Status of Women Committee MPs Study Eating Disorders

Canada's House of Commons library roofby Jarrah Hodge

On February 10 I had a unique opportunity to speak to the House of Commons Status of Women Committee on eating disorders, media and gender. The committee, which is made up of Members of Parliament from the major parties, had recently voted the following:

“It was agreed, — That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee conduct a study of eating disorders amongst girls and women, including the nature of these diseases, what treatments are providing the most relief to patients and where they are available, how family physicians can learn more about eating disorders and how to treat them, what roadblocks exist to better serve girls and women with eating disorders, and what resources relevant stakeholders need to improve the lives of these patients.”

Basically, the committee is studying eating disorders, particularly among Canadian girls and women, and considering potential service gaps and areas for improvement.

My name was put forward by NDP Status of Women Critic Niki Ashton. Given that I’m not a doctor and there were many clinical experts and people with personal or family experience already speaking, I thought it made most sense for me to bring in feminist analysis of how media images of women factor into eating disorders.

Over the weekend leading up to the appearance via videoconference, I had a lot of help getting a firmer understanding of the situation facing people with eating disorders in Canada, and the research that has been done showing links between media and eating disorders, and the potential for media literacy education to help with prevention and treatment. Many members of the Women, Action & The Media (WAM!) Vancouver listserv shared their ideas and resources, but I owe particular thanks to Sharon from the fabulous website Adios Barbie, Kalamity from Fat Panic! Vancouver, and Angela from Project True.

With their help, I put together a 10-minute opening statement, which I will paste below the jump along with links to my references, since those don’t appear in the online transcript. On at the same time as me was Wendy Preskow, founder of the National Initiative for Eating Disorders, who told the heart-wrenching and powerful story of her daughter’s struggle with bulimia and getting the care she needs. After our statements, the committee members asked us questions. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics, Pop Culture 1 Comment

FFFF: Hari Kondabolu on Whites Becoming the Minority

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Hari Kondabolu uses his comedy skills to deconstruct the panic around the prediction that 2042 will be the year whites become “the minority” in America.

Transcript (after the jump): Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF, Racism Leave a comment

Stop Groping Me

Left handby Matilda Branson

Trigger Warning: discussion of sexual harassment and assault

Groping. Definition: When used in a sexual context, groping is touching or fondling another person in a sexual way using the hands; it generally has a negative connotation, and is considered molestation in most societies.

I’m really sick of being groped. I started to think about times I’ve been the target of a groper, frotteur (someone who masturbates by rubbing against another person, often in a crowd) or flasher, or experienced sexual harassment in public places. I was both shocked and enraged at how many seemingly small incidents have occurred throughout my lifetime.

The supervising barman who whipped me on the ass with a tea towel when I bent over to pick up a tray of glasses, or insisted unnecessarily on squeezing past me in tight spaces of the bar when as I carried boxes of beer – something he would never do with male colleagues. The elderly priest at a funeral who repetitively squeezed my bottom as I passed around a bowl of chips at the wake. The boss in his fifties who made constant sexual innuendo and tried to kiss me on a work trip.

Backpacking: on an overnight ferry in the Greek Islands, where a man walked up to my friend and I, staring at us intently and grinning manically – with his hand moving furiously near his fly, as he watched us and masturbated publicly – and to see that man walk off the ferry the next morning with a family in tow. The Costa Rican bus conductor who cornered me – the last passenger – in my seat on the second story of a double decker bus and refused to let me off unless I kissed him.

Working overseas: using my handbag as a barrier between myself and a man on a tightly packed train carriage in Southeast Asia, and arriving at work with a handbag covered in semen. The group of teen boys I walked past on an evening walk, where one boy pushed another so he “fell” into my breasts, and as I walked away, called out, “I wanna f#%k you baby.” The man who gropes my ass as I’m out shopping with my boyfriend for a soup ladle and spices at a local market in Kathmandu. The taxi driver who insists on “taking a short cut” at 8.30pm at night, then stops in an alley, cuts the engine and lights, then says, “Give me all your money, or I’m going to hurt you.” The man in the alley who flashes his penis at my housemates and I as we leave our house.

And what have I done in response to these situations? I’ve pretended it didn’t happen. I’ve frozen and not moved until the moment passed. I’ve convinced myself it was an accident and ignored the cold twist of gut instinct telling me otherwise. I’ve laughed it off and turned it into a funny anecdote to recount at a later date to friends, or I haven’t told anyone. Read more

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The Round-Up: Feb. 18, 2014

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Round-Ups 1 Comment

FFFF: Your First Black Girlfriend

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New York-based writer and comedian Akilah Hughes was inspired by challenges in her own interracial relationship to create this funny and pointed video about how to treat black women as human. Hughes told the Huffington Post:

I think Black women are exoticized in interracial relationships because the media only portrays Black women in a few ways, while other races tend to get more options. The media mold for a young Black woman is very limited–must be extremely aggressive, commandeering, unintelligent, etc.–while that has not been the case with the overwhelming majority of Black women I’ve met from all different backgrounds. Truthfully, I think more Black women would feel comfortable dating outside of their race if that wasn’t the case, because it’s one thing to have a TV show or movie that doesn’t know you see you in that negative light–it’s quite another to find out that your significant other does as well. When media starts to reflect the actual world we inhabit instead of aiming to create it, I’m sure there will be greater understanding in interracial relationships.

Transcript (after the jump):

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF, Racism 1 Comment

The Round-Up: Feb. 11, 2014

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A Feminist Filmmaker’s Dilemma

still from "Sex On Wheels" showing Amanda on a bike racing her friendsby Amanda Feder

At 24, I found myself faced with a strange and alienating reality, particularly after having just finished the cliché college experience: I found myself having to put effort into finding a date. And then soon after, I found myself making a film about it.

Of course, the short I made, “Sex on Wheels”, is actually about a lot more than that. The film was meant to be a portrait of the bike community in Toronto, as seen through the eyes of an outsider (at 24, I didn’t know how to ride a bike). A running joke I had at the time was how not knowing to ride my bike was killing my dating life, and a series of random/wonderful events turned that idea into a film project.

I’ll spare you the semi-pretentious director’s statement that perhaps no filmmaker can avoid, highlighting all the themes and hidden messages and triumphs that they find in their work, even in something as light as “Sex on Wheels.”

At the end of the day, I found myself, a feminist, to be the director of a film that follows me trying to find a man. And it made me feel weird. Read more

Posted on by Amanda Feder in Can-Con, Feminism Leave a comment