We live in a culture of rape, and it’s truly ridiculous. We teach our daughters how to avoid being raped, when we should be teaching our sons not to rape people. Men should be seriously offended that society views their natural state as rapist, after all… Women and girls are the ones who need to change their behaviour least they provoke some dormant rapist to the surface of that fine gentleman who lives in their dorm.
I would have hit the “reblog” button if there had been one, but there wasn’t. So here’s a diatribe to read. Go. Read. Follow her links. Comment. Share. And for f#%ks sake, lets change the freakin’ landscape. Rapist is not the inherent truth of man.
It has been an odd couple of days… and I’ve been sick, which only compounds things. I slept most of the last two days away… except for breaks to feed, water, and potty the dogs and other animals (and myself). Until today at suppertime when the girl got home from her Friday night sleepover and her cousin Finn’s second birthday party – big thanks to my parents for taking her to the party while I’ve been in bed. Okay… so all that doesn’t seem so odd? No, you’re right. What has been odd though, is that I’ve been home alone through all of this. Usually it’s me who’s off traveling places, but this time Damon’s gone. He’s off at a shop steward conference.
Damon has been a shop steward for over a decade now (if memory serves). And while it’s not a volunteer position very many people would take, it’s always been something I’ve been proud of him for. Not sure what a shop steward is? Well, at their most basic they are there to stand up for the unionized employees in any meetings or disciplinary steps. Feel like you might be on the short end of the stick heading into a meeting with management? You can count on your shop steward to go in with you. They know their unions policies, and they’ll have your back. It’s a pretty thankless job, as many volunteer positions are, but I’m proud of my husband for all he does, for everyone he’s helped, and those he will help in the future. Shop stewards are pretty awesome!
Come Saturday afternoon, I’ll no longer be the president of the Green Party of Saskatchewan. I’ve occupied the role for the last four years, since I was placed into the position by the board as the interim president in the Autumn of 2008, and was then elected and reelected by the party membership. It may not sound like a long time, but it feels like it. And come Saturday I’ll be stepping down not just from that particular role, but from the board in general.
I do have to admit, the decision has come with some mixed emotions… and it really wasn’t much of a decision really. The party has a requirement that members not serve on the board any longer than three years. I stayed on longer as there was no-one to fill the role except for myself. This year though, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to serve with Vicki Strelioff who was elected as my VP. And after working with her all this past year, and seeing how wonderfully she has handled herself through what proved to be a rather difficult year for the board, I have EVERY confidence in her ability to serve the membership as party chair.
I now have to decide if I do my one last duty, or if I step aside and allow Vicki to chair our AGM. It would seem an obvious decision. I attend the AGM, and chair one final meeting. The only reason it is a choice at all, and not just a given, is I know how difficult I will find it.
There is no glory in being the president of a political party. You hold all the responsibility, for everything that happens within the party, yet hardly anyone even knows your name. The leader – the figurehead – gets the all the prestige (and in some instances, without nearly the work). But if something ever goes wrong, that shifts very quickly. The president is the scapegoat, the one who’s head hits the chopping block in any scandal. However, if you’ve done your job well? Life continues on normally, no-one even realizing you are there – navigating the rough water, keeping an even keel. Ensuring your ship and her crew are safe and at ease. …it’s not a perfect metaphor, but it works.
The GPS has been such a huge part of my daily life for the last half decade… There is some relief at no longer having to shoulder the burden, but there is also a very large sense of loss. I know myself, and know how prone to tears I can be. I’m not sure I’d make it through that final meeting without coming apart – and that’s hardly befitting the chair of the board. I don’t know. I very honestly am not sure what I want to do.
At first it didn’t even enter into my mind that attending was a choice. It’s part of the job description. I call and chair all the meetings… but the closer this meeting gets, the more I’m finding I’m dreading it. I feel kind of silly over the whole thing, but part of me knows I’ll have to say good bye, and if I avoid the meeting, I can avoid doing so.
I guess we’ll see. I don’t have long now, and one way or another I need to make the choice. It really is the end of an era for me, and to be honest I’m torn over how I feel. Relief and sadness… they make for odd bedfellows.
Heroes. They are something we should all have, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Some may be the usual suspects, heralds of a cause, but others can be found unexpected places. In truth, I believe everyone has the potential to be a hero. And I can’t think of any better way to demonstrate this fact that to share a few of my local Saskatchewan heroes who also happen to be members of the acronym community.
Mikayla Schultz is the founder of TransSask (support services). She is a tireless advocate and campaigner for equality. Through tremendous efforts, she recently put government to the test and had many successes with the signing of a declaration formalizing March 25-31 as Transgender Awareness Week in communities across Saskatchewan.
Don Cochrane is a former University of Saskatchewan professor, who continues to educate everyone he meets. His groundbreaking work into subjects of importance to the Sexual Minority and Gender Variant community continue to force change, improving the lives of everyone in Canada. You can see his hand all over this province, and especially at the annual Breaking the Silence conference here in Saskatoon.
Sarah Houghtaling is a local high school student. She strives diligently to make lives better not only for those who attend school with her, but for minority students across our province. A student activist who’s name I highly recommend taking note of. She’s one of the many young people who WILL change our world for the better. If you are ever able to attend one of her talks, DO! You will be inspired.
Kay Williams is one of the most outspoken allies you will ever meet. A determined advocate for her son, and a helping voice in a confusing world for parents new to the world of parenting LGBTT2QI children and youth. Kay is a proud volunteer, and one of the founding members of PFLAG in Saskatoon. She also was awarded the Peter Corren Award for Outstanding Achievement this year at Breaking the Silence – and yes, I teared up during her acceptance speech (which I recorded, and will share at some point).
Four individuals, all unique, all at different stages of their journey, all willing to do whatever it takes to see things become better for those around them. All four are heroes, and all four I’m proud to call friend.
Who are the heroes in your life?
I’m still out sick, officially, but this couldn’t wait:
The Ugandan Parliament is currently looking at a bill that would allow the death penalty for something called “aggravated homosexuality”. Sexual Minority and Gender Variant people in Uganda already face a dangerous rode, as Uganda is one of the few nations where homosexuality is illegal. Please take a minute to write to the Prime Minister, urging him to NOT pass this bill during their upcoming session.
Action must be taken immediately, with a deadline of April 2nd. So please, please take a moment to write a brief email or to send (with guaranteed delivery prior to the second) a letter to the Hon. Amama Mbabzi.
Facing judicial punishment for simply BEING is a human rights travesty, but the idea that an individual could be put to death for love? There are no words that are adequate.
Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi
Office of the Prime Minister
P.O. Box 341, Kampala, Uganda
For more information on this bill, and other human rights issues, please visit Amnesty International at http://www.amnesty.org/ and http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR59/001/2012/en/fa2f38d6-dc7e-44cc-b295-5016f57154c5/afr590012012en.html
I have always believed in doing what I can to make things better. Well… no… scratch that. In my ADULT life, I have always believed in doing what I can to make things better (let’s face it, we weren’t all philanthropic teens, in fact I’d venture to say a lot of us were pretty self-serving at that age, but we grow, we change, we learn). But even as adults not all people believe in trying to make things better for others, not everyone believes in leaving the world better than we found it. So when I come across people who are doing their best to improve things? It always warms my heart.
I had a discussion via FB with a fellow MomWriter yesterday. She was venting, and was tired of people telling her she was too idealistic, tired of being told that it wasn’t worth trying so hard. I shared a little of my personal philosophy on why folks are often so ready and willing to give up.
There’s this whole idea out there that we should “think globally”, but the fact of the matter is that’s a very daunting thing to do. How can one person really make a difference when there is soooo much wrong with (and in) our world. One person is not going to make a difference on a global scale. What we need to do is to teach people to think locally. You may not be able to change the entire world, but you can change the world for ONE person in ONE situation.
Do what you can, in your home, in your neighbourhood, for those you encounter in your day to day life. Stop that kid from being picked on. Pick up the trash on your street. Start a recycling program at your workplace or in your school. Plant garlic in that abandoned lot two blocks down.
You don’t need to change the world to make a world of change in the lives of those around you. THAT is what we should focus on. And with enough people doing that? We really can change the world. We just need to do it, one person, one block, one neighbourhood at a time.
I’m feeling generally dissatisfied tonight. Just too much going on that I’m really not all that happy with, and no time to sort it all out just now. …and this isn’t due to my January blah’s. It’s not a blah feeling, and it’s not January. This is me, wishing I could just shake the snot out of people and tell them to wake up – but I’m too tired to put that kind of effort out. So for now? I’ll just gripe briefly and feel dissatisfied. It’ll pass, one or two things will get worked out, and I’ll be back to my chipper self. Right now though? I’d be quite happy to take a paid vacation somewhere… most anywhere… anyone wanna send me some place? Please? No? Well, ya can’t blame a grrrl for trying.
I don’t know. People can’t move forward as a group when there’s dissension. Discord and argument for their own sake? I’ll never understand it. Work together, compromise, make change happen. Create progress. In a small grassroots group this should be easy. It has always been easy in the past. Even when we’ve disagreed we do so peaceably knowing we need to work together for the common good. Two or three people causing strife for what seems like the fun of it. It doesn’t benefit anyone, and I just don’t get it. Give the wrong individual the illusion of power and see the friction they can create. And that’s what’s happened here. One person voted into a position in the interim… temporarily. And it’s a role with no power, a figure head, someone to present to the public who can put voice to the decisions the executive has made… and suddenly there is no end to the conflict. It’s a comedy of errors that has resulted in near-atrocities, that thankfully for the long standing reputation of another board member was able to be smoothed over. Ugh. So many of us have considered just walking away, but the idea of leaving all our hard work to bring things this far in the hands of individuals who would run things into the ground? Not something we’re willing to do.
There you go. That’s my gripe. Volunteering is sooo not worth this type of headache, but there are some things we do for the good of the collective, things that most people will never have any idea we’ve done… things that need to be done. It falls to us. Often because there is no one else willing to pick up the torch. So it’s onward, and we truly hope upward.
If I try to pass the torch, will you be there to pick it up and run with it?
The last several months I’ve served on (and last month and this month have chaired) the board for Breaking the Silence. It’s the fifteenth year for this annual conference that focuses on breaking down walls and barriers in education for Sexual Minorities and Gender Queer individuals here in Saskatchewan.
When Don Cochrane (the founder and force behind Breaking the Silence) asked me to join the board this year I couldn’t say no. The youth of our province deserve the very best we can give them, and helping to bring this conference together is just one way I can help provide that. And not only am I working behind the scenes, I’ll actually be presenting at the conference as well. I’ll be leading a session I’ve nicknamed “Gender, Sex, and How the Heck I Fit into it All.”
There will be several “streams” of information presented at Breaking the Silence this year. My session can be found in the youth stream, but there are also sessions on health, education, and research. We’ve also got Ivan Coyote presenting the keynote the night leading into the conference. If you’ve never heard her, I’d say it’s time you did. She is absolutely fantastic, and has created a new performance piece specifically for this years conference entitled “As Good as We Can Make it: On bullying, collective responsibility, and actually making it better.” It should be amazing.
So yeah! Check it out! You can find all the details at: http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/index.htm And this year there is even online registration (with different price schedules to fit most any budget – including students and the under-employed). Want to know more? Feel free to ask. Otherwise, I’ll plan to see you there!
So, it appears Canada is again on the chopping block thanks to Harper. Our flags once waved proud, but now are just as often full of disgrace. This newest measure allows discrimination based on gender, going so far as to allow airport security the right to allow or deny access to individuals based on their gender.
Under section 5.2(1)(c) of the Aeronautics Act:
“An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if: the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents.”
Why is this an issue? Because for many Trans individuals the sex on their passport may not coincide with their gender. There are very strict rules in place for changing the sex on your international identification that only a very small segment of the populace qualifies for. These rules make it impossible for non-operative Trans people to have the M or F on their documents changed to reflect their actual gender. A better solution, if this wording is to remain in place would be to allow for an “Other” designation. Gender is, after all, a social construct that has nothing to do with an individuals sex (which, lets be honest, also has more than two possibilities). Alas, we are stuck in a society that appears to enjoy this incorrect, yet entrenched, gender binary.
This goes even farther though. The instant we allow those with limited power the ability to select who qualifies as female and who as male – based on how they present, we are opening ourselves up for all sorts of abuses. Gender is a social construct that changes with time. It used to be that we dressed our long haired little boys in pink dresses, while the girls wore blue.
What happens when the thirteen year old girl, with short cropped hair, wearing low rise baggy pants and a jersey is denied access to a plane to fly home to her parents after spending part of the Summer with her grandparents? This policy gives airports the right to determine who is female enough, or male enough to board their planes. The potential abuses this brings forward are downright scary. Don’t think for a second that because you are not a genderqueer, or trans individual, or because you don’t have a gender creative child that it won’t affect you. This is something that has the potential to harm us all. Will we all have to don a dress and kerchief in order to be female enough to avoid speculation? It’s a scary idea. Men, don’t even think about wearing that salmon coloured shirt, you too may be pulled for questioning regarding your gender presentation. Is this really a slope we even want to start on?
There is a petition here: http://www.petitiononlinecanada.com/petition/tell-harper-to-allow-trans-people-to-fly-on-airplanes/758 Add your name, and let Harper and his yes men know that you are saying NO to this government sanctioned discrimination. And for more information and ideas on what you can do to combat this, check out what Chris Milloy has to say here: http://chrismilloy.ca/2012/01/transgender-people-are-completely-banned-from-boarding-airplanes-in-canada/
I logged in today specifically to write more about Women and the fight to challenge societies notions of what and who we are to be. So it was seemingly appropriate to discover the following when I clicked on WordPress in my toolbar:
Of course, WordPress isn’t protesting on behalf of gender issues, it’s doing so to help prevent the potential screening and censoring of content on the web. Another important issue that could affect us all. But in all honesty, these repeating black boxes got me thinking. Children are essentially raised to be censored.
As a society we don’t raise our children to be radical free thinkers out to change the rules and defy convention. We raise our children to fit in, to maintain the status quo, to work within the system, to be censored – by us, by society, by themselves. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Colour within the lines.
Present yourselves as society deems appropriate.
Working on the Power of SHe project has been challenging if for no other reason than I am forcing myself and my models to defy convention. There are many shots that I have set up in my mind, but finding women brave enough and strong enough to participate with me is hard. I don’t want airbrushed, magazine ready bodies. I want real women, PERFECT in their natural, untended, and even derelict form. Mother’s aprons, scars, celluloid, stretch marks – part of lives well lived. Time for them to be celebrated not censored. Love yourself in your decrepitude. It’s time to teach our daughters a new standard of beauty, one free of censored black boxes and filled with the rosy pink hues of love.
Get involved! I need you! Please.
You can drop me a line any time to volunteer for this project – photographer at tobi-dawne dot com
Let’s break free of the black boxes society insists on using to mask and muffle us. Embrace all it is to be a Woman, and celebrate in your own flesh!