February 17, 2007 • Wesley Fok
December 31, 2006 • Thea Lim
We’ve chatted about cultural appropriation a few times on our blog (see here and here!) So when I came across this highlarious video from the British TV show Goodness Gracious Me I was thrilled - it’s an extremely positive example of a way in which the super-complex topic of cultural appropriation can be attacked with humour instead of, you know, crying.
Happy New Year!
December 5, 2006 • Nicole Cohen
It seems like this year has been a particularly violent one for women in Canada — violent in the public sense, at least. From Stephen Harper’s recent slashing of funding and closing of offices at Status of Women Canada to Peter McKay’s public denigrating of Belinda Stronach (and the ensuing women-hating remarks from the likes of Norman Spector) to the ongoing disappearance of Aboriginal women. At my university, there has been a string of sexual assaults and muggings on campus that the administration has seemed to keep very quiet about, presumably not wanting to attract attention to crime on campus, leaving organizing around this issue to campus groups like the Centre for Women and Trans People.
This excellent piece, linked from the Canadian Dimension site, briefly covers the Montreal Massacre and outlines some of the very important reasons we need to mark December 6th as a day of awareness of the violence inflicted daily upon women in Canada (see, for example, this list of women killed in Toronto this year), not to mention around the world.
Heres a list of events and memorials coming up in Toronto, feel free to post events and memorials happening in your city or town. And heres information about a Dec. 10 action in Ottawa to protest the cuts to Status of Women.
October 31, 2006 • Catherine Hayday
…it’s also about the candy.
This recipe is very compatible with vegan substitutions - a little soy milk, sweetener, and egg replacer and they turn out beautifully. They’re also particularly tasty if you’re using organic and fair trade ingredients. An organic fair trade cupcake is an empowered cupcake.
October 16, 2006 • Nicole Cohen
Ive always been skeptical of American Apparel, the L.A.-based chain that sells plain clothes that claim to be sweatshop free, marketed to hipsters through often creepy, sexed-up photos of supposed real people, sold in stores that claim to be community galleries.
Before opening actual stores, AA sold blank T-shirts in bulk to bands who, concerned about selling merch made in sweatshops, could print their logo/image/photos on them to sell at shows. When stores proper started opening, a big deal was made about the companys political mandate: cool (overpriced) clothes with a conscious. However, it quickly became apparent that the politics of AAs notorious, obnoxious owner, Dov Charney, were disingenuous.
While its true that AAs clothes are manufactured in downtown L.A., where employees earn about $12 an hour on average (as opposed to most of the U.S.s clothing, which is manufactured in countries where labour can be exploited for much lower wages), AA is hostile to employees organizing for job security and against the speed of work and layoffs. When employees tried to form a union, the company unleashed an intimidation campaign that mirrored the aggressive union-busting techniques of other major manufacturers (this may not be surprising considering that Charney got his first real job when he crossed a picket line to work during a postal workers strike.)
And then there are Charneys sexist antics, which have been widely reported. This includes the companys exclusive hiring practices in its stores, Charney masturbating in front of a reporter interviewing him for Jane magazine, and three sexual harassment suits filed against him by former female employees.
Theres more, and some of these issues and contradictions about AA are covered in a great spread in Clamor magazine.
October 5, 2006 • Kat Siddle
A lot of us feel pretty depressed and maybe even a little threatened right now, so here’s something to soothe you just a little, maybe:
NPR.org has posted the audio from a wonderful, 80-minute concert by Regina Spektor, performing at Washington DCs 9:30 Club. Ive become increasingly fond of Spektors most recent albums, 2004s Soviet Kitsch and 2006s Begin to Hope, but even so, this concert surprised me.
She starts out with a handful of tracks that I didnt recognize (perhaps from her earlier, self-released albums?) and really hits her stride after abot 33 minutes with a heart-stopping redition of Apres Moi that features some lovely Russian-language singing. If youre just looking for an introduction to Spektor, fast-forward to the encore, where she lays down favourite after favourite, much to the audiences delight. Her vocals are perhaps even better live than on record. I often get the sense that singing is some kind of serious play for Spektor: she blows through her anti-folk with an exuberance and child-like (and most unladylike) love of vocal noises that set her apart in that melodic sea of female singer-songwriters.
But I think my real favourite thing about this show is the high-pitched screaming before Spektor walks on stage. You can totally tell that the audience is like 98% girls.
October 3, 2006 • Zoe Cormier
Violent boys have been all over the news lately. Kevin Madden sentenced for first-degree murder for stabbing his 12-year-old brother 71 times in a quiet Toronto suburb. A 19-year-old in North Carolina killed his father and then randomly shot at students at a nearby high school last month. Early in September, Kimveer Gill shot 20 people at Dawson College, killing one innocent girl. A 15-year-old Wisconsin boy shot his school principal in cold blood last week. Two days before that Duane Morrison, a 53-year-old drifter, held six high school girls hostage for hours, sexually assaulting them before killing one (and then himself).
And now milk truck driver Charles Carl Roberts has shot 10 Amish girls in a one-room school house in Pennsylvania. He did the exact same thing that Morrison did he sent all the boys out of the classroom and focused his malice solely on the girls. Just like the infamous misogynist Marc Lépine did at the Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. And its apparent, based on the lube he was carrying and from what he told his wife, that Roberts was planning on molesting the girls (anybody surprised?).
There have been a lot of school shootings over the years. I remember coming home from school when I was 16 to see footage from Columbine on CNN, and crying. There have been a lot of shootings since then but I cant remember one single incident where the shooter was a girl. Not one. Ive looked all over the internet trying to find an example, and Ive come up empty handed. If you can name just one, just one, let me know.
When youre faced with horrific incidents like these and when the killer shoots girls, and only girls its really hard not to spend an afternoon thinking that there is something deeply, darkly twisted in the male psyche.
In an effort to do away with racial and sexual prejudice, progressive thinking people nowadays like to believe that everybody is really the same, that its just society and culture that make us different. But on days like today, its really hard to buy that.
There is no good evidence that racial differences have any real biological influence on your personality or intelligence. But the same cannot be said of gender - men and women are not the same. We arent. Not just in the shape of our bodies, but in the actual way our brains work. It would take many blog entries to go through all the differences, but this article lists a few. Suffice to say, men and women are equal, but we are not the same.
When I talk with friends about the prevalence of misogyny in our culture, I like to bring out this famous statistic: one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lives. All my girlfriends silently nod we know from the intimate conversations we have when boys arent around that this is true. But all the guys in the room scoff and say it must be an exaggeration.
So I bring out another famous statistic. In 1990 sex researchers Randy and Nancy Thornhill asked the following question of a large number of men: If you could rape a woman, knowing with certainty that there would be no chance you would get caught and no one would ever find out, would you commit the act? In one of those surveys, 35 per cent of the men said yes. And as they say, rape is not about sex its about power, the same kind of power people who shoot innocent children are seeking.
When school shootings happen the media likes to blame video games, goth metal music, poor gun laws, and parents who just dont raise their kids right. Of course culture and society have a massive influence on what we think, feel, and do. But if you took all the video games and movies away, boys would still be more prone to violent behaviour than girls. Its that simple. Im not saying men are evil not at all. Nor am I saying girls dont ever murder or rape women can be sadistic too.
All Im saying is that theres a reason why whenever you hear about a school shooting on the news, you dont even have to look at the TV to know what the sex of the gunman is. And most of the time, you can probably guess the sex of the victims too.
October 2, 2006 • Holland Gidney
In case you haven’t yet tried stencilling as per the instructions on pages 36-37 of the most recent issue of Shameless because you can’t find freezer paper, which is something we had trouble with when we did the photo shoot for the article (yes, those are my fingers tracing letters and using the stencil brush!), check out the Toronto Craft Alert’s Ask Crafty answers from September 8th.
PS - We’d love to hear how your stencilling turns out!
September 27, 2006 • Kat Siddle
According to pitchforkmedia.com, Chicks on Speed’s Alex-Murray Leslie has put together a new 3CD compilation that “celebrates and reclaims music-by-women in several landmark ways”. I have mixed feelings about Chicks on Speed, and I know some of us were burned by the “Women and Songs” series (not to mention the dismal imitators that followed). But Girl Monsteras this compilation is calledlooks pretty stellar. It has an intriguing mix of musicians from a variety of genres and decades, and a bunch of previously unreleased tracks. I haven’t been this excited since the first volume of Alright, This Time Just the Girls!
Track listing, release date, and more information here
September 12, 2006 • Kat Siddle
Feminists (and academics) have long had a reputation for being dry and humourless, which is why I love things like Cat and Girl.
Cat and Girl is a wordy, nerdy webcomic made by a grad student named Dorothy, who manages to transform complex academic theory into appealing panels and hilariously half-sensical dialogue. Imagine a Cultural Studies textbook acted out by a cartoon girl and a large anthropomorphic cat.
Check out Cat and Girls interpretation of Feminisms Supposed Victory in Mainstream Society