Breaking bread & movement building

“I want to help people who look like me, I always tell women, get involved in the labour movement. We’ll make space for you.” So says labour activist Gogi Bhandal who, on Sunday March 1, came together in sisterhood and solidarity with over 500 women in Brampton, Ontario’s Starlight Grand Convention Centre for an annual brunch celebrating International Women’s Day. Now in its eighth year, the brunch draws people from all over Peel region to honour the work of women, the advances they’ve made in the workplace and in society, and to discuss what still needs to be done.

“This event,” Bhandal explains, “is about building the women’s movement and building community, because women play a huge part in community building.”

Read the full story in Our Times Magazine.

Join a Group Discussion on “the Erotic” as a Source of Empowerment

“When I speak of the erotic, I speak of it as an assertion of the life force of women,” writes American feminist writer, poet and activist Audre Lorde in her essay, “Uses of the Erotic: the Erotic as Power”.

She speaks, she continues, “of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives”.

This Friday, Science Gallery mediator Clara Hancock and artist Natasha Ruwona will lead a workshop based on this essay as part of the Science Gallery’s ongoing exhibition on intimacy.

Read the full story at the Dublin InQuirer.

Period Positivity

As a guest on the show The Jungle I spoke about Period Positivity and the way we think about menstruation. Tune to 1:05:00 to hear that segment.

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.

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.

Series: Debunking rape myths and interrogating rape culture

Representation of rape cases and reinforcing rape culture in the media March 11, 2014

Maria Olaya & Johana Martin of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre; Conducted with Leana Lattanzio

Toronto Rape Crisis Centre and rape culture March 4, 2014

Maria Olaya & Johana Martin of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre; Conducted with Leana Lattanzio

Sexual assault on university campuses March 4th, 2014

Wendy Komiotis of METRAC

9th Annual Strawberry Ceremony in Toronto, February 11th 2014

Jolene John of the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services, York University

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.