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Hey folks, go sign the letter at the Feminist Current to the BC NDP calling for a response to questionable actions of its VP.

 

This letter was sent to all addressees, via email, on February 2nd. A response was requested within seven days. To date, we have not received a response.

ATTN: The New Democratic Party of British Columbia (BC NDP);
The BC NDP Provincial Council;
Premier John Horgan;
Craig Keating, President, BC NDP;
Erin Arnold, Outreach Director, BC NDP Women’s Rights Committee;
Sheila Malcolmson, NDP Critic for the Status of Women;
Sheri Benson, NDP Deputy Critic for LGBTQ2+ Issues

Dear Sirs and Madams,

We — the undersigned — are Canadians deeply concerned with recent public statements and behaviour on the part of Morgane Oger, Vice President of the BC NDP.

On January 20th, Women’s Marches took place across North America. Initially fuelled by anger over Donald Trump’s election and boasts of sexual misconduct, this year the #Metoo campaign galvanized women around the world towards solidarity and action. No longer can we deny that women and girls everywhere continue to suffer abuse and harassment in every arena of life, at the hands of men.

In Vancouver, one woman who attended the march carried a sign reading:

“Transwomen are men. Truth is not hate. Don’t believe the hype — trans ideology is misogyny and homophobic. Woman is not a ‘feeling,’ a costume, or a performance of a stereotype. Woman is a biological reality. There is no ethical or moral reason to lie to soothe the male ego.

Do not cis-gender me. Stop the stereotypes. I am neither conforming nor non-conforming. My preferred prefix is neither cis nor trans. I am a female. Resist Orwellian Newspeak.”

After being posted to social media, a photo of the woman holding this sign went viral. She was subjected to numerous threats of violence and death as a result.

Oger shared the image online as well, publicly requesting the identity and address of the woman, stating intention to file a human rights complaint against her. On Facebook, Oger wrote:

“Apparently not everyone at the Vancouver Women’s March was equally enlightened about why trans women are women… A concerned citizen passed this photo on to me. This is hate speech. Anyone know who this person is? I’d like to speak to her.

… That person in the photo is free to have beliefs and to express those beliefs without breaking the law. I feel that she has overstepped. What this person has done is take things to the next step, like publishing it in a newspaper or distributing it in mailouts. I believe that what she has done is prohibited in BC. She is invited to contact me for a chat or email my office at morgane@morganeoger.ca.”

In a comment on the same post, Oger wrote:

“Who is a woman in Canada and British Columbia is not based on their plumbing but on our gender identity. Women are women because we say we are. Attributes usually associated with women are protected for all women, whether they possess them or not, like plumbing or biological function. We have six months for somebody to file a complaint against this woman on the basis of gender identity. But to do this, who she is needs to be known. If somebody knows who she is please email me the information at morgane@morganeoger.ca

These comments equate to a public threat and defamation, and have led to further harassment of the woman in the photo. Oger has knowingly continued to fuel these threats and this harassment through ongoing, numerous posts on social media. We wonder why the BC NDP has yet to take action on this behaviour? In this case, the statements are particularly disturbing, as they have put an individual woman’s life and livelihood in danger.

Oger has referenced a “team of lawyers” on social media numerous times. One tweet read:

“The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld human rights tribunal rulings about hate speech twice. My legal team is confident that the act of publishing hateful material is the only test in this case and the material on that sign matches the hate test.”

In another, Oger stated:

“There are laws put in place to protect transgender people from transphobia. One such law bans the publishing of hate in public. I expect Canada’s laws to be applied.”

We are curious to know who this “team of lawyers” is and how they are being financed. Either Oger is in a financial position to hire a “team of lawyers” to bully and silence women who cannot afford such a luxury, or the lawyers in reference are the BC NDP’s legal team. Is the BC NDP using its government resources to persecute and harass citizens who disagree with their representatives? Does the BC NDP support Oger’s intention to potentially impoverish a woman by forcing her to hire “a team of lawyers” to defend her right to hold a sign Oger does not like at a women’s protest march?

We are concerned by these tactics and an expressed desire to silence those whose opinions conflict with those held by the Vice President of the BC NDP. We are concerned that many people have refrained from commenting on Oger’s behaviour or addressing it for fear of retribution, in large part due to the way Oger has responded with regard to this particular woman and her sign. Oger is leveraging political power in a deeply troubling way, with intention to intimidate fellow NDP members and constituents into fear and silence.

Politicians should expect that people will disagree with them — that is par for the course. But politicians should be gracious and deferential to their critics when those critics are just members of the public. Potential voters are being insulted, demeaned, bullied, and smeared by a representative of the NDP. This is not how Canadian politicians should handle conflict and disagreement. Instead of engaging in meaningful, principled debate, Oger invites and escalates conflict, is unable to negotiate or reach consensus with a large portion of voters, defames and insults them, targets individuals with relentless harassment and smear campaigns, and advocates that real, material harm be inflicted on them (i.e. loss of job, reputation, criminal charges, financial ruin, etc.). We would ask whether the BC NDP believes that this behaviour is reflective of the Party’s values, and the values of its constituents.

The woman who is being intimidated by Oger was expressing ideas and sentiments that are important and meaningful to her and to many other members of the Canadian public. All Canadians should feel comfortable expressing ideas that are meaningful and important to them, free from intimidation, bullying, and harassment.

“Gender identity” itself remains vaguely defined. It rests on an ideology that claims gender is innate, when in fact gender roles are socially imposed, based on biological sex, as a means to normalize the hierarchy that exists between men and women under patriarchy. Women’s sex-based rights, on the other hand, rest on material reality: we know that women in our society are discriminated against and subjected to male violence on account only of having been born female. We have judgments protecting women from discrimination based on things like pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, and breastfeeding, on the explicit reasoning that only one sex gives birth and only one sex breastfeeds. The notion that males can actually be female if they “feel” it or if they emulate feminine stereotypes conflicts with women’s sex-based rights as it not only reduces “woman” to something intangible and undefinable, but claims women’s oppression is rooted in “feeling” or personal identity rather than on biological sex. Challenges to the concept of “gender identity” should be not only acceptable but encouraged.

We expect the BC NDP to condemn their Vice President’s actions and behaviour and request that Oger cease and desist. In Canada, we expect our political representatives not to engage in the public bullying of women or in coordinated harassment campaigns against those they disagree with, and we expect them to refrain from threatening constituents. The BC NDP should let its Vice President know — and women in general — that bullying and censorship are not party values.

To add your name to the list of signees please click here.

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How I Teach Men Not To Talk Over Me: from one feminist to another, when basic respect is lagging and conversations are impossible

I’ve done this to several men, and they catch on rather quickly. You’ll be able to have a conversation right then and there, and it works long term too – they might’ve forgot their manners by the time you talk to them again, but by repeating this, they’ll eventually learn to let you talk without you having to do this at the start of every convo. Source: I have a very stubborn older brother, who eventually learned too.

1. When they interrupt you, stop talking. Don’t try to raise your voice or battle them. Be completely quiet and wait.

2. Ignore everything they’re saying. Do not actually listen – just wait until they shut up. Don’t make a point of anything they say, do not answer to anything they say, do not refer to anything they say here. Literally do not listen a single word. Let them rant as long as they want.

3. When they finally shut up and wait for your reaction, say: ”I wasn’t done talking.”

4. Start over whatever you were saying when they interrupted you. I don’t care if it was a 10-minute explanation of rocket science. Start. Over. Repeat you original thought, but do not add anything related to what they just said while talking over you. That gives them the idea that it’s okay to interrupt you, you’ll still listen and pay attention and they’ll get their point clear without having to listen to yours. (It’s especially funny when you get done and they expect you to keep going talking about whatever they talked over you. The face when it sinks in that you didn’t listen a single word is glorious.)

5. If they interrupt you again, return to step 1. If you find yourself repeating the cycle over 3 times, tell them: ”you’re not letting me speak. Either you listen and wait for your turn, or our conversation ends here.” If they try to make excuses, laugh it off or keep interrupting, end the conversation. Prove them that if they wont let you speak, they’re not worth your time.

Why does this work? First, because sometimes talking over is internalized and men don’t actually notice they’re doing it. Being vocally called out makes them realize it and pay attention to it – especially if it happens more than once. Secondly, by refusing to acknowledge anything they say when they interrupt you, they’ll soon realize they will not get their own point across if they keep doing that. People and especially men have the need to be heard and paid attention to when they talk – when you make it clear that by talking over you, they will not have your attention, they’ll learn to wait until you’re done, because they know that’s when you will be paying attention and actually listening.

Go my darlings. Have some actual conversations where your point of view is just as valid as his. Demand the basic respect of being heard. You can actually have some interesting conversations with men when they’re forced to listen too, when being louder is not going to make them feel like they’re dominating the conversation or winning the argument.

 

    Entrenched patriarchal attitudes and norms are the enemy.  Pervasive, ‘invisible’, and yet ubiquitous.  The battles that must be undertaken are fraught with notion of the permanence of patriarchy and how unassailable it seems.

It isn’t.   Just reaching one person and showing them the way is a victory, savour it and use it to power the next task at hand.

I felt as if I had to put a little inspiration before this quote of the day, as it is a bit on the disheartening side, but necessary to see the breadth of the task at hand.

“The female “gender-blenders” interviewed by Devor (1989) can help us see how women’s ambivalence about being female usually tends to reinforce patriarchy. These women clearly identified with men. They dressed like men, and they viewed women as most men view women— inferior. They showed strong devaluation of femaleness and of the subordinate behaviors assigned to women by the male-dominant culture. Their strong rejection of the feminine role for themselves was related to their strong acceptance of the message, presented to them by older family members, that females are sexual objects, are subordinate, and are deficient in comparison to men.

 It is probably impossible for women not to internalize men’s denigration of femaleness and femininity to some extent. For example, both the women who adopt the feminine role for themselves and the genderblenders described by Devor have internalized the notion that females are subordinate. Neither group questions male culture’s definition of femaleness and femininity. The gender-blender challenges the belief that she is a subordinate but not the belief that women as a group are subordinate.”

Dee L. Graham with Edna I. Rawlings and Roberta. K. Rigsby, Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men’s Violence, and Women’s Lives (1995), p.167-168. [PDF]

   I like the pull quote from the article, but the much of what Happonen asserts is quite contentious.  Read the full article on The Feminist Current.   This is sort of my hope for the New Year – not the abandoment of psychology persay – but women coming together and organizing against the structures in society that oppress them.  The first step, as in any revolution, is to meet and talk with people who share your oppression and realize that you are not alone in the struggle against it.  

 

     “Ironically, it is often a mental block that hinders so many young women from being effective feminists. But that block is not anxiety, depression, or stress — rather, it is the idea that our emotions and problems are personal, and to be overcome on our own. We have to let go of the idea that the wrong is with us, and not with the world. We have to reach out and organize in real life, help each other, be supportive and understanding, listening and empathetic, tolerant and kind, but also firm and truthful. We must understand that we are all hurt, frustrated, and angry — and that this is not something we have to deal with alone.

    I urge young feminists who feel powerless and frustrated to meet each other in real life. Look for established feminist groups in your city or area to join, women’s shelters to volunteer in, reading circles, book clubs, self-defence classes — and if you can’t find any, start your own group. Be each other’s support network and strength, show up to rallies and demonstrations in groups; make signs, slogans, stickers, and pamphlets to distribute together; organize activities and protests. I strongly encourage having ties to older women, in order to learn from their experience and knowledge, though it is equally important to act independently as a new generation of feminists and form our own networks. I was able to find friends and eventually form a feminist organization, aimed at facilitating women-separatist spaces, through radical feminist forums on Facebook and blogs on Tumblr. Dare to take the next step and meet up in real life. Join the organizations and groups you’ve been eyeing forever. Push yourself to go out and meet new women.

Our goals should not be self-empowerment or self-improvement, but the liberation of womankind.”

Nice to see a man, even if just in the movies, defer to competence.

If not, let me top you up.

Oh men, so fragile, so vulnerable. All the feelz for you!

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