Rise up! ‘Drawn to Change’ illustrates Canadian labour’s stories and struggles

Drawn to Change’ is both a moving historical account and an unabashed call to arms.

“Indeed, much of what we learn about history in school, at the movies or on the History channel revolved around the lives of individuals with the most money and power in society, such as monarchs, capitalists, and politicians. But workers’ lives matter too; without our labour, society would cease to function. We are important agents of social transformation, and our power is magnified when we work together.”

So begins the Graphic History Collective’s new collection Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working Class Struggle.

Drawn to Change has over 20 contributors with nine comics portraying different moments in Canadian labour. From 19th-century Knights of Labour to the contemporary Live-in Caregiver Program, this collection of chronological graphic histories is a feat of visual expression and storytelling and an incredible resource for Canadian labour history.

Read the full review on rabble.ca.

Bollywood Beats and Big Band @ SPOT Festival 2016

Lars Møller’s Glow of Benares is a cultural crossroads manifested through artistic expression

The song Indian Train Ride starts off with a big band beat coupled with images of a train station projected onto the wall behind the band, and an Indian melody. Then, violinists bring in the “big sound” with their singing strings, guiding the audience through an incredibly upbeat start of the moving six-song performance titled Glow of Benares.

Glow of Benares is Part 1 of a collaborative musical project piloted by composer Lars Møller. The arrangement is performed by the Randers Chamber Orchestra, the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra and featured artists Abhijit Banerjee and Kala Ramnath.

Former artistic director of the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, Møller is composer in residence for this project and conducted the performance of the original work Bollywood Beats and Big Band this past Thursday at the Aarhus Musikhuset as part of Day 1 SPOT Festival, an annual music festival in Aarhus that puts a “spotlight” on new bands and artists from Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia.

Filling the Musikhuset’s Rytmisk Sal with a medley of big band sound and notes from the Raga melodic mode of traditional South Asian music, the performance was both moving and spectacular.

Read the full editorial on the Jutland Station website.

Muslim Feminisms: Solidarity Before Censure

There are many ways to be a feminist. There are many ways to show solidarity. It should go without saying that there are many ways to practice Islam.

In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the subsequent spate of abuse and assaults against Muslims living in Western countries, it is important that the vulnerability of visibly Muslim women is acknowledged. Even non-Muslim women of colour are at risk for abuse, should they choose to protect themselves from the cold with a vaguely Islamic scarf. As non-veiled Muslim women, both myself and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown carry a certain privilege in our ability to pass through Islamophobic spaces with slightly less scrutiny than our hijabi sisters.

Inclusive feminism necessitates an acknowledgement and acceptance of both the vulnerability of visibly Muslim women and the privilege of non-visibly Muslim women. Muslim women, veiled and unveiled, need to stand together. Feminists, Muslim or not, need to stand together. Without this, we are only perpetuating transcultural patriarchy—which seeks control of women’s bodies—through simultaneous criticism of wearing too much and too little.

Alibhai-Brown’s new book Refusing the Veil is at points a thoughtful and comprehensive walk through important points in the history of Islam and philosophies of practice. At other points, however, it reads as a soft conservative polemic against Muslim women and their agency, fraught with contradictions about how women should walk the fine balance between modest and slutty.

Read the full review at GUTS Magazine.

Women of Labour and the Arts: Talking With the 2014 Min Sook Lee Award Winners

Winter 2015

People don’t understand,” says musician, singer/songwriter and community activist Faith Nolan. “They think labour is two old white guys hammering a nail who want more money and to work less. They don’t see that those two old white guys, along with white women and brown and black and yellow women and men, are doing this labour to have the right to a life. People have a disconnect in this sense.”

Read the full feature on the Our Times Magazine website.

Writing Pictures, Drawing Stories: A Caregiver Comic Book

August 2014

What does it mean to care for another person’s child when your own is far away? What does it mean to exist in a country only as long as you are employed by citizens of that state? What is it called when you work 24 hours a day caring for a family that becomes your family, because you live with your employer?

According to two Toronto artists, Althea Balmes and Jo SiMalaya Alcampo, it is called a labour of
love. The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), one visa option under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker
Program, is where the politics of labour meet the politics of love.

Balmes and Alcampo are the creators of LCP Comics, and the project Kwentong Bayan: Labour of Love.

Read the full feature on the Our Times Magazine website.

Feminist Media Feature: That Awkward Moment

March 31, 2014

After watching Hollywood heartthrob Zac Efron’s latest flick That Awkward Moment, my movie-going companion and I decided to expand the definition of the nuanced film term “dick flick”. Previously understood to be the opposite of a “chick flick” (which is a movie that typically deals with romance as a plot device and is meant to appeal to female audiences). That Awkward Moment has the same formula as a typical 20 or 30-something dating life movie: a small group of friends simultaneously finding themselves and what they really want in a partner through their individual plot lines, all while living in an amazing city with cool jobs and great apartments. Except That Awkward Moment’s protagonists are all dudes!

If there were a reverse Bechdel Test this movie would fail, because these three friends, (played by Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller) only talk about girls. It starts with Efron’s and Teller’s characters exemplifying the trope of the virile metropolitan man who is only trying to have as much sex as possible without being tied down by commitment, which (big surprise) gets thrown out of whack when they each find girls that they want to commit to.

Read the full article on the Because I Am A Woman blog.

Feminist Media Feature: The Heat

January 21, 2014

Okay, so first off I really enjoyed The Heat. Starring Sandra Bullock as a high-strung FBI agent with too much to prove and Melissa McCarthy as a tough cop with absolutely no fucks to give, it was like the female Lethal Weapon. One wild card cop gets forced to partner with a more straitlaced one, neither of whom actually want to work with a partner. Slapstick violence, quick banter and general hilarity ensue. Add Bullock’s character development (she learns to be less of an uptight show-off) and McCarthy’s character’s interesting backstory (dedication to her rough neighborhood and the family that ostracizes her for joining the fuzz), and you end up with an engaging plot, good dialogue and a million vagina references.

Read the full article on the Because I Am A Woman blog.

Feminist Dictionary: What is The Patriarchy?

November 5, 2013

I recently noticed that a day rarely goes by where I do not mention The Patriarchy. I find ways to bring it up in every day conversation, my comments on the movie I saw last weekend, my response to news headlines.

It’s something I see everywhere. It’s on TV, it’s in the conversation I have with my coworkers, my father, my brother, my mother and my sister. It’s in the music I listen to and it’s on the dark street I hurry down late at night.

But what is it?

Read the full article on the Because I Am A Woman blog.

“Pocahotties”, “Geisha Girls” and “Rasta Impostas”

October 28, 2013

Hey there, BCIAW reader. I don’t know you and it’s possible you don’t know me. I’m not one to ask for favours from strangers but in this case, I have to make an exception. Is that okay? Is that cool? If not, it’s okay. Maybe just listen before you decide.

This October I need a huge favour. So reader, do me a solid and don’t be ridiculous this Halloween. Don’t subscribe to the popular and reprehensible trend of cultural appropriation for your All Hallows Eve costume. Do it for me, if saving yourself from being forever branded an obtuse (insensitive, politically incorrect, uninformed, offensive and frankly uncreative) idiot is not enough. If you never do anything for another person again, let this be the last bit of good karma you put out into the universe. Trust me, it’s appreciated. Not sure where to start? Here is a short guide:

Don’t dress up as a “Pocahottie”, “Geisha Girl” or “Rasta Imposta”.

Read the full article on the Because I Am A Woman blog.

Feminist Media Feature: ABC’s The Fosters

August 15, 2013

There are a number of reasons why I love ABC’s new series The Fosters. Airing Monday night’s at 9PM Central on ABC Family, The Fosters is a Drama series that premiered in June of this year, whose heartwarming but somehow still gut-wrenching summer finale aired this past Monday. The show revolves around an interracial lesbian couple Steph Foster and Lena Adams, who are raising Steph’s bioligical son from a previous marriage and two adopted children (previously living with them as part of the foster care program). In the Pilot episode the family takes on two more foster kids.

Read the full article on the Because I Am A Woman blog.