPs of Everything) as all-male.


From: The Last Frontier of Rank Discrimination (The Province July 7th 2007)


There are still five times more men in Parliament than women.

Women working full-time make 71 cents for every $1 men earn. Two-thirds still work in pink ghettos of traditional "women's work" such as health care, clerical and administrative jobs. Little more than a third of all managers are women.

Women are poor in disproportionate numbers with 38 per cent of single mothers living below the poverty line compared to only 17 per cent of single fathers.

Women are more likely to be victims of violence than men. One in every 10 Canadian women reports having been stalked in the past 10 years.

Women are many more times more likely to be forced, enticed or trafficked into prostitution and, once there, many times more likely to be charged, even though the Criminal Code offense of communicating for the purposes of prostitution was aimed at punishing the buyers and not just the sellers.

If any racial or ethnic minority had been subjected to anything near the discrimination women have suffered and continue to be subjected to, Canada would be an international pariah.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Female MPs have Different Priorities

I always hate to say that female politicians govern or make decisions 'essentially' different than men. This is because I think that all women are so different in and of themselves, that it's problematic to lump them into one category. BUT... female politicians do have different priorities as this article shows from AllAfrica.com.


The society should expect the involvement of women parliamentarians to lead to different policy and decision making. On the assumption that they can act from a different perspective from that of their male counterparts is reality.

An alternative perspective in an exclusive survey of women parliamentarians from 65 countries conducted by Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) in 1999, the respondents consistently portrayed women as having different priorities from men.


Four out of every five respondents believed that women held conceptually different ideas about society and politics. More than 90 percent agreed that women's greater participation would bring about change, and almost 9out of 10 considered that women's participation in political process significantly changed political out comes.


Three reasons as to why women politicians are likely to approach politics differently: women's motivation for joining politics is often different from that of their men.

In the IPU survey 40 percent of the respondents stated that they had joined politics as a result of their interests in social work, and 34 percent through non governmental organizations as opposed to the "conventional" path of party politics often embraced by men.

This finding accurately reflects a well established tendency among women to engage in civil society as a way of promoting projects that support house holds survival, and to focus their energies at the local level.



The ways in which women are socialized are also a crucial aspect of why women's priorities are different. Women are raised to have different skills and priorities than men. These attitudes are often transfered into their political work and beliefs. The article deals well with these issues and also with reasons why women worldwide do not get involved or run for political office, so click over and check it out!

Women are often exposed to different patterns of socialization and have different life experiences than men, and are likely to bring their experiences and expertise to bear on their political decisions.

While important changes have been taking place over the past few decades, in most countries women still bear the main care giving responsibilities for their families, including children and the elderly.

Women are more likely to see themselves as representatives of women. A study of legislators from the United States found out that women feel a special responsibility to represent other women and consider themselves more capable of representing their interests.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Women's Groups Layoff Staff or Close their Doors...

This is just terrible news! It appears that because of the new funding criteria for grants from the Status of Women Canada, organizations that have been mainstays in the women's community and great advocates for women's issues, are looking down the barrel of their own demise. This article comes off the Liberal Party's website, but despite its partisan nature, I think it articulates a crucial issue facing women's groups right now.


As feared by many women across Canada, the anti-women ideology of the current Conservative government is forcing more women's groups to lay off staff and close their doors," said Ms. Minna.

The most recent victim of the Conservatives' anti-women agenda is the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), which had to lay off three out of five staff because the organization no longer qualifies for funding from Status of Women Canada.

The Conservative government made changes to the rules that prevent any group that advocates for women's equality from receiving funding. "Minister for Status of Women Bev Oda uses smoke and mirrors to try and keep from Canadians what is really happening," said Ms. Minna. "In addition to denying funding to women's groups, 12 of 16 Status of Women's regional offices have been closed, a move that particularly isolates women in rural areas."

Time is running out for many other organizations. For example, the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL) and the Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA) are deeply concerned for the future well-being of their organizations. Ms. Minna said this story is becoming far too common among women's groups.

"The Conservative government is trying to silence the voices of Canadian women when there is so much work still to do to for them to reach true social, political, economic, cultural, and legal equality in Canada," she said.



For those who might not be aware, all of the groups mentioned in the article are groups that have been crucial at securing women's equality in the past. Without them we would not have many of the priveleges that we as women take for granted.

I think it is such a tragedy to see these groups close their doors or not be able to run their programs properly because of lack of funding. I encourage you all to write your MP about this issue!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Boomer Women and Retirement!

Since I've already started on the retirement theme today, I might as well continue with this article about boomer women retiring. Well, it looks like there will be a huge wave of boomer women retiring the next few years and now the question is, what will they do with all their time and how can they best plan to enjoy their retirement years and to remain financially secure. May I suggest that they use their free time to become involved in organizations like Antigone? I"m kidding... I must get in that plug for our dear magazine! Here's the story:

Boomer women are a special breed.

They were the first generation of women to enter the workforce in massive numbers. They also broke the entry barriers, rose through the ranks and some even broke through the glass ceiling to enter management positions and boardrooms across the nation.

Now they're the first women to retire in large numbers -- in many cases, leading the charge. And because female boomers are unique, their retirement issues are new and different from those of their male counterparts and those of working women from earlier generations.

Dr. Margret Hovanec and Elizabeth Shilton have addressed those issues in their book Redefining Retirement -- New Realities for Boomer Women. They've also detailed practical strategies for creating a healthy, dynamic and secure future for female boomer retirees.

The book, published by Second Story Press, goes beyond the traditional financial content of most retirement books, addressing four key ingredients to assuring a full life, including: money, work, physical health and relationships/emotional health.




After all the barriers that this generation of women have broke and all the glass ceilings that this generation has smashed, I can only say that they definitely deserve to enjoy their retirement years, no matter how they end up spending them! As young women we should always remember to honour these amazing trailblaizing women that went before us and carved room for the paths that we are currently taking! I'm glad that there is a book addressing their particular retirement needs!

More Women Have Pension Funds!!

This is very good news. Okay, so this might not seem like the most sexy and interesting post I've ever written... but I assure you it is. After all, there is nothing as unsexy as living into your old age in poverty... which many women now do based on their lack of pensions. Says the Vancouver Sun:

More women in the workforce are being covered by registered pension plans, according to data released by Statistics Canada.


But total membership in Canada's 15,130 active plans remains virtually unchanged with about four out of every 10 workers participating.

StatsCan said the number of men belonging to a registered plan remained unchanged at 2.98 million, while the number of women increased 0.7 per cent to just over 2.71 million



This is good news that women are increasing their participation in pension plans. Although Antigone is aimed at young women, it is very important that we too think about and plan for retirement and the sooner we start the better!