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Posts Tagged ‘protest’

 

FLF Co-chairs Carla and Eli, along with members Mary-Ellen and Leila attended this year’s Slutwalk march in downtown Winnipeg. While the crowd was a little smaller this year (as compared to last), the sentiment remained positive and empowering. A commonly held misconception about the Slutwalk movement is that, rather than conveying any particular message, it’s really just an over the top, outrageous display of exhibitionism.

Two years in, we’re happy to report that this is far from the case. Sure, people are welcome to wear anything they’d like (that is part of the idea), but most people don’t attend the event because they want an excuse to whip out their nipple tassels. To the contrary, the focus is far from what people are wearing. Rather, the event centres on making a powerful, united statement against victim blaming in all its forms.

A shorter march this year meant there was more time for speakers, and these were speakers worth listening to. Those who spoke at last year’s Slutwalk set a very high bar, and this year’s speakers met that challenge. Starting with Chandra Mayor (who spoke brilliantly last year as well; you can read her tremendous speech about the word ‘slut’ here), the tone was set for thoughtful reflection, incredibly brave personal story telling and accept-zero-bullshit activism and advocacy. Mayor was followed by several women who told their own stories with grace and grit.

There is something incredibly powerful about both the telling and the hearing of these stories; for those who have been lucky enough not to be touched by sexual assault, it lends a striking air of reality to a devastating issue. For those who have been assaulted, there is hopefully some comfort in knowing they are not alone. Perhaps the lasting contribution that Slutwalk will make will be to provide a safe, public forum for victims of sexual assault to stand up and declare, “This was not my fault,” and for other people to hear it.

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The Dalhousie Law Students Society has passed a resolution formalizing their opposition to Bill C-10, also known as the Safer Streets and Communities Act. They have declared their solidarity with the Canadian Bar Association, which recently released a 100 page report detailing why they oppose C-10. Dal’s LSS also encourages other law student groups to follow suit. Read all about it here.

Is this something the FLF should get involved with? Or Robson Hall generally? Let us know what you think!

 

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Lately at the FLF, we’ve been talking a lot about the triumphs and tragedies of being an activist. Luckily, as it turns out, there’s plenty of inspiration out there to keep us going.

Dayna heard this great interview on the Current (CBC Radio1) on Tuesday, and thought to share it. Thanks Dayna! It features American Olympian John Carlos, who in 1968 used the Olympic podium as a political platform. It turned out to be a very controversial move. Check out the interview here, and hear Carlos describe his experiences as an activist in an unexpected forum.

john carlos web.jpg

On a slightly lighter note, I (Eli) have also noticed that inspiration and motivation can come from less… serious sources. Making my breakfast this morning, I enjoyed a dance-party-for-one to the (I think) classic ‘anthem’ None of Your Business by Salt n’ Peppa. I can’t say I’m 100% sure about their intended message, but it did make me think of issues like cross-examining a complainant in sexual assault case on her previous sexual history. Seriously! Anyway, have a feel-good dance party of your own here.

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At our post-slutwalk discussion on Saturday, one of our rad new members, Carla, mentioned the Miss Lonelyhearts column from the previous day’s Winnipeg Free Press. The headline, she said, read “He Didn’t Rape You; You Were Too Lazy to Say No“. No one else had seen it, but we were all pretty horrified by Carla’s description of it. When the rest of us were able to have a look , we were even more disturbed by the tone taken by Miss Lonelyhearts. While the headline itself reads like a slap in the face to anti-victim blaming efforts, Miss Lonleyhearts also provided no crisis counselling information and seemed to have no notion of the actual definition of consent as being not only active but willing. The issue here is not whether this man would be convicted of sexual assault on the facts we have available, but rather that the tone of the response is a perfect example of out-dated and damaging attitudes towards unwanted sex.

Winnipeg Free Press

Here is a link to the column. And, becuase it will likely be archived in the next few days, we’re reproducing the question and response below.

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He didn’t rape you; you were too lazy to say no

By: Miss Lonelyhearts

Posted: 10/14/2011 1:00 AM

DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I had unwanted sex with a guy because he was begging me, and then afterwards I felt it was not something I really wanted. I felt forced because he broke down my resistance. I just finally gave in after all that begging and took him down the hall to my bedroom to get it over with, so he’d go home. It was a charity thing, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t have done it with him if he hadn’t begged and seemed so pathetic. Is breaking down resistance a form of rape? — Just Wondering, Winnipeg

 Dear Wondering: No. This was certainly not rape and not something you would want to send anyone to jail for. It was your decision. You weren’t forced; you were too lazy to take him to the door and say bye-bye. He may have bugged you until you DECIDED it was easier to say yes than to say no, but he didn’t force you. You also called it a “charity” thing — giving your body to him and taking his — inferring you felt sorry for him. That’s no reason to have sex.

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A few members of the FLF have been talking about this, why it seems so wrong, and what to do about it. A letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press is in the works, but we also thought it was important to share it with others. If you have any thoughts, please share them!

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Thanks to everyone who joined us for Slutwalk yesterday! It was a lovely sunny day for a well-attended, organized and thought-provoking event. And our discussion was really great, too! If you weren’t able to make it out yesterday,we’d still love to hear your thoughts . About three hundred Winnipeggers came out and attended the annual Slut Walk in downtown Winnipeg Saturday, October 15, 2011. (John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)

The FLF’s very own Meghan Menzies, as well as Robson Hall’s Professor Karen Busby, were both quoted in a feature length article about Slutwalk by Melissa Martin in the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday. Check it out!

Here’s looking forward to lots more fun and interesting FLF events to come. (On that note, don’t forget about Take Back the Night — this Thursday October 20th at MERC!)

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Well, Winnipeg’s first Slutwalk is tomorrow, and we at the FLF have been thinking a lot about this event. Likely along with many Winnipeg feminists, we are sorting out our feelings on the march, and trying to decide where we stand and why. Its a complicated issue, but perhaps that’s a good thing, as some great feminist discussion can come from it. Is the walk a great opportunity to take to the streets with an anti-victim blaming message? Is the attempt to “reclaim” the word slut simply another patriarchy fueled attempt to satisfy the male gaze? Can you march for anti-victim blaming while not knowing where you stand on the issue on the word slut itself? Does the movement fail to account for the different experience of low-income, Aboriginal and/or racialized women?

Read some commentary from different perspectives here (Note that the FLF doesn’t necessarily endorse or share these views, its all just food for thought):

From Melissa Martin at the Free Press, featuring Robson Hall’s own Karen Busby and the FLF”s own Meghan Menzies: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/hear-us-roar-131910393.html

From our friends at FemRev: http://uniter.ca/view/6574/

From the always insightful Marlo Campbell at Uptown:

http://www.uptownmag.com/news-and-views/marlo-campbell/To-slut-or-not-to-slut-131619883.html

http://www.uptownmag.com/news-and-views/and-another-thing/Reclaim-it-We-dont-want-it-131620213.html

A comment from the American adoption of Slutwalks: http://queerblackfeminist.blogspot.com/2011/10/endorsing-critique-of-slutwalk.html

Out of theUK:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/08/slutwalk-not-sexual-liberation

And finally, the Globe & Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/slutwalk-sparks-worldwide-protest-movement/article2017672/

Remember – if you’ve got questions or answers, the FLF is meeting at Second Cup on River at Osborne at 4:30 on Saturday, October 15th, to discuss Slutwalks.  And if you want to march, look for the girls in the baby blue FLF t-shirts at the Burton Cummings Theatre at 2:00 pm.

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Feminist activists united in Toronto this past weekend for a self-proclaimed “slut walk” to protest the sexism that still persists in policing and justice around sexual assaults. This protest is particularly interesting because it was spurred by comments made by a police officer while speaking to students at Osgoode Hall. The turn-out was huge – reported to be over 3,000 people. But one has to wonder – why did it take over two months after the comments were made? And how many law students joined in the protest? One would hope that the law students were at the fore of organizing this march, but my own current pessimism around whether or legal education encourages us to confront sexism or simply teaches us how to use the law to reinforce it has left  me doubtful. I am relieved that staff and students at York demanded an apology, but a little activism from the legal community can go a long way. On this note, if you are a law student at Osgoode who participated in the march, or in other activism around this event,  please let us know! In the meantime, here’s what the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode had to say: http://ifls.osgoode.yorku.ca/2011/02/what-not-to-wear/

And a Globe report on the march: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/women-walk-the-talk-after-officers-offending-slut-remarks/article1969430/

Election fever is back in Canada – or with the current apathetic climate, more of an election cold, or perhaps just an election sniffle. There’s lots of talk happening on the campaign trail, but notably missing (at least from media reports) are feminist issues. While Stephen Harper said today that a majority Conservative government would avoid socially conservative moves like cracking down on abortion, this shouldn’t stop us from questioning his government’s track record (or, for that matter, how it is possible for a government to limit access to abortion without making it illegal…) This government has been bad for equality, but that doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar. Examples are numerous, so why isn’t anyone talking about it? Let’s take a little tour of recent history:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2006/10/04/tory-funding.html

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-refuses-to-fund-abortion-in-g8-plan/article1547671/

(take this one with a grain of salt – its Liberal campaign literature)http://www.liberal.ca/newsroom/news-release/canadian-women-worse-years-harper/

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/abortion-pressure-target-of-bill-90919469.html

Let’s re-visit that last article for a moment – Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge introduced a private member’s bill in the house that would have seen coercing women to get an abortion become illegal. Many commentators believed this to be a “back-door” attempt to re-introduce the abortion debate, a move not supported by the PMO. So if the Conservative party itself rejected this, why does it matter? Well, Mr. Bruinooge is the MP for Winnipeg South, the riding that encompasses the U of M. In a way, all U of M students and staff are therefore also represented in Ottawa by Mr. Bruinooge. His approach to equality issues, and in particular abortion, is extremely troubling.

Bruinooge is chair of the parliamentary “pro-life caucus”. He once wrote to the National Post stating “”I have no choice but to advocate for the unborn and seek to have their value restored in my Canada. Our collective future depends on it.” His opinion piece in the National Post “Why I am Pro-Life” makes the analogy that since you can’t make the choice to sell your kidney on the black market because it is unethical, abortion too should be illegal. I would link this piece, but it seems to have disappeared from the National Post website in the last week.

Some things to think about!

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