Feminism

Queen’s University Faculty Statement in Support of Feminist Activism

Photo of Douglas Library at Queen's UniversityNote: the following is a statement signed by more than 80 Queen’s University faculty members in support of  “Feminist Enquiry, Association, and Activism”, released after the attack on student Danielle D’Entremont, a feminist activist who had been involved in protesting men’s rights activism on campus.

Thanks to Mary Louise Adams in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies for sending this in.

Faculty Statement in Support of Feminist Enquiry, Association, and Activism

 

We, the undersigned faculty at Queen’s University, believe in and strongly support feminist enquiry, association, Feminism has a long and complex history. It, like other political philosophies, has many variants, traditions and streams. Feminists rarely speak with one voice, and they are certainly not only female. But what we have in common is a commitment to equality of all kinds and an abhorrence of violence, both individual and systemic.

We see the marginalization of women as complex and intertwined with racialization, colonization, class inequalities, sexual orientation, and global location. Feminists agree that education is key to changing cultures of physical, emotional, and sexual violence and to maintaining hard won rights that must actively be protected.

We are outraged at the recent attack on a female Queen’s student, as we are at all acts of violence. We write to show our support for feminist students and feminist work at Queen’s and for everyone who speaks out against violence, discrimination, and injustice. We are proud to have the chance to work with students who are committed to social justice and equality.

  • Annette Burfoot, Department of Sociology
  • Petra Fachinger, Department of English
  • Mary Louise Adams, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies
  • Asha Varadharajan, Department of English
  • Samantha King, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies
  • Karen Dubinsky, Department of Global Development Studies/Department of History
  • Eleanor MacDonald, Department of Political Studies
  • Susan Lord, Department of Film and Media Studies
  • Ellen Goldberg, School of Religion
  • Katherine McKittrick, Department of Gender Studies
  • David McDonald, Department of Global Development Studies
  • Frank Burke, Department of Film and Media Studies
  • Dia Da Costa, Department of Global Development Studies
  • Stevenson Fergus, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies
  • Kip Pegley, School of Music
  • Beverley Mullings, Department of Gender Studies/Department of Geography
  • Kim Renders, Department of Drama
  • Ishita Pande, Department of History
  • Geneviève Dumas, Dept. of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
  • Kathleen Lahey, Faculty of Law
  • Elaine Power, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies
  • Natalie Rewa, Department of Drama
  • Paritosh Kumar, Department of Global Development Studies
  • Dorit Naaman, Department of Film and Media Studies
  • Gabrielle McIntire, Department of English
  • Audrey Kobayashi, Department of Geography
  • Scott Morgensen, Department of Gender Studies
  • Brigitte E. Bachmann, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • Lynne Hanson, Faculty of Law
  • James Miller, School of Religion
  • Jan Mennell, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • Sylvat Aziz, Department of Art
  • Joyce Davidson, Department of Geography
  • Lynda Jessup, Cultural Studies Program
  • Jeffrey Brison, Department of History
  • Roberta Hamilton, Professor Emerita, Department of Sociology
  • Geoffrey Smith, Professor Emeritus, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies
  • Jane Tolmie, Department of Gender Studies
  • Richard Day, Department of Global Development Studies
  • Gary Kibbins, Department of Film and Media Studies
  • Marcus Taylor, Department of Global Development Studies
  • John Freeman, Faculty of Education
  • Marc Epprecht, Department of Global Development Studies
  • Elizabeth MacEachren, Faculty of Education
  • Mark Hostetler, Department of Global Development Studies
  • Monika Holzschuh Sator, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
  • Robert Lovelace, Department of Global Development Studies
  • Ariel Salzmann, Department of History
  • Mark Jones, Department of English
  • Patricia Rae, Department of English
  • Clive Robertson, Department of Art
  • Laura Cameron, Department of Geography
  • Alex Da Costa, Department of Global Development Studies/Cultural Studies Program
  • Sam McKegney, Department of English
  • Roberta Lamb, School of Music
  • Christine Overall, Department of Philosophy
  • Allison Morehead, Department of Art
  • Matt Rogalsky, School of Music
  • Margaret Little, Department of Gender Studies
  • Janice Helland, Art History
  • Cathy Christie, Faculty of Education
  • Jane Errington, Department of History
  • Caroline-Isabelle Caron, Department of History
  • Melissa Lafrenière, Department of Geography
  • Cynthia Levine-Rasky, Department of Sociology
  • Elizabeth Hanson, Department of English
  • Leela Viswanathan, School of Urban and Regional Planning
  • Emily Hill, Department of History
  • Karen Frederickson, School of Music
  • Jacqueline Davies, Department of Philosophy
  • Shehla Burney, Faculty of Education
  • Beverley Baines, Faculty of Law
  • Susanne Soederberg, Department of Global Development
  • Studies/Department of Political Studies
  • Sharry Aiken, Faculty of Law
  • Allison Goebel, School of Environmental Studies
  • Laura Murray, Department of English
  • Leda Raptis, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Patricia Peppin, Faculty of Law
  • Adèle Mercier, Department of Philosophy
  • Harry McCaughey, Emeritus Professor, Department of Geography

 

(photo of Douglas Library at Queen’s University in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism 9 Comments

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

Gender Focus Reads: Excluded by Julia Serano

photo of a hard copy of Julia Serano's "Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive", with several post-its sticking outby Jarrah Hodge

I received a review copy of Julia Serano’s newest book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive last fall, and I knew it was going to be particularly important. Serano’s last book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Feminism and the Scapegoating of Femininity has been a hugely impactful book for many trans* people and feminists and was even named the 16th most important feminist book of all time by Ms. Magazine.

Moving into 2014, it’s clear this book – and the discussions it provokes – are more necessary than ever. Last year saw more than 790 individuals and 60 organizations sign on to the Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism, but it also saw trans people continuing to struggle – often without wholehearted feminist support – for acknowledgments of basic rights and freedom from violence. It saw the unjust imprisonment of CeCe McDonald, Vancouver Rape Relief invite an anti-trans speaker to their December 6 memorial event, and British media harassing trans teacher Lucy Meadows, leading to her suicide. And literally this past week, a similar event occurred when Grantland writer Caleb Hannan outed a trans woman, Dr. V., and published a cruel, misgendering article even after her suicide.

The continuing injustice and exclusion should unite us as feminist and queer activists, rather than dividing us, and Serano’s book considers how we can get there.

The first part of Excluded is a collection of Serano’s essays since Whipping Girl, outlining exclusion within feminist and queer movements, including femme and bisexual communities, and at events like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Fest:

“I realized right there at the lake what a mistake many women from Michigan make when they insist that trans women would threaten their safe space, destroying a rare place where they feel comfortable revealing their own bodies. Because there is never any safety in the erasing of difference, and no protection in the expectation that all women live up to certain physical criteria. The only truly safe space is one that respects each woman for her own individual uniqueness.”

The essays are particularly helpful for understanding the big picture if you haven’t read Whipping Girl or experienced the kind of discrimination she talks about first-hand.

The second part is new material introducing Serano’s proposals for creating inclusion. Serano states:

“One-size-fits-all approaches to gender and sexuality – whether they occur in straight male-centric mainstream, or within feminist and queer subcultures – inevitably result in double standards, where bodies and behaviors can only ever be viewed as either right or wrong, natural or unnatural, normal or abnormal, righteous or immoral…we should distance ourselves from these one-size-fits-all models, and instead embrace an alternative approach – what I call a holistic approach to feminism.”

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Books, Feminism, LGBT Leave a comment

The Powerful Language of Feminism

Photo of young women holding a feminist protest signby Matilda Branson

I often wonder about how to engage young non-feminists in feminism. When I say “non-feminists”, I’m not referring to people who are sexist, or anti-feminist – I refer merely to the majority of the world who just haven’t come into much contact with feminist principles or gender equality/equity debates.

That is not to say they haven’t been touched by feminism in their everyday lives, navigating gender roles and societal norms, encountering sexism or discrimination at work, or facing the baby vs. career question. They have been shocked and appalled by Half the Sky, or have campaigned for LGBT rights – it’s just they haven’t been exposed to Feminism as a concept with a capital F, and might not go out of their way to read a book or article on it, or actively define themselves as A Feminist.

It’s not a bad thing, it’s just how it is. I used to do the very same – from a young age I was highly interested in all issues promoting gender equality in every sphere of my life, but when I was 15, if someone had asked me, “Are you a feminist?”, I’m not sure I would have given a downright “Yes”. All I knew about Feminism were the negative stereotypes: feminists don’t shave their armpits, they’re often vegetarian or vegan, never wear high heels and generally come across as a bit prickly.

I delighted in smooth legs and underarms, pretty summer dresses and loved my steaks cooked blue. A lifetime of exposure to these negative stereotypes left me unconsciously hesitant to actively embrace that Matilda Was A Feminist, at the risk of being mistaken as a bearer of those negative stereotypes. It took those formulaic years at university when one’s identity begins to take on a stronger form that I gained a more nuanced understanding of the many shades of feminism, and where I fit into it all, and how I could identify proudly and comfortably as a feminist. Read more

Posted on by Matilda Branson in Feminism Leave a comment

My Feminism Will Be Trans-Inclusive

Trans flagby Jarrah Hodge

I have joined at least 200 other feminists in signing on to A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism. The statement was crafted in response to a summer that saw several high-profile instances of feminist transphobia, including:

“the forthcoming book by Sheila Jeffreys from Routledge; the hostile and threatening anonymous letter sent to Dallas Denny after she and Dr. Jamison Green wrote to Routledge regarding their concerns about that book; and the recent widely circulated statement entitled “Forbidden Discourse: The Silencing of Feminist Critique of ‘Gender,’”signed by a number of prominent, and we regret to say, misguided, feminists have been particularly noticeable.”

This is all happening in an already hostile climate for trans people, including persistent mis-gendering of Chelsea Manning and continuing murders of trans people, particularly trans women of colour.

I’d encourage people to read the statement in its entirety and to sign on here, but I’m also excerpting a portion for this post. Thanks so much to the people who took the initiative to write this thoughtful statement and to the moderators going through the deluge of comments and signatures.

We, the undersigned trans* and cis scholars, writers, artists, and educators, want to publicly and openly affirm our commitment to a trans*-inclusive feminism and womanism.

[...]

We are committed to recognizing and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognizing trans* women as women and including them in all women’s spaces; to recognizing trans* men as men and rejecting accounts of manhood that exclude them; to recognizing the existence of genderqueer, non-binary identifying people and accepting their humanity; to rigorous, thoughtful, nuanced research and analysis of gender, sex, and sexuality that accept trans* people as authorities on their own experiences and understands that the legitimacy of their lives is not up for debate; and to fighting the twin ideologies of transphobia and patriarchy in all their guises.

(full credit to Flavia Dzodan for writing the article the title alludes to: “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional or It Will Be Bullshit”, and specifically for her work supporting trans-inclusive feminism).

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT 1 Comment

Displaced Ownership of Female Sexuality: The Case of the Purity Ball

Logo for the 2007 Hollywood Father-Daughter Purity Ball

Logo for the 2007 Hollywood Father-Daughter Purity Ball, showing a heart. Inside the heart is a stick figure of an adult male holding a key and the hand of a little girl with a key-hole on her skirt.

Gender Focus welcomes new contributor Jennifer Geinosky! Jennifer Geinosky is an aspiring author, lifelong student, and brand new blogger bring her thoughts to light on her website: This Much I Know is True: A Place for My Thoughts.

Historically from virginity to marriage, we’ve witnessed the displaced ownership of women’s sexualities. Today, girls across the world are participating in “purity balls” where they dress to the nines to pledge their virginity to their fathers. I wanted to write a piece critically assessing these purity balls, since they relate to our discussion of sexuality.

To better understand the concepts that fuel the purity ball trend, we have to look at them independently. We must first address virginity. Our familiar notion of virginity has no scientific grounding or basis in reality beyond the meanings we’ve given it. We typically think any discussion of virginity refers to females. The idea that women “lose” something – their virginity – during their first experience of vaginal intercourse is problematic. Firstly, vaginal intercourse is a severely limited description of female sexuality. In a more general sense, “losing something” implies that something is misplaced by force or accident, in which both cases the owner lacks control. The language also implies that virginity is lost forever, never to be recovered or shared again.

The physical act that has defined a woman’s loss of virginity is the breaking or tearing of her hymen. In reality, this can occur at anytime between birth and death for a variety of reasons, and for some it never occurs regardless of sexual activity. While one’s first sexual experience can be a very special time, it can also be very awkward, confusing, or traumatic.

We’ve evolved to expand the definition of virginity to both males and females, and now consider it to be given and not just lost, but the definition is far from comprehensive and harmless. Read more

Posted on by Jennifer Geinosky in Feminism 1 Comment

When You Think You’re the Only Feminist in Your Town

Pink Shirt Girlby Winter Black

Feminists are angry, feminists are feisty, feminists are funny, feminists are… lonely? Despite the fact that feminists tend to be quite open about their views, a lot of ladies are left feeling like they’re the only pro-women people in their small towns. Local feminist communities tend to lack, well, community. If you feel like you’re living in a city filled with purely misogynistic idiots or people who just don’t care, I can completely relate. I used to walk down my city’s streets passing by pro-lifers protesting outside my local abortion clinic, watch women get catcalled, hear slut-shaming remarks coming out of the mouths of my classmates and wonder why I was the only feminist around. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only feminist around and you most likely aren’t either.

Despite how little or closed-minded your town may be, you can almost always participate in or start up a feminist community. One obvious way is to join a local feminist group. If your town doesn’t have a feminist group, consider starting one yourself! Keep in mind, this may be too big of a commitment for you, so we’ll get back to this idea in a moment.

A more sublte way to get involved is volunteer work. Your city or town most likely has a local Sexual Assault and Crisis Centre, Women’s Shelter or Transistion House (for abused women), that could always use a little bit of help. If you don’t have the time to volunteer, you could donate! Women’s Shelters especially are constantely looking for donations of food, toiletries or blankets. If you’re unsure of what to donate, call them up or check their website to see if they’ve posted a list. Depending on how much time you can put into it, you could even set up a fundraiser. My local feminist group recently organized a coffee house fundraiser where we asked local musicians to play, local businesses to donate food and local teenagers to come enjoy the night for a small price at the door!

If volunteering isn’t your thing, then look around newspapers or listen to the radio to find out if there’s any feminist movie nights or events set up by local feminists that you could attend. This is a great way to learn more while meeting new lady-lovin’ friends. Read more

Posted on by Sorcha Beirne in Feminism 3 Comments
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