Friday, February 29, 2008

Mira Hall's Reports from the UNCSW! Part 2

2nd Day at the UN!

As someone who is the end product of being “the eldest sibling” in my family, combined with a long time in restaurant management who has done facilitation in groups, I find it very hard to refrain from intervening when something obviously needs help. This brings me to the poor male who was designated to facilitate a working group to come up with a recommendation for government action.

First of all, a major bone of contention throughout the workshops was the number of men who were designated as facilitators. In any other circumstance, I wouldn’t have notice, and perhaps thought that the more hard-line feminists were being petty. *HOWEVER* the status of women, internationally, is dedicated to achieving women’s equality in a male dominated world. The whole thing is an act of women’s empowerment, to encourage women to achieve equality in all aspects of life, particularly in full economic participation and in political leadership. Facilitation is a very good way for a woman to practice empowerment. At any rate, I’m getting off track, so back to the story, there was this poor man facing a room full of UNCSW delegates who clearly felt that he had no business being there to facilitate a conversation about violence against women.

Beyond the obvious challenges, the man was fairly good natured and wanted to direct the conversation in productive ways, but he unfortunately didn’t guide the conversation in a way that made it clear to the participants what we were supposed to be doing, or what aspects we were supposed to be talking about, or what end result we were looking for.

Dangerously late into the workshop, we finally got to the point of democratically trying to construct the language of the recommendation. The guy was just repeating our suggestions back to us and pointing out when he thought we were being irrelevant. So I threw up my hand and suggested (innocently enough) that he should maybe write the draft phrase on the gigantic blackboard behind him, at which point he invited me to come up and do just that, and then the former facilitator/manager/big sister came out and *I CO-FACILITATED FOR THE UN NGO ORIENTATION WORKSHOP!!!!*

I totally commandeered the facilitation. It was innocent enough in its formation, however I just couldn’t help myself and I’m so happy that I couldn’t. A lot of participants came up to me after and thanked me, and praised the job that I did. The other FAFIA delegates even heard positive buzz about the incident. So what happened to the poor guy set up for failure? We sat together during the group presentations of the recommendations, and he also thanked me for my help.

So my second day has been elating. Beyond my shining moment in the workshops, the orientation for NGOs was full of great speakers with incredible observations about the roles of academia, governments, and people embroiled on the battle grounds. There has also been great discussions surrounding the role of education in ensuring that children grow up embracing the charter of human rights. (that subject could spin me off onto a long and probably boring ramble about my favorite philosopher, Antonio Gramsci) and to finish off the day I had a final orientation meeting with FAFIA to talk about my obligations beyond being here.

All the delegates have to have submitted a draft community action plan to be reported in final form by June 20th, and at that point we can submit the action plans to apply for funding of full implementation of the plans. I’m hoping to base my action plan on addressing the structural barriers that prevent women from full integration and participation in economic life. The Status of Women is already doing a great practical job of this in their Women’s training in Oil and Gas program. I will make a 2nd draft version after I return to Yellowknife and have time to consult with the wonderful people who have acted in a mentorship capacity for me (whether they be aware of it or not.) but in essence I would like to model a micro/macro basic understanding of economics workshops for women and girls based on the Health children, Healthy Communities manual developed by the United Nations Association of Canada.

A woman that is also with the FAFIA delegation has already done such a thing and has tools that I can use. She has already used a version in Northern Manitoba with the aboriginal populations there, and has had tremendous success.

I’m very excited because I believe that the structure of work in the Territories is a large component of our exceptionally high rates of violence against women. I know that I myself have had to seriously weigh the pros of being homeless with two children, against the cons of remaining in an abusive relationship. Thankfully I had great support to come out of that situation and am thriving now, however, for many women in the north (especially if they have children) are economically dependant on romantic partners. Our income support really does not provide enough to recipients in order to maintain their basic needs.

Again, my head is spinning with information and personal stories from well established activists from all over the world, so I’m sure that my writing is going off in a million directions with every train of thought that is currently cruising through my synapses!

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my previous note. I am hoping to update daily, and when I return there will be pictures available. I am hoping to meet with anyone who is interested to talk about what I’ve learned here and how I envision the economic awareness workshops with full and welcoming hopes that anyone who is interested helps me to shape how these workshops will play out.

In closing, I have been actively networking and talking about the socio-economic impacts of the Diamond Mines on the population that I work with, I have spoken about the lack of infrastructure in the Territory, and how it prevents our own mobility, as well as other peoples investments. I’ve talked about our challenges around University participation of residents from outlying communities. And I have talked a lot about my view of the barriers to the participation of women in meaningful employment at livable wages. I’ve also gotten into heated debates about the importance of “cultural relevance” being included in recommendations (ie: We believe that governments, national and local, should teach people in a culturally relevant way, from the earliest stages in life onward, that violence against women is unacceptable.) The debate mainly happened between me, CANADAIAN! And a woman from Jordan, and another woman from Halifax against an American woman and an English woman. They argued that some governments could use “cultural relevance” to excuse violence, while we were arguing that as the statement was written it couldn’t, that cultural relevance was in the way that the unacceptability was taught.

In the end it was a great exercise in how difficult it is for government to come to agreements on legislation, let alone draft them in a democratic and inclusive way.

Good Night!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mira Hall's Reports from the UNCSW!

I am such a terrible blogger! Especially since aside from my participation over the next two weeks at the UN's Commission on the Status of Women Meeting, I am also finishing up my first review for the Vancouver Sun (to be published this Saturday!). This leaves me with very little time to keep everyone informed on what's going on here at the UNCSW.

Luckily, my roommate, and friend (also my cuddlebunny, but that's another story) Mira Hall from the Northwest Territories has been extensively documenting her experience and has agreed to let me post it here. I will be writing a big post over the weekend to catch you up on everything I have experience, including my interview with Gloria Steinem but in the meantime, I think Mira's posts will fill you in on what's been going on! So here it is starting with Day One!

I have now arrived in New York. It has been a Harrowing journey, filled with tears, of joy, frustration anger, and from the pungent scent of myself after 48hours in the same clothes…. Traveling.

So, *last* Friday, the news came down that the Status of Women Canada had indeed provided the funding to send me to the United Nations for the 52nd Commission on the Status of Women. This news filled me with absolute excitement, mixed with absolute panic, after all, I didn’t even have a passport.

I immediately called the Inuvik Department of Health and let them know the deal, I NEEDED to get to Calgary with my birth certificate *and* marriage certificate ASAP in order to get a passport in order to get to the commission on time. I am karmically and emotionally indebted to Inuvik. They pulled the amazing and got the certificates printed that DAY. I am so impressed! I’m totally going to write the minister when I get home because they were so amazing and fast!

Then I needed to get the ID to Yellowknife fast, so I thought of everyone I could that lives in Inuvik that could physically go pick it up and bring it to the airport, but to no avail, so as a last resort I phoned Canadian North Cargo, who were also amazing, and even drove back after there was some confusion at the Vital statistics office.

Between IHD, and Canadian North Cargo I was overjoyed at how quickly (as in within a few hours) I had my ID. So the next step was to get to Calgary, I flew out early Wednesday morning, the day after the Senate Hearing, my brother picked me up and took me directly to the passport office, giving me a day to wait and pray to God that everything would come through.

Thankfully, Friday morning, just hours before my flight to Ottawa, on route to New York, I picked up my freshly issued passport, and busted my ass to get to the airport for my flight. I am on 48 hours of wakefulness and am currently and successfully in New York, thanks to the hard work and co-operation of a multitude of forces and have completed a successful and impressive first day!

The delegation that I am with is an impressive (a very impressive) group of women aged 22-67. The women that I am here with are entrenched in all levels of feminist reform in Canada. I drank wine today with an elderly Acadian woman who has worked on gender based economic development strategies everywhere from the Maritimes to South Korea, I’m working with another who has a PHD in economics and well over thirty years spent entrenched in advocating sustainable economic development *even the Northwest Territories!* I am also here with the publisher of “Antigone” magazine, a grassroots publication for political action, and the executive director of one of the most influential women’s shelter in downtown Toronto.

I am humbled by their presence and soaking up their every words as they speak and engage in economic and political analysis of the state of our country, and the other countries represented here. This is not benign philosophical discussion; this is the grassroots for action. This is the pre-negotiation strategizing. This is where we are preparing to determine what we are going stress during the commission. It is powerful and productive, engaging, and wonderful. I am so thankful to the Status of Women, and to FAFIA for providing me the opportunity to be here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WAGS at UBC: International Women's Day Event

WOMEN'S & GENDER STUDIES AT UBC: 35 YEARS OF CREATING COMMUNITIES OF
LEARNERS

HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

March 7, 2008, 3:00-6:00

Graduate Student Centre Penthouse, UBC

3:00-3:30 Introductions - Wendy Frisby (Chair, Women's & Gender Studies)
& Sheanthi DeSilva (President, Women's and Gender Studies Undergraduate
Association)

3:30 - 4:30 Undergraduate Women's and Gender Studies Research Panel -
Katherine Lyon, Saadia Rai, Amina Rai and Sheelah Ziajka

4:30-5:15 - Keynote Speaker - Dr. Yvonne Brown, Personal Reflections of
a Mother Teacher on Gender, "Race," Sexual Orientation, Disability and
Indigenous Struggles for Equality at UBC 1977-2007

5:15-6:00 - Reception & Retirement Celebration for Dr. Yvonne Brown -
Enjoy delicious food and help celebrate Dr. Yvonne Brown's retirement.



Children Welcome

Sunday, February 24, 2008

US Bars Iran from Attending UN's Commission on the Status of Women



Not a terribly big surprise, but it is still terrible. It appears that the US feels the necessity to bar an official delegation of women and government officials from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women's meeting in New York (see US bars Iran from attending UN event' )

A senior Iranian legislator says Washington has stonewalled attempts for experts to attend an international UN event in New York. Head of the Iranian Parliament's Committee for Women and Family Affairs Fatemeh Alia said a delegation has been primed to take part in the 52nd UN Commission on the Status of Women to be held in New York.

The US government, however, has failed to fulfill its duty to issue visas for the Iranian officials, she added. "This is not the first time Washington has resorted to stonewall tactics by refusing the issuance of visas for an Iranian delegation," Alia explained, adding that the US government had also prevented a visit by the head of the Iranian Parliament last year.

"This shows their tyrannical attitude," she maintained. The 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women will be held at the United Nations headquarters in New York from February 25th to March 7th.

Blogging from the UN's Commision on the Status of Women 52nd Meeting...



So... I might not have mentioned anything to Antigone's loyal readers, but I was invited by FAFIA (the Canadian Alliance for International Action) to take part in its delegation to the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women's 52nd meeting focusing on the priority theme of 'Financing for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women'. I will thus be reporting from the UN's headquarters in New York over the next two weeks!


Today, we had Assistant Secretary-General Ms. Rachel Mayanja talk to us about the work that the UN has been doing through the Commission, through CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) and through Unifem. As the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Mayanja posed the question that will be addressed at the Commission: "How can we close the gap between the policies the UN has adopted and what happens on the ground?"


The highlight of the day though was the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak! As an English student, I have read a lot of her theoretical work. It was great to hear from her and she had some interesting things to say... including:

As we quite correctly push for a higher body count of women in politics, we must understand that gender equality does not automatically follow. The oppressed become sub-oppressors very quickly.

Anyways, I hope you will enjoy the highlights! It should be an amazing experience!

Demystifying Intersex Seminar and Videos

The Centre & Transgender Health Program/VCH present


Demystifying Intersex

An educational seminar on ‘intersex’
- open to lesbian, gay, bi, trans folks & allies


Includes screening of two videos:

‘One in 2000’, by Ajae Clearway
‘Is it a Boy or a Girl?’, by Phyllis Ward.

plus personal sharing by two local intersex folks




Wednesday, March 5th
6:30 – 9:00pm

200 – 1651 Commercial Dr. (at 1st Ave)
North Community Health Unit (accessible venue*)

Info: 604 684-5307

Free, registration not required

Please arrive on time for 6:30 start
*Elevator going up shuts at 7pm - no problem leaving the building by elevator

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dreams for Women - Week Four!








This was submitted with the following message attached...

And don't forget to check out our new video:


Antigone Magazine is launching a Feminist Postcard art project and fundraiser but instead of asking what your secrets are, we want to know what your Dreams for Women are.What are your own dreams for yourself, your friends, your sisters, your daughters? Paint, draw, write, sketch or decoupage your dreams on a postcard and send it to the address below


Antigone Magazine

C/O WILLA UBC

Box 61-6138 SUB Boulevard

Vancouver, BC, Canada

V6T 1Z1

OR


With your postcard submission, we ask that you make a donation (if you can!) to Antigone Magazine for anywhere from $1 to $10. You can send your money along with your postcard or donate on our blog: http://www.antigonemagazine.blogspot.com/ . But don't worry... if you don't have the money, just send along the postcard and tell people about this program. We will be posting postcards every second Saturday starting in January on the blog!


What is Antigone Magazine? We're a grassroots national magazine that works to encourage young women to get involved in politics in Canada. We work to empower young women to engage politically and civically and to actively take part in leadership roles.

We are raising the money in order to help launch the Antigone Foundation, a national foundation that will encourage young women aged 10-30 to get politically and civically engaged. Help support Antigone as we help to make the dreams of young women come true!We want submissions from all over the world - so forward this on! Post it on your blog! Or link to it!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The gender gap in politics


Today's editorial in the Vancouver Sun features two noteworthy articles focusing on the gender gap in politics. Both Barbara Yaffe and Virginia Greene reminded me of an interview with Rosemary Speirs of Equal Voice, which I recently transcribed (and will be featured in our upcoming issue!). To get women into politics requires a flexbility from not only women who choose to become involved, but also from the realm of politics itself. Whether or not women have to be flexible is the question.

Greene recognizes that though the gender gap in the general Canadian workforce is closing, politics are still male-dominated and not a career choice for women, largely due to the barriers and 'differences' women face (for example, their role as primary caregivers versus long hours commuting to and from Ottawa). This is not to say, as Greene puts it, that women have to 'act' or adopt male qualities to succeed politically, but that
any future debate about how to increase the participation of women in politics must go beyond quota-setting and talk about the things that really keep women from moving in greater numbers in this direction.
Yaffe further notes that in a time when a woman is a leading contender for the US presidency and more and more women are voters, getting women into politics is still a "battle." Besides changing our societal attitudes towards and acceptance of female politicians, more formal initiatives are needed on behalf of government to ensure an equality of gender representation in the political arena.

Equal Voice argues, quite reasonably,
that it's healthy for young females to have political role models. More equality on legislative benches also translates into more representative government.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Powerful Voices: The Struggle for Women's Rights in the 21st Century

A symposium for Women's Equality & Human Rights to Celebrate International Women's Day. Hosted by Oxfam and West Coast Leaf Women's Legal Education and Action Fund.

March 1, 2008
10am-5pm
SFU Harbour Centre

Tickets
General Admission $20
Seniors/students $10
Lunch and Childcare will be provided

Ignore your rights...and they'll go away

In 1971, Sarah Weddington, along with Linda Coffee, argued the winning side of the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. Admist the backdrop of a US Supreme Court that is currently divided on the issue of abortion, Sarah recognizes and fears that Roe vs. Wade could be easily overturned. According to the Vancouver Sun, she always wonders whether younger women have any idea of what life was like back "then" and feels there is still a need for the pro-choice movement and the protection of women's rights. Indeed, I'm sure we all agree. Come listen to Sarah share her experience and insight at the Orpheum Theatre tonight!

Sarah Weddington
Unique Lives & Experiences
Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver BC
TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets $31 to $70 at Ticketmaster

URGENT URGENT Oppose Bill C-484

Please sign our Petition! / Veuillez signer notre pétition!

http://www.gopetition.com/online/16893.html

Oppose Bill C-484, the "Unborn Victims of Crime Act"
Rejeter la « Loi sur les enfants non encore nés victimes d’actes criminels » (Bill C-484)

A private member's bill called The "Unborn Victims of Crime Act" (C-484) has been introduced by Conservative MP Ken Epp (Edmonton Sherwood Park). It had its first hour of debate in Parliament on December 13, and is projected to come up for its second hour of debate on February 29, with a vote on March 5.

The text of the bill is here: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=3127600&file=4.

The bill would amend the Criminal Code to allow separate homicide charges to be laid in the death of a fetus when a pregnant woman is attacked. If passed, this bill would be an unconstitutional infringement on women’s rights, and would likely result in harms against pregnant women. It is a key step towards re-criminalizing abortion, but it could also criminalize pregnant women for behaviours perceived to harm their fetuses.

For more background info, see here: http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/action/unborn-victims-act.htm

Thank you! / Merci!

Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
Vancouver, BC
www.arcc-cdac.ca

Send questions to :joycearthur@shaw.ca

Beyond Pink

Beyond Pink 2008 - Personal & Professional Development Conference
Starts: Mar 28, 2008 at 9:00 AM
Ends: Mar 30, 2008 at 11:00 AM
Location: Sheraton Wall Centre


Info: This is your official invitation to Beyond Pink 2008, the premier conference of the Young Women in Business (YWiB) Network!

Beyond Pink is the first conference of its kind in Western Canada and will act as the launch event for YWiB in March 2008. This two-day event will focus on personal and professional development, and feature an interactive workshop series, extraordinary speaker and panel sessions, the Connect! Women in Business Tradeshow, a mentorship lunch, and a celebratory gala dinner. Our goal is that delegates will walk away from the weekend inspired with the knowledge, will, and skill to pursue their passions. Beyond Pink will appeal to ambitious, positive, and forward-thinking young women from all backgrounds and industries.

Register at ywib.ca.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dreams for Women... THE MOVIE!!!

The brilliant Kelly Lau, the project coordinator for Dreams for Women has made a fabulous video to promote the program. I thought I would share it with you! Distribute it widely!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New York Times... Why Women Politicians are Seen Differently

Yes, I know! We here at Antigone have sort of sucked the last few weeks in regards to posting. That's because we've been working on some cool things that hopefully will come to pass in the next few weeks. But I thought that I should definitely blog today... especially since Kristof wrote an interesting article in the New York Times about discrimination that still faces women in politics. The most interesting part was where he cited studies that show how women and men are evaluated differently.

In one common experiment, the “Goldberg paradigm,” people are asked to evaluate a particular article or speech, supposedly by a man. Others are asked to evaluate the identical presentation, but from a woman. Typically, in countries all over the world, the very same words are rated higher coming from a man.

In particular, one lesson from this research is that promoting their own successes is a helpful strategy for ambitious men. But experiments have demonstrated that when women highlight their accomplishments, that’s a turn-off. And women seem even more offended by self-promoting females than men are.

This creates a huge challenge for ambitious women in politics or business: If they’re self-effacing, people find them unimpressive, but if they talk up their accomplishments, they come across as pushy braggarts.

The broader conundrum is that for women, but not for men, there is a tradeoff in qualities associated with top leadership. A woman can be perceived as competent or as likable, but not both.

“It’s an uphill struggle, to be judged both a good woman and a good leader,” said Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Business School professor who is an expert on women in leadership. Professor Kanter added that a pioneer in a man’s world, like Hillary Rodham Clinton, also faces scrutiny on many more dimensions than a man — witness the public debate about Mrs. Clinton’s allegedly “thick ankles,” or the headlines last year about cleavage.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dreams for Women - Week Three









Antigone Magazine is launching a Feminist Postcard art project and fundraiser but instead of asking what your secrets are, we want to know what your Dreams for Women are.
What are your own dreams for yourself, your friends, your sisters, your daughters? Paint, draw, write, sketch or decoupage your dreams on a postcard and send it to the address below

Antigone Magazine
C/O WILLA UBC
Box 61-6138 SUB Boulevard
Vancouver, BC, Canada
V6T 1Z1
OR
antigonemagazine@hotmail.com

With your postcard submission, we ask that you make a donation (if you can!) to Antigone Magazine for anywhere from $1 to $10. You can send your money along with your postcard or donate on our blog: http://www.antigonemagazine.blogspot.com/ . But don't worry... if you don't have the money, just send along the postcard and tell people about this program. We will be posting postcards every second Saturday starting in January on the blog!What is Antigone Magazine? We're a grassroots national magazine that works to encourage young women to get involved in politics in Canada. We work to empower young women to engage politically and civically and to actively take part in leadership roles.
We are raising the money in order to help launch the Antigone Foundation, a national foundation that will encourage young women aged 10-30 to get politically and civically engaged. Help support Antigone as we help to make the dreams of young women come true!We want submissions from all over the world - so forward this on! Post it on your blog! Or link to it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Women's Spirituality Celebration

Nurturing Spirit: Self~Community~Earth

Friday February 29th & Saturday March 1st

WSC Mission:

The WSC is organized, facilitated, and attended by women of all ages with diverse spiritual/religious lineages. Our intention is to nourish body, spirit, emotions and mind through contemplative and embodied spiritual practices, dialogue and the arts. Our desire is to generate dialogue, learn from one another and celebrate together to increase multi-faith awareness in an atmosphere of acceptance, compassion and respect.

Event Location : Canadian Memorial Church
Center for Peace
1825 West 16th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6J 2M3


Healing Touch/Energy Healing sessions will be offered during all break times. Come early to book.

WSC Sponsors: The Rag Magazine, St Georges Parish, Stongs, Starbucks, Terra Breads
A canvas Labyrinth (classical-chakra-vyuha type) and Meditation space will be available during the event.

Contact: ingrose@hotmail.com

Conservatives Sneak 'Equality' Back into Status of Women Mandate... or at least pretend to...

It seems like the Conservative government is waffling on 'equality'. First, they take the word out of the Status of Women Canada's mandate and now they've quietly put it back in. Of course, they didn't change any of their altered funding requirements for their women's programs. Here are excerpts from the press release from the Liberal Party about the incident:


“Ms. Verner had the word ‘equality’ quietly added to the overarching goals of the Women’s Program and tried to suggest at committee that it applied across the board. When Liberal members asked the Minister to clarify why the so-called change is not in the funding guidelines section on the department’s website, she dodged questions. Later departmental officials confirmed that adding the word ‘equality’ was only symbolic and that ‘nothing had changed’.”

In September 2006, the Conservative government changed the terms and conditions of the Women’s Program at Status of Women Canada. The changes included removing “equality” from its mandate, which meant that women’s groups and organizations that do advocacy work were no longer eligible for federal funding as they had been in the past. The Women’s Program at Status of Women is the main vehicle to fund projects to promote equality for all women.

[...]

“This is insulting to Canadian women, but it’s more proof that the Conservative government is only prepared to pay lip service to the importance of equality and what it means to the Women’s Program and women’s groups,” said Ms. Minna.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Clinton edges out Obama

Thanks in large part to an impressive turnout of female voters, Hillary Clinton eeked out a slight victory over Barack Obama on Super Tuesday.

Edging close to midnight pacific time, CNN projected a win in California, the delegate rich state, for Clinton.

Overall, "Hillary Clinton carried white voters over Barack Obama, 52 to 43 percent. Obama carried black voters 82 to 16 percent. Clinton won Latinos 61 to 37 percent, and Clinton carried Asians 68 percent to 30 percent," reports CNN.

Women made up a majority of voters overall on the biggest day of presidential primaries in the U.S.-- about 57 to 58%.

"According to early exit polls—and they're early, so the precise numbers could change—she is up among women in each of these states, and others, by at least 15 points," reports Slate magazine.

But the competition is tight and an epic battle in this landmark election year is looming.

It's not over yet," Clinton, who would become the country's first female president, told supporters Tuesday night in New York," according to Canwest news service. "Tonight, in record numbers, you voted not just to make history, but to remake America."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Learning Challenges for the "other" Student





It's not easy being a Muslim female university student in the Arts and Social Sciences these days. I speak of those classes that among other things study the "other" through cultural productions from "there", circulated to North American markets, through various mediums such as, film.


So there I found myself,once again, sitting in a classroom, looking all Muslim, being a Muslim in Canada - one thinks it gets easier after twelve years- yet I sit there still, ready to watch Deepa Mehta's film "Fire" along with my classmates ... and, I was having some kind of reaction to the film. I wasn't happy.


I found myself having to work through yet another sign of resistance to something ... it's always some thing ... never clear, never named ... which happens so many times during my education, this time because of what I was seeing in this film.


So, to answer my body's "bat signal", and in order to do something about my negative feelings -- what were they? why? for what? -- I wrote an email to my professor. Wanna read it?


_____Dear P:


Here's what I was talking about earlier, your comments made me think.


After the film "Fire", during the discussion, you mention the columnist from " The Globe" who is against the flows of immigrants to Canada, because she fears these issues of "thirld world peoples" will "infiltrate" into Canada. You argue that the Indian family in the film is liberal minded, so one can imagine the issues of the film happening to an Indian family in Canada, or a white family or South Asian in which a family member "comes out of the closet".


Here's where I flipped out. Perhaps I misunderstood you, but what angered me is that, yes, these isssues of gender, sexuality, honor, religion, belonging, displacement --- can be transnational, global, and studied or imagined elsewhere, outside of India, but, there remain the individual gender issues at hand: what happens when an ideology like Lesbianism comes out in an Indian community anywhere in the world, and what counter-forces are created in turn on the rest of the women in that community?

As a woman, Muslim, and "thirld world" by enthnicity, I react when my professor opts to speak of the "political" side of this film, like its issues with colonialism, and doesn't even mention such a controversial and highly important thing such as the tension between women who "come out" and those who don't -- both belonging to the same category of Muslim Indian women living in India under the same sky, and are represented in film for audiences out here in Canada, including the academic classrooms. How do we come to understand women living under the same national, religious and state rules, and how do we uphold their diversity and complexity without lumping them all under one category of "poor Indian women oppressed by patriarchy"? --- and even worst, how does a Muslim student deal with it, when the question of gender and religion is not even raised in class after watching a film that is so obviously about gender and religion? How shitty a situation it is, when the film is discussed just from the angle of colonialism in India!


I was even expecting something along the lines of a discussion on the "proper" female behavior in relation to the national and patriarchal communities who feel the need to "morally discipline" these women. Remember that this "discipline" process leads to violent outcomes; remember that both men and women were violently protesting Mehta's film in India. I guess I was expecting more feminist criticism, alongside a conversation on the politics of neo-colonialism.

-------

... of course, the letter ends with a note of nice-ness, and a tinge of apology for being blunt.


Sex, Lies and Chocolate: Realities of Reproductive Health in BC

Sponsored by UBC Medical Students for Choice:

Thursday Feb 7th, 2008
MSAC (corner of 12th and Heather)
7-9 p.m.
7-8 Silent auction, cash wine bat and appys
8-8:30 Guest Barb Hestrin, Senior Administrator
8:30-9 Q&A, Winner of silent auction announced

All are welcome

Proceeds go to UBC Med Student for Choice events such as guest speakers, travel, conferences for students