This January, Shameless will publish its Labour Issue. We’re really excited about this but it’s also useful to think about the ways in which labour intersects with numerous issues. None of us exist in a vacuum—we are all works-in-progress that reflect specific communities and unique experiences—and labour is no different.
Throughout 2011, a pet media issue was income disparity between men and women. The Washington Post, for instance, reported that in 2010 the average starting salary of a woman with a BA was $36,451. Compare that to the average male’s starting salary of $44,159 —17% more.
This income disparity exists in Canada as well. According to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), women in this country earn 70.5 cents for every dollar men make. Moreover, this wage gap exists in retirement: 2008 findings showed that Canadian women 65 years and over, on average, received incomes that were 65% less than their male counterparts. The CLC goes on to say that “In 2004, 7.3% of retired women lived in poverty, more than double the rate of retired men. An astounding 45.6% of single, divorced or widowed elderly women lived in poverty, according to a 2004 study.”
I sincerely appreciate your open invitation to attend your event on this important issue, however, I find that I must respectfully decline.
As an activist with a complex identity, it is difficult for me to condone attending an event that, while seeking to explain and draw interest into a matter that is very near and dear to my heart, has managed to ensure that my participation in your event will be virtually impossible.
While I can appreciate that your event is being held in a wheelchair accessible venue, it is important to recognize that that in and of itself does not ensure that your event is indeed accessible. Had you publicized your event further than one week in advance I would have been able to contact you and request an interpreter in order for me to be able to attend. Additionally, while I appreciate that many events are being put together on a tight budget, when you inform me that your event is unable to provide interpretation services due to the cost required that tells me that there is a dollar figure attached to my participation, membership or sometimes allyship in this community. Furthermore, while attempts to find out if a video is captioned are appreciated, it would be best if that information was publicized on the event details. An even better response would be that upon finding out that a video is uncaptioned that the suitability of another video being shown was examined as well as banding together as an intersectional group to apply pressure to filmmakers to ensure that their videos are captioned and accessible.
As someone who identifies as genderqueer, there are also additional barriers to my participation. (more inside…)
In April I made a short film for a class project exploring my love for moustaches and the pressure I feel to remove my natural facial hair. It was quite possibly one of the most empowering things I have ever done: to pick up a camera, create a narrative, edit film and have my own self-told-story shown on a TV screen.
The Spotlight on Muslim and Arab Women’s Stories features free screenings of six feature-length films and is co-sponsored by various Ryerson University departments and faculties.
Some of the other screenings include:
• Unveiled Views – Muslim Women Artists Speak Out (2009, Director: Alba Sotorra), a documentary that follows five Muslim women artists from Turkey, Bosnia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran as they discuss their aspirations and the rights and status of women in their countries. • Round Trip (2010, Director: Golkou Parhizgar), a documentary inspired by director’s experience of returning to Iran after 11 years of living in the UK and rediscovering relationships of those left behind. All of the films are being screened at Toronto’s Carlton Cinemas (20 Carlton St.).
One of the best things about the Spotlight on Muslim and Arab Women’s Stories is that all of the film screenings are free. All you have to do is e-mail email@example.com to reserve a seat. Click here for a complete schedule.
To kick-start the festivities, there’s a free film event at Carleton Cinemas on Thursday starting at 5 p.m., featuring a screening of the film Forget Baghdad, a documentary following four Iraqi Jews living in exile in Israel who negotiate between their Arab and Jewish cultures. The screening is followed by a talk by academic Dr. Ella Shohat, from New York University.
To say I’m excited to be a part of this roster of amazing films and women directors is an understatement. My short film is being screened twice, once on Friday at 9 p.m. before the documentary Les Secrets and on Sunday at 6 p.m. before the documentary Round Trip .
Check out this preview of Unveiled Views – Muslim Women Artists Speak Out:
On May 26th, Spencer Chandra Herbert, the NDP MLA (Member of the legislative assembly*) for Vancouver-West End, introduced in the legislature a member’s bill intituled Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act, 2011.
The Act would ensure that the B.C. Human Rights Code explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination. Under the legislation, “gender identity” and “gender expression” would be prohibited grounds for discrimination. As a prohibited ground, employers, health professionals, landlords or other business owners could not use gender identity and gender expression as the means to deny service or housing to transgender people. It would also signal to the general public that transgender people have the same rights as cis-people under the law to live and work free from fear and discrimination.
There is something I would like to share with all of you, readers. I’d like to talk about a conversation I had this past week with a new coworker and friend, J. During our dinner hour (as J and I munched on some delicious falafels and chicken kebabs), we began to discuss how certain persons at work appear or act uncomfortable around J.
To provide some background, J and I work as ushers/concession at a theatre venue located in downtown Toronto. Most of us are just getting to know each other and J is an intelligent, fantastically outgoing and friendly person. He also loves to wear makeup and nail polish, to talk about flat-ironing his hair (and how it might be misbehaving that day) and is open and all-embracing about being gay.
J is not a caricature and there are several overlapping issues at work here, but I feel that the negative reactions are predominantly stemming from his transgressions of accepted gender and sexual norms. There is also something else happening here and I think that it has to do with the pervasiveness of gender norms and assumptions around the liberal arts. There exists a societal assumption that the liberal arts and the work environments they provide are intrinsically more liberal, open-minded or accepting of differences in comparison to other work environments. While this assumption may be true to certain extents and with regards to particular issues (such as the importance of the arts), the securitization of J’s appearance has made me question such an assumption.
It appears that a boy’s love of pink has others seeing a different colour.
Originally, I had planned on discussing Bill C-389 in this column. That was until Julia Horel-O’Brien sent me a link to the reactions a J. Crew email mailer (aka advertisement) has garnered since being sent to customers on April 5th (the advert is now available on the J. Crew website under the feature Jenna’s picks).
The layout Saturday with Jenna showcases the company’s president and creative director Jenna Lyons and her five-year-old son Beckett spending time together and going “off duty in style”. In one image from the advert, a smiling Jenna is seen holding Beckett’s feet in her lap. Beckett, appearing to be having a laugh, is sporting painted toenails in a rather fetching neon pink colour. Under the headline “Quality Time”, Lyons is quoted: “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”