Informal Feminism

{June 19, 2011}   The Importance of Fathers

So it’s Father’s Day and I wanted to focus on fatherhood as a result. Feminism often gets a bad rap when it comes to men; we are seen as deploring them and wishing that they did not exist. This could not be farther from truth, for most of us, we have respect for men we just wish to be equal to them. In my life I have several men whom I love and respect, my father is one of these men. Father’s play an integral part in their child’s life; in my life my father helped to show me that I could be whoever I wish to be. He loves me unconditionally and is proud of all my accomplishments. He was the person who showed me how to properly hammer a nail and paint a house. He made me able to work a power saw without cutting off one of limbs but teaching me construction techniques was not all he was good for. He also helped to teach me how to respect myself and respect other people. My father is a strong, responsible and loving man without whom I am not sure I would have turned out as good as I did. While we have our clash’s, because we are too much alike everyone tells us, he is always looking out for my best interest and just wants me to be happy. So I want to send a shout out to one of the most important men in my life and tell him how much I love him and am proud to be his daughter.

In my life my father played a large role in helping to contribute to my core values and the way that I choose to live my life. I think this is something that can get looked over when we are discussing child raising, we tend to focus on the mother as a solo parent and push men out of the picture. Often this is a result of seeing a slanted division of labour within the household, where the women are doing more of the home responsibilities but to say that all father’s lack influence in their child’s life is unfair. I often see fathers, as much as mothers, being portrayed in a certain light. When I turn on any television sitcom with a family, the father is always a slob who works and does not care for the child raising responsibilities he leaves it to the mom. However, when I look at the men whom I know that are fathers they are the opposite, they take an active role in the child’s life and are proud to say that they are helping to shape this person into who they will become. They can not wait to see how they develop and in what ways their influence as a father has on their child.

The other person in my life who is a father is my partner. I am now getting to know a different side of fatherhood then the experience of my own. I can understand better those decision’s my father made for us as children when he would tell us no or take the time to explain how we had made a mistake. It wasn’t out of a need to be mean to us but out of love and wanting to make sure that we grew up to be smart, sensible and loving adults. I watch my partner with his son and you can tell that he is love for him is overflowing and he will do everything he can to partake in his sons life and help shape him into a responsible and caring adult who has respect for himself and others.

It is these images that I see when I think of fatherhood. I see my father and my partner and my friends who are fathers and watch them go out of their way to provide for and love their children. While often we want to say that men do not take an active role in their children’s lives, and that may be true in some cases, but there are fathers who love their children beyond themselves and wish to do their best by them and they deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated. Fathers also play a key role in developing a respect for women. The father’s I know want to instil in a daughter a respect for herself and in their sons a respect for women, so in that aspect can be important in helping shape a new generations view of women. I think that is something important to keep in mind when it comes to feminism because we often want to blame men for their lack of support but we have to remember that a lot of men out there are working hard to be part of their family’s lives, be active in their children’s life and leave their children with values of equality and respect. So today if you have a father that you love and respect tell him how important he is to you.


{June 12, 2011}   Community

Hey Guys, I’m, back this week with my batteries a little recharged. There have been a lot of different topics thrown my way by friends in the past few weeks, so in this intro I am going to give a quick rundown of the couple of things that have been brought to my attention. The first thing is the young female page who stood up in our parliament and held up a STOP HARPER sign, I was so excited to hear about this story. The page herself did end up fired but was close to ending her term with the government so she took her opportunity where she saw it. Though she did not receive the backing of members of parliament with her sign, it was enough to garner mass media attention and as we all know all press is good press. So to the page I send my respect because she is standing up for what she believes in and I am sure many Canadians stand behind her, I know I do. The second story that I would like to briefly comment on is the genderless baby, if you have been anywhere near the media lately you will probably have heard about the genderless baby. The family has chosen to keep the child’s gender a secret and attempt to raise it without the usual stereotypes that come from gendered childhoods, see my last post. It has gained a large amount of media attention because people are unable to grasp the concept that this child will be raised genderless. I feel that these people have made an interesting decision and they should be left to raise their child any way they want to, I personally would love to see how a genderless childhood impacts the aforementioned child. The final quick thing I want to mention if you haven’t heard Canada’s new majority government have come out solidly against the Kyoto Protocol which limits fuel emissions in an attempt to battle climate change. The first of many bad decisions I’m sure we are about to see out of this new regime.

What I really want to get to this week is community. I know community is one of my favourite topics because I feel it is so important for everyone to feel as if they have a safe space in which to express their ideas. Recently I have joined forces with a friend and she has started a feminist group where local women can come and express their ideas safely. These types of groups are so important to female communities I find because there are many women who don’t even think about feminism or who buy into the stereotypes presented about it. A few months ago I was looking for somewhere local that I could volunteer at that had to do specifically with women and women’s issues. In Oshawa, I couldn’t find anything. The few places that were accepting volunteers were places that supported a Christian right agenda and pushed certain ideologies on women that I do not agree with and therefore could not align with. When my friend came to me and told me about the idea for a feminist group where women could come and talk and discuss problems that they were faced with regularly I was thrilled. I knew it was the kind of space that I would love to be involved with.

The group is something that I loved the idea of because it is something very familiar to me. When I was in university I had a strong female community, I had women who learned with me and we shared in our passion with feminism that way, we bonded over learning about the different ways that women face oppression and finding ways that we could possible make a difference. We learned from each other and had the time to get together and share our experiences. These women are still a hugely important part of my life but we now have distances between us it makes it harder for us to make this a regular get together. In Oshawa I have friends that again share my passion for discussing women’s issues but they found as I did that there was no space for them to express their opinions outside of our conversations. As I have said earlier there do not seem to be many women’s groups that I could join. So this group is something I fully embraced, though there has only been one official meeting to the group there has been a facebook page created about it and it has just been hectic with conversation about different issues that these women are facing and it shows me that these women are happy to have found a space to share their voice and their issues.

This type of community is clearly an outlet that these women love to have because we have found a space in which the ideas are not shrugged off but accepted and expanded upon. It is fun to watch it expand and grow over the past few weeks and I can’t wait to hear more from these women on different issues. The only way that we will ever find change is to continue discussion. In the same way that I try to do here every week, this group is trying to give local women the space to talk and share their ideas and issues. I have loved watching it come to fruition and will love watching it grow because we grow in learning from each other and that’s what this group is allowing women to do learn and talk to each other in a different way then we are usually expected to. So again I ask for responses, tell me a little about your own community.

{May 29, 2011}   Gender Roles and Toys

My friend turned me onto a YouTube artist this week that is called gender neutralizer. He covers popular songs but reworks them to question normative concepts of gender, which I found really interesting and is what I want to talk a little bit about this week. Our society is far from a gender neutral society, it is clearly defined in terms of girls and boys or men and women. These concepts of gender though can be very harmful to many people though and need to be challenge and deconstructed.

In our society girls are raised to believe that they should like certain things to the exclusion of others. When you go to most toy stores there is a clearly defined female section which is usually covered in hot pink. This area displays toys that are clearly catering to specific gender roles fashion dolls, dollhouses and kitchen sets abound. The messages that little girls receive in these areas are ones that speak to a predefined skill set, little girls should learn to look pretty, cook, clean and keep house. Boys on the other hand get a blue side of the store which is usually filled with action figures, cars, weapons and tools. Once again the gender message is clear boys are going to grow up to become fighters or workers and should be prepared to bring home the bacon. I always find it a bit of a shock to go into a toy store and find that the gender divide still exists so clearly. It can be difficult for kids to negotiate these gender roles especially if they feel like they are outside these specific gender roles.

These gender divides are detrimental because they are exclusive. The blue section is meant for boys and the pink section is meant for girls. What if you are a boy who wants to play with the girls toys, then you are made fun of. If you are a girl who prefers boys’ toys then you are a tomboy. What if you are a child who doesn’t belong to either section and you are not sure which to choose. What if you are confused by your gender, then pushing certain toys and ideals on the child can be hard for them to understand. These clear divides in the way that we deal with gender identity is problematic because it doesn’t allow for the child to be able to express themselves how they want but gives them a certain area/form they should be express themselves in.

Now I don’t want to be misunderstood, so I will tell you now that I played with Barbie’s and girls toys and loved pink my whole childhood. I could wait to rip open the latest Barbie and get right to brushing her hair and changing her clothes and making her play with all the other Barbie’s I owned. You might say, well you still turned out good and you speak your mind and try not to be limited by gender roles. That is not the issue, it is that these toys are meant to define if you are male or female and if you are not sure which one you want to be then you are made fun of. These gender areas of childhood can be very hurtful for children who have to cope with being in the middle. Our society defines gender in two ways Male and Female but from everything I have learned there are far more then two genders. So what I would love to see is repaint the sections and break them down by toy and not by gender, give the children the room to choose what they want to play with based on their likes and not their gender.

{May 23, 2011}   Your Opinion

So I have noticed that my blog has been getting more hits but the comments on the posts have become fewer. So this week instead of a full blog post, I pose the question What is your experience with feminism? Do you qualify yourself as a feminist or not? It would be awesome to get some responses, so I’ll leave it in your hands.

{May 15, 2011}   Loving Lady Gaga

Hi guys, I’m spending the weekend at my parents house in Barrie and lucky for me they have a flatscreen high-def t.v. and digital cable, my house has an old but good t.v. and no cable. Needless to say, I have spent a few hours catching up on movies I have wanted to see but been too cheap to rent. The first night I came my mom put on the Lady Gaga HBO special, which we didn’t really watch because we were catching up but what little I did see intrigued me. So last night I decided I had to watch the show from beginning to end and what I found was a new love of Lady Gaga.

Gaga is an outlandish character, she wears crazy outfits and produces a show that keeps the audience entertained and alert. Her style seems to be almost a mix of Madonna and Michael Jackson. Her messages though are fantastic, throughout her whole show she repeatedly makes statements for equality and being yourself. Pop music has always been a forum for these messages but it is only certain popular artists that are willing to bring them to the forefront of their music and Gaga is one of these artists. Often when I listen to pop music I find myself stunned by the messages they present, female pop artists are usually revolving around boys and how to please them or dancing with no real message. Now I might be judging just based on popular single hits by these artists but those are the songs and messages that the majority of people hear and absorb.

In the beginning with Lady Gaga I thought the same thing but when I listened to the lyrics of her different songs I realized that many of them had to do with being able to be yourself and not being reliant on men or anyone for that matter. This is especially true of her newest hit Born This Way, in which she sings about being perfect as your are and not changing to please others. These are the kinds of messages that the young pop fans should be exposed to because it does not present a message that life is all about conforming to a certain standard of beauty. This message is about being comfortable in your own skin and loving yourself for who you are, not pining to be someone your not.

This theme ran throughout her whole show and seems to be part of the reason that she chooses the outfits she wears. They may be outlandish, almost bordering cartoony, but they fit with her theme of being able to express yourself as you see fit. During the actual show she repeatedly tells the audience that the her intention is to allow her fans to be who they want to be and that is what the Monster Ball, the title of her show, is all about. She also is very inclusive of sexual orientation, in one of her lyrics she states that is does not matter if your gay, straight or bi you can be who you want to be, again this is a message that young pop listeners should be absorbing. It is a message of inclusivity and love.

The final thing that I wanted to touch on was the way that she handles her own sexuality on stage. A friend and I spent a day watching Gaga videos a few weeks ago and I said you could play a drinking game to the amount of time she touches her crotch in them. Gaga is very flamboyant about her sexuality in her work, she sings about it and dances to accentuate it. She also claims it and is not afraid of it, which as you know if you have read me before I find very important in women. Gaga’s freedom with her sexuality is one that should be admired when it is paired up with her music. She is not promoting promiscuity or unsafe sex or having sex before your ready, she is saying that it is ok to be a sexual being and express your sexuality in a way that is comfortable to you. As I said earlier many of her songs promote women being able to be independent and in control of their own lives, being able to express your sexuality in a healthy way is a major part of that concept.

Lady Gaga slowly crept up on me, I didn’t think that I would be able to get on board with her musically but after seeing her HBO special I would go so far as to call myself a fan. I think she is doing a great job of promoting amazing messages about being yourself and being able to express yourself. She also puts on an awesome show, the costumes and stage show are fantastic and fun to watch. So, if your ever looking for some pop music to get down to I would recommend checking out Lady Gaga.

{May 8, 2011}   Happy Mother’s Day!!

Happy Mother’s Day! I’m going to try to keep the post light hearted this week and talk about the importance of mother’s. The first thing I want to do is give a shout-out to my own mother, without whom I would not have become the woman I am. She is the toughest and most loving woman I know. She spent our childhood not only raising us but also working fulltime and still managed to turn out some pretty alright kids. She worked hard to instil us with good values and she is also one of my best friends. When I was in high school we had a Gilmore girls mother-daughter relationship, we were close. She has always been a person that I am able to open up to and share with. We live far apart now and don’t get to see each other or talk as often as we would like but I miss her everyday and when we do get together I am always sad when its time to go our separate ways again. So to my Mom I want to say Happy Mothers Day. Now let’s talk about the importance of Mothers.

Mothers are one of the most important elements of our society, since they are the ones who are in charge of raising the next generation of society. Many mothers pull a double work day, they work at their jobs all day and then they come home and have to be mom all night, this means that they are constantly doing some form of work all day. This can be very challenging and mothers never seem to get the appreciation that they deserve for pulling this long work days. So today if you have a mother who works a job and comes home to feed you, do laundry, clean the house, and take care of other domestic matters it is the right time to tell them how important they are.

It is not only the mother who pulls the double work day that deserves appreciation today but the stay-at-home moms as well. Stay-at-home mothers in our society are often perceived as lazy because they don’t have a job but this undervalues the work that they do at home, which can be more work then a full-time job. They never leave their jobs because their worksite is their home. They are also the ones who are in charge of raising the children in the home and reproducing our society. Mother’s raise the next generation of people and in doing so are integral to producing a society of quality human beings. So today if you have a stay-at-home mom, tell her how much you appreciate her and all the things she does for you.

As a feminist I have constantly heard that feminist hate families and have little to no respect for women who are also mothers. Every feminist I know would disagree with that. There is a high level of respect for women who are mothers in our society amongst feminists. Where the problem lies for a feminist is to see these women being undervalued and underappreciated. We expect these women to do everything for us and to work extremely long days without ever being told how important they are to us. It takes a lot from a woman to become a mother because often they lose themselves in it, they take more care of their family then they do of themselves. They work hard to ensure that their family stays healthy and happy, often at the expense of their own personal health and are not recognized for it. So while today is Mother’s Day and you should appreciate your mother because of the day, don’t forget to appreciate her the other 364 days of the year.

{May 3, 2011}   The Votes Are In

Well, the votes are in and Stephen Harper comes out triumphant with his majority government. The NDP are in opposition and the Green Party did get one seat, so at least the parties I support are making headway. However, this turn of events has me wondering how long till we regret the results of this election? We already know that Stephen Harper is a lying scumbag, who wants to make decisions that are not in our best interest. I also can’t help but wonder how these decisions are going to affect the women in this country. We now have a leader with a majority government who does not support women’s rights. He is against abortion, birth control and divorce, what is that going to mean for our rights as women? His view of women’s issues was clearly defined from the beginning when he cut funding to the status of women Canada and I’m sure we will see him making more changes to women and their rights and freedoms, if he is allowed to do as he pleases with our government. Not to mention the other policies he will try to put into motion, that give to big business and take from the little guys. What are your thoughts on the new majority government? How do you think it is going to affect our country? How do you think it will affect women, minorities and the poor? leave a post below with your thoughts.

Hi everybody,

Unfortunately I have been quite sick this weekend with a cold. Which means that I have spent more time sleeping then working on the blog. My brain does not seem to have many coherent thoughts this weekend, other then sleep and stop the coughing. So instead of a full fleshed out post I am going to pass along one last website to check out before the polls open tomorrow. The website is  and outlines some reasons that we need to get this man out of office and reiterate why it is so IMPORTANT to VOTE tomorrow. So that is my thoughts for the day and I hope you all join me at the polls tomorrow to try and make a serious change to our government.

{April 24, 2011}   Respect

Hi, this week I am facing the worst case of procrastination and writers block I have had since I started this blog, so I think it is going to be one of my shorter posts. What I want to talk about this week is how quick people are to judge without knowing the person they are judging. I have come across a few of these people at work this week, they speak without consideration of the other person, and they make judgements about their lives without knowing them. The people that I have seen doing it have been of a certain privileged economic class but I don’t think that they are the only people to judge others without knowing them. I find this troublesome from a feminist point of view because it is something that women face regularly and are aware of constantly.

It goes back, as it often does, to the Madonna/whore dichotomy. Women are constantly placed into these categories by people who do not know them personally. They are categorized because of their outfit or a comment overheard without context. A women who goes to a bar wearing a halter top is immediately categorized as a whore by people who see her out but do not know her. They have no concept that she might be a mother, a teacher, or someone who volunteers with a shelter; they just know that she is out dressed in a way that they categorize as whore in their mind. This is a problem because often times these women face harassment and sexual assault as a result of this stereotypes.

I know women who have been subjected to violence or sexual assault because some man has made a judgement call in a bar and decided that this woman is a whore and she doesn’t deserve respect. It is that people make these judgements without knowing the person they are making judgements about. The majority of the time I would say that these judgements are not trying to be harmful, but they could be hurtful if overheard by the person being spoken about. However, there are times where people take their own opinion to far and someone gets hurt in the process, when they don’t even know who that person is. So all I want to say this week is that the next time you decided to judge someone on their appearance, job or a comment you overhear be aware that you don’t know that person and that what you are saying about them can be hurtful. It all comes back to giving the same respect to others that you feel you deserve.

Hi everybody, this week I am going to be talking about the Canadian leadership debate that took place on April 12/2011, last Tuesday. The original reason that I picked this topic was that I was outraged that Elizabeth May; the leader of the green party was not being allowed to speak alongside the other four leaders. This is a political party with huge influence on the Canadian public, receiving 900,000 votes last election. However they were not given any seats in the house, unlike the bloc whose votes were not much higher but who received 50 seats in the house and run on a platform that only seeks to benefit one province in the country. In the debate this year Michael Ignatiff, leader of the liberal party, repeatedly stated that his government supported democracy while calling other leaders out for not recognizing it but he participated in a debate that clearly stood against the democratic process by excluding the leader of a popular party. However, Elizabeth May was not to be ignored a kept up real-time answers on-line and with the Vancouver sun that gave her responses to the questions posed. I also want to point out that Elizabeth May was the only one, on her blog, to ask questions about where women stood with the Canadian government.

While I watched the debate this year I was struck, as I usually am, by the blatant lies laid out by the candidates and mud slinging that happens. While I am happy to see Harper being called out by the other candidates for his secretive government and the financial ruin he has introduced to our country, the other candidates seemed to use this as a way to get around stating their own platforms. I want Harper to be held accountable for the mistakes he has made with his leadership of our country but I also want to know why I should vote for the other leaders. In Elizabeth May’s blog she had the opportunity to give short points that explained what the platform for her party was, she only used a few of these points to question Harper and the majority of them to explain what the green party would do if they got into office. Her real-time responses on-line during the debate made it clear why she should have been included in the group of leaders.

Stephen Harpers responses in the debate made it clear why he should not be re-elected. When asked questions about accountability for financial decisions that he has made he did not seem to have much of a response. He was unable to produce numbers for anything and blamed other people for not having those numbers. He continuously questioned and dismissed the numbers that the other leaders had to outline his failure as a prime minister. The most troubling responses he made I feel had to do with a question that stated: can minority governments work together to create a better results for the Canadian population? It was here that Harper made his power play for a majority government clear. He repeatedly stated that he needed a majority government and the reason seemed to be that he was clearly having trouble working with the minority government system and wants complete control, this showcases his lack of respect for the other parties. Having a majority Harper government would be a sad day to see, he already pushes his own agenda in parliament and blatantly lies to the Canadian citizens about his spending habits. He took a country with a surplus and made it into a deficit. He wasn’t called out about his treatment of women in the debate but it is easy to see, and I have written about it before, that his treatment towards women’s groups is poor and one of the first things he did getting into office was to cut funding to the only government funded women’s rights group. Also I was disappointed that there was not a more in depth discussion of his regulation of groups that go to other countries to provide aid. I would have liked to hear someone mention how he introduced the stipulation that Canada would not provide funding for abortion services in other countries because it does not fit with his moral code. Watching Harper debate by just deny the other parties accusations is something to be aware of because the current leader of our country seems unable to defend himself or explain his actions in a way that shows he should maintain leadership; If anything the debate made it even clearer why Harper needs to be removed from office.

The other three leaders in the debate though, didn’t leave me with confidence either. Ignatiff spent most of his time attacking Harper without explaining his own platform. Duceppe had a similar debate strategy, spending much of his time attacking Harper. When he wasn’t he was pushing his ambition for Quebec to be its own country. It surprises me that the leader of a party who clearly represents one province over the rest of Canada is allowed in the debate but they did not let Elizabeth May speak and her party is one that runs on behalf of the entire country and has a large amount of supporters. Layton was the one leader who I found it easiest to listen to, while he did spend a good amount of time questioning Harper he also tried to clearly lay out how the NDP would benefit the country if they were elected. I also liked that he didn’t bow out of the race like Duceppe did. Duceppe made the statement at one point that there was no chance that he or Layton would be getting into office but Layton refused to accept that comment. I think that it is very important that these people have confidence in their ability to lead and their desire to lead.

As I have stated a few times already in this blog women were clearly underrepresented in this debate. As a Canadian woman I would have liked to know how the government is going to represent me, especially since all the candidates in the debate are male. I wanted to know what kind of policies are being enacted around women’s rights or what policies have been taken away, which since Harper has come into power have been many. If he is given a majority government, he will try to push his moral agenda and view that women should be in the home and raising the children down the Canadian woman’s throat. I want a government that expands social assistance and makes it easier to access to and easier to get out from. I want a government that recognizes women have an important role in our country and give them a voice to speak instead of cutting funding to groups that speak on women’s behalf. I would like to see the only female candidate be allowed to speak at the same debate as the men and not in real time on her blog.

As a feminist it has always been my end goal that women achieve equality with and respect from their male counterparts. It is clear from the debate that women are not seen as an important part of Canadian society. We need to change that view and having Harper re-elected will take us further and further away from the important strides we have already made as women in this country. So on May 11, I will be voting for the green party because I truly believe that our country needs a serious change of direction away from giving tax cuts to big business and cutting funding to social assistance, women’s groups, healthcare, education and many other things. We need to pay attention because if we allow Harper back in office, we will be watching our country get destroyed. Everything that I am proud Canada stands for Harper is determined to destroy. So please vote on May 11 because we need to bring Canada back to its former glory not let it sink.

et cetera