Sometimes when you write opinion pieces, you spend time trying to argue why something is a bad thing. Every now and then, though, you can just lay out a few facts and that pretty much proves your point.

Daryush Valizadeh aka Roosh V is professional pick-up artist (PUA), Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) and touring speaker. Oh, one more thing: he wants to decriminalize rape on private property.

He’s in Montreal to give a talk and if you don’t see a huge problem with that or with what he argues for, then there’s something wrong with you. You’re part of the problem.

According to a blog post on his site Return of Kings (no, I will not link to that site, Google it if you must), Roosh argues that legalising rape on private property will force women to take “greater responsibility for their own safety and security.” He goes on to say that “if rape becomes legal, she will never be unchaperoned with a man she doesn’t want to sleep with.”

There’s misogyny, really bad misogyny and then there’s Roosh V.

Response Gets A Response

This is Montreal, a city that doesn’t stand for the type of crap that Roosh V is spewing for a ticket price ranging between $47 and $87. Understandably, response started with a petition to block his entry into Canada and a protest planned if that petition failed to achieve his goal, which, sadly, it did. On Thursday, reports  surfaced of him being spotted in the Plateau and on Friday he confirmed to a Quebec City radio station that he has been in Montreal since Monday.

Protesters successfully got his intended venue to cancel the event. Now, though, Roosh and his troll army are fighting back.

Their first move was to post the names of those who signed the petition. Let that sink in for a moment. If you sign an online petition, you are already agreeing to your name being posted online endorsing what the petition does. To copy those names, repost them as people supporting the petition and thinking that you are somehow outing those people takes a special type of ignorance.

The next move, though, this time by Roosh himself, is considerably more vile and dangerous. He asked his followers to Facebook stalk the women who started the petition against him as well as a Journal de Montreal journalist who published the venue info, which presumably led to the cancellation.

He wants info. He wants to make their lives hell by contacting their employers, friends and family. Now what he hopes to accomplish with this can only be one thing: intimidation.

I can only guess that the reaction of friends, family and employers of people who are against legalizing rape would be one of support for their friends, family and employees and utter disgust at the person contacting them to somehow shame their acquaintance.

The thought of this contact being made, though, can be jarring.

Making His Opponents’ Case for Them

With these actions, Roosh is proving that he much more than just a hypothetical threat to people in Montreal. He is effectively making the case for those who want to keep him out of the country.

Not only has he advocated for legal rape, he has directly encouraged stalking and harassment of specific women. That’s grounds to call him a threat as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he is a terrorist.

#findrooshv

instagram roosh vOne of the first Roosh sightings came courtesy of St-Denis café L’Artiste Affamé on their Instagram page. Roosh had stopped in for a coffee and someone snapped a pic and posted it with this caption: “Girls your main man is here. Roosh V! In the flesh. Should be here til 9 if you wanna show your undying “love” for the dickbag. The door’s open. Make it count MTL!”

Now, it appears his minions are targeting their Yelp page with fake reviews. Meanwhile, others are throwing them support online and promises of “throwing money” at them when they get the chance.

They also seem to be the inspiration behind the #findrooshv hashtag. Now people who encouter him have a mission: let people know where this unwanted guest is so they can watch out or speak out.

Not Ready for Montreal

Roosh encouraged his supporters to take over the protest event page. If you look at the comments his supporters posted, or just take my word for it so you don’t have to read that bile, you’ll see that only one of the trolls who actually commented pro-Roosh was from Montreal.

That makes perfect sense. We Montrealers may have our differences, but one thing is true of almost all of us: we don’t put up with the kind of horseshit Roosh V spews. Not only are we social media savvy, but we’re also, at the core, progressive. Feminism isn’t a dirty word here.

Roosh will realize this very soon if he hasn’t already. This is not the town for him. If he goes to war in Montreal, he will lose. Maybe he doesn’t care, and as one observer commented, is just using the negative reaction agianst his presence to sell future books.

Whether a public rejection of Roosh V in Montreal only helps him has yet to be seen, but regardless I think it’s important to show him that he’s not welcome in this town. He also makes me and my fellow men look bad. I hope he crawls back under whatever rock he came from and disappears.

If anyone reading this was planning to go to his talk, just know that everyone knows what he is about. He can’t teach you anything about picking up women, only how to hate them. If the sheer bile that this individual spews doesn’t turn you off right away, you should probably get help. But, for the time being, just know that showing up may end your chances of getting laid in this city forever.

Earlier this month, social media exploded when pop singer Ariana Grande posted an empowering essay she wrote about male and female double standards, following her highly publicized breakup from rapper Big Sean. She took to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to talk about one of many examples of double standards, whether a woman is in a relationship or just dating someone. She says: “If a woman has sex, she’s a s**t. If a man has sex, he’s a stud, a boss, a king.”

In today’s world, it is unfortunate that society still looks down on women for a number of reasons. We are constantly being judged about our looks, being assertive, and the main one, having too many ‘sexual’ partners. If only I can count the number of times I’ve heard men referring to women as being loose because of how many guys they’ve been with or dated, but yet they want to marry a woman who has been untouched.

If we thought the same way that men think, we wouldn’t marry 90 percent of them in this world. If they’re allowed to have an active sex life, why aren’t we allowed to do the same?

Grande also mentions that she’s tired of living in a world where the girl is known as a guy’s property or possession. Why must we be seen as a prize or a trophy? So they can show us off and brag about us to their buddies?

Speaking from my own personal experience, that is just disrespectful. After her split from the famous rapper, the songstress was known to the media as Big Sean’s ex’ She responds to that by saying she does not belong to anyone but herself.

She’s focused on making good music and is having the best time of her life while being on tour. Did I happen to mention she’s only 21 years old?!

I’ve got to hand it to this girl! Being in the spotlight and having people watch your every move is tough as it is. Obviously fame comes with a price and public figures need to accept that, but not many have the courage to speak up.

Ariana did just that but in a more polite and mature way, and expressing her feelings through social media was a good way to go. She even got the support from fellow artists Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez who both tweeted about the topic.

If you ask me, I give this essay a well deserved A+.

Here’s her full essay:

I remember my first music festival. It was Lilith Fair, the late/mid nineties, and I was around 8 or 9 years old. Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLaughlin, Fiona Apple, Lisa Loeb and soooo many more! All the female power was exhilarating. Less superficial than the “Girl Power” of the Spice Girls (don’t get me wrong, I fucking LOVE the Spice Girls). Free spirited feminists, many with armpit hair, ruled the audience. My eyes were open to a whole world of strength, celebration, and raw positivity lead by real live women. I was hooked.

Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill.
Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill.

It wasn’t long until I discovered Riot Grrrl music: Bikini Kill, L7, Sleater Kinney, and Bratmobile being my favorites. Kathleen Hanna is an absolute goddess. I also adore the obviously Riot Grrrl influenced Gwen Stephani of No Doubt, and Beth Ditto of the Gossip as truly kick ass leading ladies. These bands all brought light to the issues of rape, domestic violence, smashing patriarchy, sexuality, racism, and other socially taboo progressive feminist topics. Girls to the front! Fists in the air! Mini dresses and combat boots galore! I was recently at the Dyke March afterparty and was so moved by all of the female bands. Buffalo also has Vaggie Fest, an all female punk music festival.

Unfortunately not all music festivals or music venues these days are as female powered as I would like. I’ve seen several blogs where they remove the all male bands from the poster and it is always depressingly scarce. I wondered why this was happening? Why is the music industry so male dominated?

I sat down with three extremely unique and talented female musicians, Ellen Pieroni, Erica Wolfling, and Lindsay Zasada, and I made them brunch. Over our pink champagne mimosas and a literal meat fest we discussed what it’s like to be a girl in the primarily male dominated music world. These women have proved that they are more then just tits, an ass, and legs.

Ellen Pieroni

Ellen is in many bands including The Ellen Pieroni Quartet, The Folkfaces, and Blue Stone Groove.

“Things are happening to me recently where I have been getting gigs solely for being a woman saxophone player. I literally got called by a woman from out of town who has never heard me play before and she hired me for a gig just because I was a woman, I want people to hire me because I’m good saxophone player,” Ellen says.

“The one problem and I always get from everyone is like ‘Oh it’s so nice to see a woman up there playing the sax, I love seeing a woman do that.’ People mean well saying that so you have to take it as compliment because they are genuinely are trying to being nice. Compisults ‘your tone is so feminine’ – the sad part is that most time it’s women who say this stuff. It stems from the general lack of female musicians. I’m the hottest girl in my band – did I mention I’m in a band with 4 other guys? I’m in a few bands with all guys with the exception of one girl, the incredible singer in Blue Stone Groove.”

“I don’t think women should ever be discouraged . A lot of women are afraid to join a band and gig. You must go outside of your comfort zone . Mostly only little boys are being handed the sax and not girls in school. It is discouraging early on especially.”

“Join the army of female musicians! When you see another one you get excited. In Buffalo State College right now there. equal amount of girls playing sax so I hope things are changing.”

We then discussed how women are often over sexualized on stage. They are forced to be the center of attention whether they like it or not. The girls are always staged in front because sex sells. Gotta have that hot stage show wearing tight leather pants and a low cut shirt or the teeniest of dresses. Do I have to dress this way to be successful?

“Just in general I don’t like wearing a lot of clothing, it’s for me not anyone else. I’m not part of the scenery. You can be an incredible musician but still seen as just a sex object No matter how good I get they will always see me that way. Sax is a sexy instrument it’s not my fault.”

Featured photo is a shot of Ellen Pieroni performing.

Erica Wolfling

Erica Wolfling is a singer, songwriter, pianist, and an ice dragon. Her voice is like Regina Spektor and Tori Amos had a baby.

“I don’t sing about sex. I sing about mental illness and sexual domestic violence. Feel things and emotions for the music I sing and write, not about my body. You are putting yourself out there. Here are my emotions and I can’t do it in any other way. I’m doing it in front of a room full of people and all you see is my boobs,” Erica says.

“How people perceive women is the problem. Everyone just puts boobs on their music. There is a sadness when they compliment my looks but not the sound, just dismissing the reason I am up there. It will never end! In my professional life too: A man once said to me that ‘it’s been a business doing pleasure with you.’ I’m not just this cute girl. I’m a smart woman who learned this hard thing that you don’t know. Fucking respect me.”

Erica Wolfling performing.
Erica Wolfling performing.

“I don’t want to be a rockstar with a harem. It’s more like ‘Thanks guys gonna go upstairs and hide now.’ I never take anyone home, I take myself home, thank you.”

“I have this hot mesh and leather dress and a guy outside one if my shows said ‘You shouldn’t be wearing that, you will entice so many men.’ Oh rape culture. Other men say he’s just protecting me and women are enraged.”

“It’s important to wear clothes I can I breathe in. Why did I think it was ok to wear Spanx to perform? Now I don’t even wear a bra half the time because I don’t want boob sweat. Comfort over sex appeal all the way. I’ve never had people treat me like this before. I was a late bloomer. Then, when they whistle to you on stage, it’s creepy. Being objectified is so strange. I’m treated differently after losing weight. ‘You look really good now. You are really attractive now. I would date you now.’ I’m not insecure, just detached from it. It’s all about self projection and being comfortable in your own skin. It takes a long time to get there.”

Lindsay Zasada

Lindsay Zasada

Lindsay Zasada sings and plays a variety of instruments from guitar, to ukulele, and electric violin. She was once in an all girl band called The Cunning Stunts. Her newest band is called West Side Bike Ride, all females and one male, a little different perspective. She says being in bands with girls is empowering but can also be volatile.

“I’ve never had weird competition due to gender, just people who play the same instrument. It’s important to play unique instruments. Unconventional ensembles… Fuck yea! Women should not be scared to pick up any instrument and play.”

“There is nothing wrong with being sexy! Lindsay Sterling made tons of money selling her body, not saying she isn’t beautiful and talented but the sex appeal is definitely a focus for her.”

“A lot of people think it’s about attention. I’d rather play my music and not be popular. All the guys are like it’s not that bad.”

“Sexism infiltrates all parts of life don’t take music from me too bro! Music is beautiful and genderless, the person who is delivering it to you shouldn’t dictate whether you like it. I just wanna play! It’s not just in my head. It’s good to know we are all having the same experience.”

 

I first picked up Adeena Karasick’s book of poetry (one of her nine books), Dysemia Sleaze, back in 2006. I picked it without even knowing what the book was about or who it was written by.

I liked the title, though. I knew I was reading something next level. It was like mathematics in words and symbols. It all made some intuitive sense before I could actually make sense of it.

Almost a decade later, in the quest for knowledge of self and existential liberation from Babylon, while working on a farm in BC, I sought the opportunity to build with the Kabbalist, mystic, scholar, international poet and multi-media artist.

I had just read her her latest book titled This Poem. I wanted to learn some science from her about language, technology and the Kabbala. As I anticipated, Karasick dropped that knowledge.

Jesse Chase: You’re a feminist poet so I want to ask: does language have the ability to combat patriarchy? And would you make a distinction between feminism and a radical feminism?

Adeena Karasick: This Poem (Talonbooks, 2012) is a deeply ironic, self reflexive mash up re-inscribing subjectivity as a kind of contemporary archive of cultural fragments: updates, analysis, aggregates, contradictory trends, threads, webbed networks of information, the language of the ‘ordinary” and the otherness of daily carnage.

The self becomes a kind of euphoric recycling of information (shards, sparks) and thus speaks to how we are continually reinvented through recontextualization, collision, juxtapositions of defamiliarity as we process and re-process information.

Is this radically feminist? Perhaps in the way radical poetics is, in the tradition of the avant-garde foregrounding fragmented identities, irony, skepticism, a sense of self as other or outsider, a distrust of the literal, and belief in a tradition that questions rather than answers — As per “radical” i think its useful to think about it as a radical number, which is both rational and irrational, relational. And if radical comes from the Latin radicalis “of roots” I am committed to a writing where roots are re-routed, detour and “dangle”…

I’m particularly interested in ways language can both express and alter meaning; how we use language, masage its affect, shapes the way we think, breathe, behave. Thus, most of my project engages language in a way that undermines, questions or problematizes any kind of patriarchal premise – that there is a message, that can be clearly communicated, transmitted, that there is some truth outside of language, structures of logic, borders, orders, laws, flaws, codes— rather my work opens up a space that celebrates slippage, ellipses; all that is unsaid through veiling and unveiling, a multiplicitous heterogeny of ever-increasing otherness.

So yes, a highly feminist act – of intervention, disruption dissent where the discourse is all rapturously fractured and fraught with fission, elision. Not marked by censoring but by sensors, a re-sensed sensorium of incendiary sonorities.

What you say in ‘memewars’ of “read backwards or forwards, it re-interprets itself in an infinite process of self-replicating metastability through a virally multiplicitous linguistic praxis…Mem…signifies a hermeneutic process through its name.” Can we abstractly play ‘deconstruct the name’ as a sort of activity? Infinitely re-interpreting itself ‘through its name’. Do you care to riff off this? Is it a thought provoking device or activity? Like the Kabbala?

Whether you call it Kabbalistically-infused semiotic analyses or deconstructive investigations, meaning is always hiding in the words themselves. So, I don’t know if it’s a device per se, a methodology, a hermeneutic practice, but I can say that I spend an inordinate amount of my life recombining the alphabet, wearing it as a series of labyrinthian veils, inhabiting it as an ideological emporium of self replicating metastability that houses all potential meaning.

As evidenced per se with the 231 cycles of meaning in the Sefer Yetzirah:

Gates

Everything is connectable, dissectible, detectable. So, yes through the work, there is nothing I love better than the explosive jouissance of simultaneous reference whether it be cycling through dictionary definitions of words etymologies, phonetics, graphic resonances, social, political and cultural traces cycling through webs of knowledge structures, naming and renaming through synonymy, ignonymy homonymy, hymnonomy, anonymy…

Take my 1994 title Meme wars. Mem (or mayim, (water), referencing all that flows, is the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, appears in the middle. Kabbalistically read, (joined with the first and last letters of the alphabet), Alef Mem Tav, spells out truth:

Adeena Karasick 2

Mem shows how truth is always constructed in process. And moreover as the center of the alphabet, it highlights how it’s always found in the middle of language; en medias. And if the medium is the message, Mem stands in for the Law of the excluded middle, that center is always a myth, is a process of dissent, and speaks to ever-shifting perspectives.

Another linguistic echo comes through the French word, mêm(e). Meme is the self same. The same and the same is always other. This referencing a meme as a unit of culture energy virally replicating itself in and through language.

Though I must say, in 1994, when I wrote Meme wars, in no way did we know what the explosion of the internet meme as we now know it would be. All to say, that even the word itself (in whatever language) inscribes how we can never fully replicate anything but infinitely interpretive and re-generative. Re-invented. Made new. In a complex of simulacric echolalia.

Do you think the Kabbalistic logic of ‘creative misreading’ effectively challenges the ‘frame’ in a way that can be applied to a “new art” — a(e)s(th)et(ic)?

Well, like in Derridean deconstruction, which is not so much an anarchic free play of signification but questions the foundations of thinking praxis, reading from specific lenses, perspectives, codes, acknowledging we are never separate from them, Kabbalistic hermeneutics isn’t exactly “creative misreading”, as there is a system of reading called PARDES (paradise) where one spirals through the literal, metaphorical, analogic and secret/hidden layers of interpretation. Cycles through syntactic axis, gates of entry and resistance.

Does it offer a frame that can be applied to art? Absolutely. Endless analysis, interpretation begets further interpretation, re-visitation provokes different readings, spurring new understandings of the wor(l)d. For Kabbalists, Creation was enacted through the letters. The Midrash describes God “looking into the Torah to Create the World,”  and with every reading, we re-enact this process of creation or re-framation as the case may be.

And as such, it becomes a highly political act as it combats any reductive settling into an overarching unsubstantiated mode of reading, and instead points to ways we may enter into a fluid space of ever-generative explosive meaning, acknowledging the ideological codes and lenses from which we are actively interpreting from, however slippery and elusive and shifting they may be. And perhaps this is where aesthetics / ethics elide —

Would you have any suggestions as to how we could redefine what’s generally not considered technological, i.e. logic and language, and invent an activity that would itself be the redefining exercise, like the Kabbalah for example. Something that techno-poetically redistributes aesthetic values and disrupts technopoly. In other words, do you think we can use the seemingly negative attributes of a ‘technopoly’ to our advantage? And if so, how?

For me, language is a technology and at bottom is a prime mover in the re-distributes of aesthetic values. But, with that said, digital media allows me certain other freedoms and axis of entry. Unbound, it foregrounds the materiality of language in a virtual arena of eroticism, a freedom of acoustic and image and visual fragmentation bifurcation foregrounding the slipperiness of meaning.

Increasingly I am playing within this field — whether it’s the construction of videopoems (lingual Ladies, I got a Crush on Osama or incorporating filmic projections in my recent Salome project (where in collaboration with Abigail Child, mashed up the 1921 Charles Bryant film with my text overlaid), or my recent obsession, pechakuchas:

Also check out: Ceçi n’est pas un Telephone or hooked on Telephonic and BACK IN THE O.S.V.R.: THE GHOST IS THE MACHINE

Incorporating voice and text and image and animation, gifs and sound poetry, is an analytical meditation on the relationship between technology and spirituality in contemporary media; highlighting how the mystical and the machine are not oppositional, but that “all media are extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes and transform our environment” (McLuhan) and opens not a physical vs. metaphysical, but ‘pataphysical space reminding us how language and thereby all knowledge is spectral, virtual, simulacric. Technopolis. A virtual city to live in.

Most people go through their lives, believing in ideals, yet never taking any action. They simply go with the flow of the world, not caring where history might take them. Others, however, wish to alter that flow. They do not believe that their fate is set in stone, and they dare to change it – make it better.

Grace Lee Boggs is such a person. Born in 1915, Grace experienced the entirety of the twentieth century in the United States. She is a Marxist theoretician and a Black Power activist, who worked closely with the likes of C. L. R. James. She also worked with James Boggs, who later became her husband. She has lived in Detroit for more than 50 years and considers that place to be better, in some ways, than cities like New York.

“I feel so sorry for people who’re not living in Detroit. Detroit gives a sense of epochs of civilization, in a way that you don’t get in a city like New York. I mean, it’s obvious, by looking at it, what was doesn’t work,” she says in American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, a 2013 documentary directed by Grace Lee.

Filmmaker Grace Lee met the activist Grace Lee Boggs about a decade ago, when she was working on another documentary she called The Grace Lee Project. Essentially, the purpose of the earlier project was to meet with other Asian American women, who share the common name, and define a common set of stereotypes that have come to be associated with the name Grace Lee.

In that sense, American Revolutionary is a result of Lee serendipitously meeting Grace and being especially impressed by her. After all, Grace is a 99-year-old woman, yet still is more energetic, more active, and more passionate than most young people I know. Hearing her ideas in the documentary definitely made me question certain things I thought were always a given.

In the documentary, Grace says “You begin with a protest, but you have to move on from there. Just being angry, just being resentful, just being outraged does not constitute revolution.” Coming from a person who has been married to a Black Panther, whom the FBI has classified as a ‘rabble-rouser,’ and who has favoured Malcolm X over Martin Luther King Jr., this statement is highly interesting. Is it that after decades of struggle, Grace has lost her interest in violent struggle, or is it that she has acquired wisdom that may be still hidden from us?

Grace herself answers that question in American Revolutionary. The documentary is structured in such a way that it is a biography of Grace Lee Boggs, and an essay on her philosophy at the same time. Admittedly, the documentary attempts a monumental task: Fitting almost a century of self-reflection, contemplation, and theorizing into 82 minutes. To be fair, I do not think any documentary could do this task proper justice. However, I do think that it comes pretty close.

Cinema Politica will be screening American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs on Monday, April 13 at 7 P.M. at Concordia University. If you are still asking yourself what revolution means to you, if you are still asking yourself what your collective struggle means to you, the life of Grace Lee Boggs will definitely get you thinking. You might not find the answers you’re looking for, but perhaps you might discover new directions.

Harper stood up in the house this past week and said with great conviction that the Niqab “was rooted in a culture that is anti-women.’’ This statement was the climax of the ludicrous debate about the Niqab that this country has been engulfed in for the past few weeks. Another chapter in the ongoing saga of the usage of demagogic discourse, fear, xenophobia and the intermingling of three that certain Canadian political parties have promoted for the past few years.

Just to clear the air, because tension has been ripe about this issue especially within our beautiful province of Quebec, the Niqab isn’t a ludicrous debate because of the nature of the debate itself, it’s ludicrous because of the political recuperation it has been a victim of. And the ridiculousness of this whole debate can be summarized in two simple questions: Since when has our prime minister become an ardent defender of women’s rights? Since when has feminism been the motto of the Harper administration.

In an ideal world, this Conservative government would have called an inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women the minute they took office. They would have put in place a framework that made sure that economic and social inequality between genders would be addressed in a serious manner and not just hyperbolically. They would have put an emphasis on tackling violence against women in all of its forms, in supporting women’s shelters Canada-wide and organizations that fight for women’s reproductive rights.

FEMINISM

In an ideal world, Harper would have made reference in one of his crown speeches to the plight of single working mothers and created initiatives to make sure no single mother and no child would live in poverty in this country.  In an ideal Canada, Stephen Harper would’ve put an end to the deportations of mothers without status and call for “regularisation” of all mothers without status.

But that’s merely an ‘ideal’ world and unfortunately the Canada of Stephen Harper is the polar opposite of that ideal. We live in a country where more than 1200 aboriginal women are missing and murdered while the Canadian government defacto institutionalized violence against women by stating that it wasn’t a priority. We live in a country where inequality between genders is growing at a rampant pace, where violence against women is on a steady rise even though “this Conservative government has been the most for women in the history of the Confederation.’’

So we must ask ourselves why all of a sudden this call to defend the cause of feminism? Has Harper finally come to realize that deep down inside he’s truly a feminist? Has being the father of a brilliant, beautiful, daughter finally made him come to that conclusion?

Nah… scrap that! This is part of Harper’s new little scheme to build on the heritage of the Charter of Values, a strategy of using the supposed fight against discrimination as a Trojan Horse to promote another form of discrimination.

This strategy has been used by different political parties in past few years. First it was the Front National in France. The most homophobic party in France supposedly did a 180 and “became” the valiant defenders of the rights of the French LGBTQ community against Islamic fundamentalism, while still being against Gay marriage. In Quebec, all of a sudden, a Parti Quebecois that had imposed austerity measures that affected women most became the ardent defender of feminism against, once again, Islamic fundamentalism.

And now, in Ottawa, the Conservative government has used on several occasions the argument of feminism to promote its xenophobic agenda. The most ironic thing is that we are supposedly fighting for women rights and human rights in the Middle East but can’t even uphold them on our own soil.

I won’t get into the whole orientalist and neo-colonialist dimension of this Conservative fear-mongering, although it is an important aspect to consider when dismantling the Conservative jigsaw. I will emphasize the fact that many more women, many more single mothers, many more women in precarious situations, many more working-class women, many more indigenous women, racialized women, more women in general are affected by the austerity and the neo-liberal agenda imposed by this Conservative government than they are by the Niqab.

Economic fundamentalism is as detrimental to the stature and the well-being of women through this country as is religious fundamentalism.

A luta continua.

When sections of a website are labelled “Entitlement Princess of the Month” and “13 reasons women lie about being raped”, it’s usually easy to tell the website belongs to an angry internet troll – someone who never leaves their house and whose opinion no one gives much thought to. Unfortunately Mike Buchanan is no anonymous troll.

Buchanan is, in fact, a UK writer and conservative politician, who previously worked as a consultant for the Tory government. Not surprisingly Buchanan quit in 2009, when British Prime Minister David Cameron announced support for an all-female parliamentary candidate shortlist. Since then Buchanan has devoted himself to being a men’s rights advocate, founding the political party “Justice for Men and Boys (And the women who love them)” in 2013.

Researching Buchanan quickly becomes infuriating. Not because he claims to fight for the rights of men and boys. It’s infuriating because Buchanan is a hypocrite. Buchanan continuously argues online and in the media that feminism is nothing more than a hate-filled ideology. But Buchanan then uses his Justice for Men and Boys website as a personal arena to attack and belittle women.

A quick scan of the J4mb website shows that Buchanan posts emails from the type of fans that compare feminists to dogs. Buchanan argues in his party’s election manifesto that more women in the workplace have collectively ruined pretty much every industry in the UK including medicine, education and policing. He even declares that female genital mutilation  has less impact on women then circumcision does on men.

The law in the UK forbids all forms of female genital mutilation – FGM – including those which have less impact on females, than male genital mutilation – MGM – has on males. FGM is justifiably regarded as a human rights issue, and the law makes no accommodation for religious or cultural considerations.”

Statements like these (and much, much more) are just on the J4mb website. Buchanan has also written three books on anti-feminism including The Glass Ceiling Delusion: The Real Reason Women don’t Reach Senior Positions (spoiler alert: it’s all a conspiracy orchestrated by militant feminists). But the twice-divorced Buchanan insists he’s not a misogynist. “Insinuations of misogyny invariably come in the wake of my presentations of reasoned arguments,” Buchanan writes on his website.

Buchanan’s idea of proving he’s not a misogynist includes praising the website “Women against Feminism.” He congratulates these women on their “independent minds” as oppose to “miserable whine merchant” feminists. His comments begs the question has Buchanan actually read the website WAF?

Because as I pointed out in my last post, while many WAF posters don’t want the stigma of being called a feminist, they do in fact support many of the same issues feminists do. Could it be that Buchanan is grasping at straws to make his points that he’ll simply praise anything that claims to be against feminism?

Buchanan’s ideals are especially troubling in regards to his political ambitions. The Justice for Men and Boys party is currently running for three seats in the May 2015 general election in Nottingham, England. Effective political leaders need to work towards the good of everyone in their community, not a narrow-minded view of what the right kind of people are. While it’s hopefully doubtful anyone in the J4mb will be elected, it’s important for Nottingham voters to be reminded on some of issues Buchanan will be running on the following topics.

Rape: The manifesto declares that the allowed time for abortions should be cut down from 24 to 13 weeks. It makes compensations for abortions when the woman’s physical health is at risk, but not mental health.  So who cares if you were raped or the victim of incest, have an unwanted child already.

Women should be held morally accountable for the children they conceive… There’s no evidence to support the thesis that abortion reduces the risk to mental health of women with an unwanted pregnancy, and clinical trials to investigate the matter would, of course, be highly unethical.”

Education: Gender stereotypes on the types of careers men and women should have need to be enforced, and how dare the British government try and encourage otherwise!

“We also take issue with governments continuing to spend large amounts of taxpayers’ money ‘encouraging’girls and young women into STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) subjects and careers. These subjects were historically the routes to careers for many young men, yet the government is spending £30 million ‘encouraging’ women into engineering careers, although women have for decades expressed little interest in engineering as a career choice.”

Family: The entire notion of family has been ruined by feminism. Feminists are destroying fatherhood, and women are solely to blame for society’s high divorce rate. All these feminists family-destroyers really want to do is use our sperm and become lesbians.

“In only forty years or so, the entire institution of the family, underpinned by a lifelong commitment to marriage, has been overturned. This was driven by feminist politicians such as Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt […] Divorce is at an all-time high, having increased by 800% since 19603 and almost half of all children now see their parents break up by the time they are 15 […] Furthermore, women are the principal agents in ending their marriages – at more than three times the rate men are. Fatherhood is deemed unnecessary by the state, so taxpayers are subsidizing sperm banks for single women and lesbians.”

All this being said, Buchanan does bring up certain points that I agree with. Raising awareness and helping prevent male suicide, supporting male victims of domestic and sexual abuse, creating more balanced custody arrangements after divorce, and ending stigma around homelessness are all issues of Buchanan’s that I support. But where he loses my respect is when he twists each of his arguments around to demonstrate how things were just fine under a patriarchal society, and feminism has subsequently managed to ruin it.

That’s when Buchanan becomes less of an activist, and more of a man who’s upset about more women becoming doctors, women who have abortions after the mental trauma of being raped, or single women deciding to have a child without a father. Instead of Buchanan, let’s praise real activists and politicians in the UK who fight for HUMAN rights. And for god’s sake don’t vote Buchanan into office.

Osheaga 2014 Gogol Bordello © Bianca Lecompte

2015 has been off to quite a busy start, but before we get too involved, let’s take one final look back at 2014.

Every year we ask our contributors to vote on the favourite two posts they wrote and the two posts they liked most from all the other contributors on the site. Then, in a not-too-scientific manner, we turn that into this list.

In no particular order, these are the top posts of 2014 on FTB:

Standing in solidarity with Ferguson by Cem Ertekin, photos Gerry Lauzon

After the grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri erupted. In Montreal, the Black Students’ Network of McGill organized a vigil. Cem Ertekin was there to report and record audio and Gerry Lauzon took pictures (read the post).

Burlesque: A Naked Revolution You Can Do Too! by Cat McCarthy
Cat McCarthy on what burlesque has done for her and can do for you, too. For her, it’s a revolution of sexual liberation. (read the post).

Our first and (probably) last post about Jian Ghomeshi by Johnny Scott

We only published one post about Jian Ghomeshi this year: Johnny Scott’s satirical response to the overbearing presence of Ghomeshi images in his Facebook feed. The story is important, but do we really need to keep looking at his face? (read the post)

Electric Winter: an interview with Igloofest’s Nicolas Cournoyer by Bianca David

Did you know that Igloofest started out as a joke? Well, it did, and now it’s anything but. Find out about the fest’s origins and its future in Bianca David’s interview with founder Nicolas Cournoyer. (read the post)

Black Lives Matter - In Solidarity with Ferguson Montreal vigil (5)
From the solidarity vigil for Ferguson held in Montreal on November 25, 2014. Photo by Gerry Lauzon.

 

Solidarity with the enemy: When the oppressor wants to fight oppression by Jason C. McLean

When municipal workers took up the fight against austerity, Jason C. McLean wondered if it was possible to show solidarity with those who didn’t reciprocate. Also, would that even be a good thing? (read the post)

Channeling Energy with Brody Stevens @ OFF-JFL by Jerry Gabriel

This year, we covered Just for Laughs, OFF-JFL and Zoofest. One of the more, um, interesting performances we saw was by Brody Stevens (he had a cameo in The Hangover). Find out why it piqued our interest in this report by Jerry Gabriel. (read the post)

Ferguson – The Grand Hypocrisy: Legitimate violence, ideology and the American Dream by Niall Clapham Ricardo

How legitimate is a legal system that serves more to oppress than to protect? Niall Clapham Ricardo takes a look at the aftermath of the Ferguson Grand Jury. (read the post)

The rise of EDM at Osheaga by Jesse Anger

This year, we returned to Osheaga and Jesse Anger discovered that it was more electronic than ever. Find out why. (read the post)

 

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From November 29, 2014 Refusons l’Austerité march in Montreal. Photo by Cem Ertekin.

 

Say no to victim blaming by Bree Rockbrand

When the Montreal taxi rape story broke, Bree Rockbrand searched for stories of similar cabbie assaults. What she found lead to this post about why we need to stop victim blaming. (read the post)

Cuddles and catpuccinos: How Montréal is setting the course for cat cafés in North America by Josh Davidson

CAAAAAATS! But seriously, there are cats, plenty of them, at Montreal’s two cat cafes, the first such places in North America. Josh Davidson reports. (read the post)

Snowpiercer is a Welcome Addition to the Current Dystopia Craze by Thomas O’Connor

With the dystopia genre going the way of vampires, Thomas O’Connor takes a look at Snowpiercer. Is this a film that can buck the trend? (read the post)

SPVM officers issue a ticket for a situation they created (AUDIO) by Jason C. McLean

Lindsay Rockbrand just wanted to lay down for a few minutes on a park bench, but the SPVM wouldn’t let that happen. Even though it was before 11pm, they managed to give her a ticket for being in a park after hours (read the post and listen to the interview)

Tinder, Tinder, On The Wall… by Jules

Jules decides to try out Tinder. Wonder what will make her swipe left? Find out. (read the post)

Igloofest 2014 7 © Bianca Lecompte
Igloofest 2014. Photo by Bianca Lecompte.

 

2014 in Review: Why Feminism Still Matters by Stephanie Laughlin

It’s not usual for a year-in-review piece to make it to the list of favourite posts, but Stephanie Laughlin’s look at the events of 2014 as a reason feminism is still needed bucks that trend. Find out why. (read the post)

Some Nasty Advice: The Nasty Show @ JFL by Hannah Besseau

We didn’t like everything at this year’s JFL. While Hannah Besseau enjoyed the Nasty Show overall, she does have some advice for next year. Will those planning it listen? (read the post)

Quebec election postponed until August: Marois by Jason C. McLean

Our April Fools posts usually catch a few people (usually those just waking up) off-guard, but in 2014 we really seemed to have hit a nerve. Maybe it’s because the scenario we jokingly proposed wasn’t all that inconceivable, given the climate. (read the post)

P6 is police collaboration and I refuse to participate in it by Katie Nelson

Katie Nelson argues why, under no circumstances, people organizing a protest should comply with municipal bylaw P6. It is collaboration, pure and simple. (read the post)

Osheaga Day 3: The Green stage rules them all [PHOTOS] by Bianca Lecompte

More Osheaga! This time, it’s the Green Stage and quite a few photos by Bianca Lecompte. (read the post, check out the pics)

Petrocultures 2014: Oil Energy or Canada’s Future by Sarah Ring, photos by Jay Manafest

This year, McGill held a conference on oil and Canada’s energy future. It welcomed people with sustainable solutions to our dependence on fossil fuel and Ezra Levant. FTB’s Sarah Ring and Jay Manafest were in attendance. (read the post)

#FantasiaFest Interview with Director Leigh Janiak of Honeymoon by Pamela Fillion

No, this isn’t just in here because it mentions Ygritte from Game of Thrones, but that helps. It’s actually a pretty cool interview by Pamela Filion with Leigh Janiak, Rose Leslie’s director in Honeymoon. (read the post)

Our collective struggle: Austerity and Spring 2015 by Cem Ertekin

This piece by Cem Ertekin is a prediction of what’s to come in the Quebec student movement (SPOILER ALERT: We’re in for another Maple Spring). It’s also a great primer for anyone wanting a rundown on just what austerity is and Quebec politics for the last few years. (read the post)

TIME magazine recently included “feminism” in their “Which word should be banned in 2015?” poll. The suggestion was supposed to be meant as joke, but looking back at some of the major news stories from 2014 shows that there’s no joke about it. Feminism is a movement that has not been fully realized and is very much still necessary.

Every day porn actors give willing consent for the world to ogle their naked bodies, and the internet literally gives one millions of options to choose from. The hundreds of mostly female celebrities whose nude photos were leaked in August meanwhile did not give their consent.

Despite this disturbing attack on privacy, after the photo leak celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence were slut-shamed. As Lawrence described in her October 2014 Vanity Fair article, the photos were meant as a private gift for her long distance boyfriend, NOT for the world to dissect on 4chan. One of the drawbacks of being a modern day celebrity is that the public wants to know the most intimate details of your private life. Now that demand for knowledge seems to extend to their most intimate body parts as well.

Another important online story this year was GamerGate. The events surrounding GamerGate may have begun as a protest against corrupt journalism, but it eventually devolved when women who spoke up about issues in the gamer community where harassed and threatened.

Gamer and “Feminist Frequency” author Anita Sarkeesian was one such woman. Sarkeesian had to cancel a speaking appearance in Utah after she was sent an email which threatened a “Montreal Massacre like attack” if she spoke. Thankfully Sarkeesian escaped without incident, unlike the six victims of Elliot Rodger. Rodger’s California shooting spree this past May was allegedly about seeking retribution against women who sexually rejected him.

A poster displaying why she’s a “Women Against Feminism”

Not all feminist hate came from men this year. Women Against Feminism got a lot of press in 2014 with their stated mission being “women’s voices against modern feminism and it’s toxic culture.” Besides the few inane WAF posters who insist they enjoy living in a patriarchal society, most declare they want equal rights for the sexes. Many also correctly point out there’s unfair standards out there for both men and women. So why then do they prefer to be labelled as egalitarian as opposed to feminist?

Perhaps because even in the third wave of the movement, feminism for many still equals angry, man-hating lesbian. “The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating…For the record feminism by definition is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities,” Emma Watson (recently appointed feminist of the year) said during her eloquent speech at the UN in September.

Some believe that celebrities like Watson standing up for feminism in fact negatively impacts the movement. In her article Emma Watson? Jennifer Lawrence? These aren’t the feminists you’re looking for, feminist writer Roxane Gay worries celebrity culture has muffled the meaning of the feminist movement. She also argues that there’s no need to make feminism more accessible to men.

It’s awesome that Beyonce calls herself a feminist, but do celebrity endorsements of the movement help or muddle its meaning?

Gay’s arguments are worth analyzing. Are celebrities who tweet selfies of themselves with signs saying #HeforShe or #BringBackOurGirls making a big difference? Probably not. But it’s impossible to deny that famous face gives global attention to causes that need it.

And if feminism ever hopes to truly achieve its goals, it does needs to work side by side with men to make it happen. How incredible would it be if male and female feminists could inspire men to be less like pick-up artist Julien Blanc and more like Pakistani diplomat Ziauddin Yousafzai?

Yousafzai is the father of this year’s Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai. In March Yousafzai gave a TED talk (see video below) about misogyny and the patriarchy in developing and tribal societies. By not “clipping his daughter’s wings” and by teaching her as a girl she too had the right to go to school, Malala has inspired a generation of women to stand up for their rights.

Brave families like the Yousafzai’s are the most important reason why feminism still matters. Long after Hollywood has moved on to its next cause du jour, charities like  The Malala Fund will still need support. Twitter may have died down with its #BringBackOurGirls intensity, but it’s important to remember most of those girls are still missing. Women in Saudi Arabia are receiving prison sentences for driving cars. Gang rapes and lack of police interest in the crimes continue to plague India.

So the haters can spout all the nonsense they want about how feminism hurts women. But the rest of us are going to remember that feminism isn’t just a word that Beyoncé calls herself. It’s an important movement that affects all women on the planet, and still has a lot of work ahead.

This fall, I began working tangentially in the tech industry coordinating volunteers, who inspire and empower kids by teaching them to code, for a local non-profit called Kids Code Jeunesse. In light of recent and troubling events making headlines and spreading like wildfire over social media, I thought it necessary to speak with local #WomenInTech and hear about their perspectives and to discuss gender in the Tech and Gaming industry, and mostly, to learn from them, for myself and my work, and to share that knowledge with others.

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Carolyn Jong

Firstly, I spoke with Carolyn Jong, who is an organizer at the Mount Royal Game Society and a member of the Technoculture, Art, and Games Research Centre. Jong has been involved in many projects including making games of her own, and looking at intersectionality in gaming cultures. She is also an active member of Montreal’s indie game community.

A few days before we met for the interview, Jong hosted a discussion on recent events, including threats of a massacre at a feminist speaking event on the topic of gaming that would be given at a school, and about the “hate and harassment campaign,” also known as #GamerGate, with its persecution of game designer Zoe Quinn and others. Jong felt that there was a need for local collective conversation about what had been happening.

According to Jong, in terms of discussing issues affecting women in tech and games, there is a whole gamut of reactions. Some people recognize the issues and work towards addressing them while, on the other end of the spectrum, there seem to be two types of reactions: one of dismissal (“There are no issues!”) and another of a more aggressive nature.

Jong noted the irony of the dismissive response, which forces those seeking to address gender issues to keep close tabs on research and statistics, in order to demonstrate the “realness” of an issue that they may have experienced first hand. On the other hand, the more aggressive reaction is linked to power, privilege, and fear: “It’s complicated and part of a much bigger trend. This is a reactionary response.” In her blog post, “GamerGate and the Right,” Jong explores the disturbing nature GamerGate and its relationship with other movements and politics more in depth.

badgeThere are many initiatives aimed at bringing women in the industry together (such as GAMERella) along with initiatives aimed at getting young girls interested in tech and games (Girls Who Code, Ladies Learning Code). Jong has been involved with some of these groups, including the local group Pixelles, and has found meeting others with similar experiences and looking to address similar issues has also been a validating experience.

“For my own experience at least, it has been inspiring,” Jong explained. “These spaces have kind of given me, this sounds corny but, the strength to keep pushing on [addressing gender issues]. It would be really hard to do that kind of work because it’s not something that tends to be rewarded in other places.”

“I’m hoping,” Jong emphasized, “that the sort of push to get girls and women involved in games is going to branch out to include other people that have been marginalized or minoritized in circles. Current movements tend to be inclusive and aware of these issues but I’m hoping other initiatives specifically addressing these groups will emerge.”

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Julia Evans

Second, I chatted with Julia Evans, a Montreal-based web developer and data scientist, who organizes monthly events for programmer women with the Montreal All-Girl Hack Night. She also co-founded the local chapter of PyLadies Montreal.

“My daily experience in this community is mostly of super wonderful people, but for lots of women (and other minorities), it’s not like that. They work with people who routinely don’t take their work seriously or sexually harass them or just exclude them in a series of minor ways every day,” Evans recounted. “The more friends I make, who are women who work in this industry, the more I hear about [how] super competent wonderful technical women regularly get harassed and threatened. There’s a lot of really blatant sexism.”

These incidents of blatant sexism range from the microaggressive and discriminatory, to flagrant misogyny.  Evans cited the blog posts of two women, Cate Huston and Julie Pagano, who publicly left the tech industry or community as an example of the types of issues women face.  Evans also cited as evidence of blatant sexism how Christien Rioux, co-founder of Veracode, dismissed women’s abilities to write security exploits. Recently, the CEO of Microsoft, speaking at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, responded to a question for advice for women who might be nervous to ask for a raise with a statement that they should not ask for a raise but trust in the system to pay them what they should earn. Problematic to say the least. There exists, and Evans pointed to it, a timeline of sexist incidents at the Wiki for Geek Feminism which includes the École Polytechnique massacre of 1989.

For Evans, who is used to the kinds of environments that welcome a diversity of programmers, it comes as a shock to attend conferences where 98% of the people in the room are men. “What went wrong here? This is not what a developer community is,” Evans recounts thinking in these situations. She finds it really upsetting that it would be considered normal to have a conference with an overwhelming majority of men when there is a considerable and established presence of women in programming already. Moreover, Evans nods to the magazine Model View Culture as highlighting the already existing diversity in tech whilst addressing and offering solutions to some of the barriers present.gf-banner

Evans, like Jong, pointed to the importance of spaces which recognize these issues and aim to make change. Initiatives like AdaCamp, a women-only conference around open technology and culture, and workshops like Hacker School where, Evans explained “people work incredibly hard on making sure everyone is taken seriously and that everyone is given an equal chance to learn and grow.” Evans recommends reading a post by fellow Hacker School attendee Sumana titled “Hacker School Gets an A on the Bechdel Test” which highlights the diversity of women and their conversations in tech spaces.

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Forget The Box would like to thank Julia Evans and Carolyn Jong for their time and for sharing their experiences and knowledge with us.

Despite the start of another academic year still being months away, The Centre for Gender Advocacy is already looking towards the fall, continuing to mount a campaign to get mandatory consent workshops in Concordia University residences. The campaign includes an online petition with over 200 signatures calling for support of the workshops.

The campaign seeks to bring education about issues of consent to students residing in Concordia University residences, a number which will be growing this year with the expansion of the University’s residence system.

Julie Michaud, Administrative Coordinator at The Centre explained to Forget the Box that a similar system has already been implemented at McGill for the past ten years through Rez Project – something that she views as all the more reason to follow suit at Concordia.

However, the University’s Director of Residences has asked the Centre to take down the online petition, and telling the Centre that it would be unfeasible to hold such mandatory workshops.

Michaud pointed to the fact that the Centre had met in the past with the Director of Residence Life, as well as managers of residences to discuss the issue of mandatory consent workshops, and the response was relatively closed.

“They offered for us to come in and give one workshop – well one workshop will let maybe 20 students out of several hundred get this information, which isn’t practical. They gave us reasons we thought that weren’t very convincing about why it would be impossible to have mandatory consent workshops.”

“We did receive a call a few weeks after we put up the petition and the Director of Residence Life asked us to take it down, saying he thought it wasn’t a very good way to start the conversation, but as I said we had conversations with them and reiterated that he had given us his reasons

Michaud continued that she believes the lack of support stems from a “lack of vision and a lack of understanding for what a substantial issue this is for them to just shut down the conversation. At McGill there are far more residence, at Concordia there are less than a thousand, even with the planned expansion for next fall. ThI just don’t buy that idea that it isn’t possible or too much of a logistical challenge to make this happen.

“I think we can work through ways to really prioritize this, all of these new students coming into University and residence life usually having no decent sex or consent education in high school.”

“We need to take concrete steps to ensure that people are being respectful of one another, because residence isn’t just an apartment building, the Director of Residence Life isn’t just a landlord, residence is really a community.”

While the Centre has run optional consent workshops before, Michaud highlighted that making the workshops mandatory means that those who may not believe they need to care about issues of consent, are also receiving lessons on sexual assault and consent.

“Most survivors of sexual assualt know the person who is assaulting them, might even be in a relationship with them, it happens in all different locations, women of colour are often greater targets of sexual assault than white women. So there are a lot of issues that need to be unpacked and people need to have their conceptions of what sexual assault is broadened.

“People also need to learn what it means to support survivors because I think people also have this idea that sexual assault happens to people we don’t know […] the truth is though that around 1 in 4 students, and in my opinion that is actually a low estimate […], experience some kind of sexual assault throughout the course of their post-secondary education.

“So we have to face it, we all know someone who has faced sexual assault whether we realize it or not. And we have to learn how to be supportive, how to not reinforce the common victim blaming ideas that is so pervasive in our society.”

“In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, I’m sure this Mean Girls quote is of the most recognized in our modern culture. When I first watched this movie almost ten years ago at the ripe age of 15, I laughed hysterically and was like “OMG SO TRUE!” and sure enough, the following Halloween, I’d donned my shortest skirt, tightest top, and a pair of improvised cat ears for some lame high school party. Done. I don’t even think my face was made up to look like a cat- but I was a sexy kitty with pretty hair so what did it matter?

kidstowomenLadies, haven’t you ever noticed how strange it is that as children we were encouraged to dress up elaborately for Halloween, yet as soon as we hit puberty, we start taking advantage of the holiday as a time to reveal our tatas and what not? The other day, the well known PolicyMic social justice writer and a dear personal friend of mine, Elizabeth Plank, pointed this out when she uploaded a picture of kids costumes and sexy costumes side by side in a store. The caption of her photo read: “This #halloween shop wants to make sure little girls know exactly what’s expected of them later. #NotBuyingIt”. My favourite feminist makes a point: In the past, I myself along with plenty of other women in my age group (and beyond) went from dressing up in our childhoods as innocent cats, witches, and princesses to sexy cats, sexy cops, sexy nurses… Dorothy becomes sexy Dorothy- thank you for ruining my childhood. A bee becomes.. a sexy bee? How the hell does that work? What’s so sexy about pollination!?

I’m not bashing the desire to look hot on Halloween, ladies and gentlemen. This holiday is a day of release, and in our culture, it is a day where most rules should be forgotten. However, we have the right to look hot every day, not exclusively on a holiday. Really, a woman should be able to dress like a “total slut” if she wants to every single day of her life, and no one should say anything about it because it’s HER choice at the end of the day. But we should take a minute to think that for the most part, women are being encouraged to strip down for Halloween, and this should be a choice, not an expectation… and frankly, the whole lingerie+bunny ears thing is getting kind of boring.

So as long as you’re still procrastinating your costume… why don’t you keep these tips in mind.

My List of Commandments for creating your Halloween costume:

-Thou Shalt Not Buy Into Media Induced Expectations (We’re living in the 21st century, after all.)
See rant above. If you want to look like a “slut”, do it, but know that you don’t HAVE to. Lingerie+animal ears aren’t the only option you have. College freshmen/women under 20, I’m looking at you.

-Thou Shalt Not Dress Offensively: sure, you have the right express your inner self (blah blah blah) on Halloween, but come on. Don’t blackface yourself. Don’t add detail to your eyes to turn Asian. A race is not a costume. And please, for the love of God, and this is coming from an Arab: PLEASE. Don’t dress as a terrorist. It’s not funny, it’s rude. Be considerate of who you might offend.

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-Thou Shalt Not be Wasteful: If you must purchase something for your costume, choose wisely and welcome it into your wardrobe. We all know the drill: you buy one of those shitty packaged Halloween costumes that you wear once, spill beer on, never wash, and never wear again. That’s totally wasteful. You would be surprised with the treasures you could keep from Halloween costumes past! One year I was.. well, something that involved a leather skirt, Doc Martins, a short black wig, and a whip. I’d purchased a pleather corset top from Cruella especially for the occasion. Three years later, I’m pairing that top with high waisted, long billowy skirts and calling it my “Carrie Bradshaw”outfit. It has gone from costume to respected staple.

-Thou shalt raid thine closet: You’ll be surprised with what you can come up with, especially if channeling an iconic figure like John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, or Bob Dylan.

1374950_658002757552380_1661427143_n-Thou shalt respect the classics: Whatever happened to being a witch, a ghost, a pumpkin, or a ghoul on Halloween!! Did we throw all those costumes away to become nurses and pop stars? I’m personally bringing the witch back this year, and I’m so excited. I haven’t been a witch since I was 8 years old!

-Thou Shalt Own It: Own what you wear, honey. Strut your stuff, and be creative. Halloween is the funniest night of the year, after all.

And the final commandment: Thou Shalt attend the Glam Gam production, Tales from the Crotch on October 31st at 10pm!! I’ll see you all there, and if you’re wearing a costume, it’s 10 bucks admission. If you’re being boring, the price to pay is 15. nyahahahahahahahaha!!

Alright my pretties, have yourselves a wonderful Halloweek, and don’t forget to enter Forget the Box’s costume contest. See the link below for more details!!!!
http://www.forgetthebox.net/halloween-costume-contest-disguise-for-prize-2013/

“Long live the topless jihad against infidels!  Our tits are deadlier than your stones!” – Inna Shevchenko

amina protest photoMembers of the radical feminist collective Femen are using their bodies as a weapon against patriarchy by scrawling slogans across their bare breasts and staging protests across Europe. One brave young Tunisian woman was recently threatened to death by stoning for two controversial photographs uploaded to the Femen Tunisia Facebook page.

In the first of the provocative images, the 19-year old activist known as Amina was topless with the words “Fuck your morals” written across her chest, giving the middle finger with each hand. The second photo showed her wearing thick eyeliner and smoking a cigarette with Arabic text written across her naked torso that read: “My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour”.

The pictures sparked an outcry from religious conservatives in Tunisia who insisted that she be punished not just according to sharia law, which would result 80 to 100 lashes, but that she be stoned to death for the severity of her actions. Tunisian preacher Almi Adel’s fear that her act could implant disobedient thoughts in other women’s heads seems to be coming to fruition, as Femen has declared April 4th Topless Jihad Day.

“Religious dictatorship begins by enslaving women, but a woman’s act of self-liberation is the first step toward destroying the sharia regime.  Topless protests are the battle flags of women’s resistance, a symbol of a woman’s acquisition of rights over her own body!” wrote one of group’s leaders, Inna Shevchenko.

Founded in Kiev in 2008, Femen has spread across the globe thanks to their broad, radical attitude and strong social media presence. Their three major targets in the war on patriarchy are all religions, dictatorships and the sex industry. While they protest what seems like a diverse array of issues- gay rights, anorexic-thin models at Milan Fashion Week, Euro 2012 and disgraced lecherous former Italian prime ministers to name a few- what remains constant is the attention that they attract from baring their breasts.

Some have criticized Femen for their topless warrior tactics, charging that their reliance on the shock factor and sex appeal of skin seems counterintuitive. The group firmly believes it is an attempt to reclaim the female naked body, in both a literal and metaphorical sense.

“A woman’s naked body has always been the instrument of the patriarchy,” said Shevchenko. “They use it in the sex industry, the fashion industry, advertising, always in men’s hands. We realised the key was to give the naked body back to its rightful owner, to women, and give a new interpretation of nudity … I’m proud of the fact that today naked women are not just posing on the cover of Playboy, but can be at an action, angry, and can irritate people.”

Amina was initially attracted to Femen because of their visibility in promoting women’s rights and freedoms. In her last interview before her disappearance, she told Italian journalist Federica Tourn that women in Tunisia are ready for a change. “Women have reached the height of self-determination: we no longer obey any authority, neither family nor religious. We know what we want and we make our own decisions.”

Unfortunately, Amina’s point of view is still the slim minority in contemporary Tunisian society. Since threats were made to her life, she vanished from the public eye. After her family vocalized their shame and disappointment with her, reports even emerged that they had her involuntarily committed to a mental institution, and members of Femen began to fear for her life again. Amina’s lawyer Bocha Bel Haj Hmida, a well-known Tunisian women’s rights activist, debunked those rumors when she made a statement that Amina was “home and well.”

As a burlesque dancer and strip karaoke aficionado, it both baffles and deeply saddens me that there are places in the world where the simple act of baring your breasts is enough to get you killed.

 

When I was a kid my brother used to hog the TV in our den all the time so he could watch WWF wrestling. I hated it. I found the theatrics transparent, the “fighting” ridiculous and the machismo and obviously fake beefs nauseating.

So when I showed up at the Blue Cat Boxing Club for the final event of this year’s Edgy Women Festival and realized that the show I had been sent to cover would be a female version of the same thing, I died a little inside. That is, until the action started. With a hot dog clenched in one fist and a coke slushie chilling the other, I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, cheering, booing, gasping and moaning along with the rest of the crowd.

Edgy Lucha-008I don’t know if it was because the fighters were women, or because the action was live instead of on a TV screen, or because of the creamy cleavage and bouncy booty encased in sparkly outfits, but when fighters Angie Skye and Mary Lee Rose started throwing each other around the ring, all of my reservations went right out the window.

As the ladies fought, commentators Morgan Sea and Robby Hoffman kept the crowd in stitches while sign girl Dayna MacLeod walked around the ring in varying degrees of undress. In between matches announcer Guizo la Nuit introduced the next fighters.

Edgy Lucha-120The second match was between the only two male fighters of the evening, La Momia and The Wonderful Jesse Champagne. La Momia’s costume was awesome and I could tell that these two had some experience in the ring. Also, I find mummies incredibly creepy, so watching one in the ring was thrilling.

Edgy Lucha-180For the halftime show Mia Van Leeuwen and sidekick Laura Beeston kept the crowd entertained with a pretty disturbing burlesque-cum-weird theatre piece. In her kind-of-boxing-outfit and kind-of-dead-geisha-girl make-up, Van Leeuwen danced around the front of the ring licking a lollipop, stuffing her face with intestine-looking licorice and then drooling what I suspect was raspberry jam out of her mouth. Apparently it was supposed to “explore the tension between good-girl behaviour and the fierce, feral antics of a woman wanting to fight”, but I really didn’t get that at all. I thought it was ok…and kind of creepy.

The second half of the show sported some pretty heavy hitters with a match between Kalamity and Kira and then Sweet Cherrie and Lufisto. These ladies really beat the crap out of each other and it was SO GREAT! People were thrown out of the ring, someone beat someone with an old VCR and I think one of the ladies even defeated the other with her vagina.

Edgy Lucha-349The show ended with a kind of royal rumble where all the fighters got into the ring and beat each other, and the goalie, up.

I can’t remember who was crowned the winner of the night, but I will always remember how much fun I had that night. I can’t wait for the next match. Move over burlesque, there’s a new show in town and it wants to kick your sexy butt.

Photos by Chris Zacchia. For our complete photo set check out the Edgy Lucha Photo album.

Literature is an endless permutation of themes. But, what happens when you mix zombies with Biblical stories? Stant Litore created the Zombie Bible, an ongoing re-imagination of our cultural heritage with an important twist–more zombies, more horror and managing to be relevant to our day-to-day life. I’ve been reading The Zombie Bible ever since its first volume was released in 2011. Despite being irreligious, its religious tones and themes didn’t put me off. The book doesn’t seek to preach and convert. Rather, it relates to the struggles of humanity against the swarms of the hungry dead.

The latest book, Strangers in the Land, follows the story of the prophetess Devora the Old. She sees what God wants her to see, and she finds herself called north. The zombies have returned, and the People are in danger. What was interesting about Devora was how well her inner strength was displayed. As a woman in 1190 BC, prophetic visions or not, she had to fight to be heard and recognized in a society where only men could hold power. There’s a constant aura of personal danger that permeates the story. Not only from the zombies, but from the men who are supposed to protect and travel with her. Every gesture and comment can be read with the subtext of imminent violence. Devora’s calm determination and sense of duty set her apart from the other characters, but her response to things that test her faith and perceptions are what really serve to humanize her. While you might find yourself rolling your eyes at her anti-heathen outbursts and almost unfeeling adherence to the covenant, Devora seems like a woman you could meet at the story, or on the job.

Strangers in the land'_The setting of ancient Israel was so well done that it was like I stepped through a time machine. The worldbuilding was painstakingly done–the landscape, down to the tents and the trees was authentic and beautifully described. The city of Walls, the camps, the zombies and the shared history merges together to create descriptive quality seldom seen outside of literary fiction. Nothing is held back or censored. The beauty of the land is coupled with the terrible destruction brought by the undead to form a chilling representation of what the past would have looked like with zombies.

In the end, The Zombie Bible is about people–our ancestors’ struggle with the undead. Strangers in the Land is no exception, but Litore does an excellent job of writing a heroine fighting for life and justice in a terrifying and unjust world. Even if you’ll never read The Bible, give The Zombie Bible a try.

The Edgy Women Festival will celebrate it’s 20th year of feminist art practices in an arena that isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about feminist art. This year the Edgy Women Festival invites you to celebrate feminist art in a boxing ring, on the ice and at the gym.

Edgy ColloqueThursday, March 7th, 2013
OFF SIDE : EDGY COLLOQUE

Thursday morning join in an afternoon of performance, lecture and discussion inside the boxing ring at Blue Cat Boxing Club, 435 Beaubien West, 4th floor, corner of Durocher. FREE!

Give-Hockey-A-TryUNRULY HOCKEY

Thursday evening don some skates and re-write the rues of hockey at the Arena Mont-Royal, 4365 Rue Cartier. The event starts at 10:00 p.m., goes until around 12:30 a.m. and it’s also FREE! Just bring a helmet (it’s mandatory) and any gear that you have. All ages, all skill levels are welcome to attend. After the match, everyone’s invited to get their groove on at the Hockey Derby Disco Party. Fun!

 

Heather_CassilsThursday, March 7th, 2013
GAME ON AU CHAT BLEU

Does the idea of hitting the gym bore you to tears? The Edgy Women Festival has just the thing for you! On Frdiay night this gym will transform into a performance space with interactive performances and installation art work. Tickets are $15-$20 and are available online and at the door.

Sunday, March 10th, 2013
EDGY LUCHA

Sunday all bets are off as local lady fighters take to the ring to wrestle it out. Belgian experimental theater artist Marijs Boulogne organized this feminist Lucha Libre event and was smart enough to know that nothing compliments sweaty women wrestling like a neo-burlesque half-time show! Tickets are $15-$20 and are available online and at the door.