This Week in Feminist News: May 8-14

Women walk along a corridor at the Los Angeles County women's jail. © 2013 Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Women walk along a corridor at the Los Angeles County women's jail. © 2013 Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

  • Mama’s Bail Out Day: Flowers and cards are great, but this year Black Lives Matter groups in the United States gave a much greater Mother’s Day gift to incarcerated mothers. Friday was Mama’s Bail Out Day. Organized by more than a dozen groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter and working together with Color of Change and Southerners on New Ground, Mama’s Bail Out Day raised a huge amount of money, most of which went to directly to paying the bail for incarcerated mothers who can not afford to buy themselves out. The rest went to providing services for those mothers and their children. As Pat Hussain, Co-founder of Southerners on New Ground, said of the mothers who were bailed out, “Money kept them in. Black love got them out.”                                                                    

Source: TIME, Black Lives Matter, Twitter, No More Money Bail, Human Rights Watch

  • Cultural Appropriation “Debate” Blows Up Canadian Media Scene: If you’re Canadian and you like to read the news, you may have noticed that this week has been a big giant clusterfuck for many of our primary news outlets. The trouble started when Hal Niedzviecki wrote a flippant and bizarrely out-of-touch editorial for Write, the magazine for the Writers Union of Canada, in which he argued that he didn’t believe in cultural appropriation. How convenient when you’re a white man! He further argued that the fear of cultural appropriation is at fault for CanLit’s predominance of boring, white voices, bafflingly failing to acknowledge that perhaps CanLit’s whiteness might have a little something to do with, I don’t know, systemic racism? Oh, and did I mention that this was in the Indigenous Issue of the magazine? Facepalm. Niedzviecki was swiftly reprimanded, resigned from his post, and the article was taken down, but not before a bunch of other white dudes jumped on board from basically every major media outlet we have. In the original article, Niedzviecki, who does now seem to recognize the seriousness of his error, called sarcastically for an appropriation prize which would award the best representations in literature of a culture that is not one’s own. Other white media dude bros decided to actually, seriously propose money towards this prize which was an admittedly stupid but definitely tongue in cheek reference in the original article. Still no mention of money for, I don’t know, writers of colour? First Nations Writers? Poor writers? LGBTQ+ writers? Hmm. 

    Source: Twitter, Toronto Star

Jake Mooney on Twitter made this round up and sarcastically suggested that freelancers not work for, well, what looks like a huge number of our major news outlets

Jake Mooney on Twitter made this round up and sarcastically suggested that freelancers not work for, well, what looks like a huge number of our major news outlets

  • Transphobic Vancouver Crisis Centre is Back at it Again: The name of this organization, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter, might jog your memory. You might remember the Kimberly Nixon incident. Kimberly Nixon is a trans woman who was rejected as a volunteer for the organization on the grounds that she had been socialized as a man and thus did not possess the necessary life experience to provide support to female survivors of rape. Hilla Kerner, a collective member, used such blatantly ignorant and unfeminist arguments as the following to justify their discrimination: "We know the embarrassment of having our clothes stained with blood from our period, the anxiety of facing an unwanted pregnancy and the fear of being raped, and we know the comfort of grouping with other women,” as if physical experiences that many cis women do not experience are the definitive features of womanhood and as if trans women are not just as and often more vulnerable to cis male violence. Nixon filed a formal human rights complaint against VRRS which eventually went all the way top the Supreme Court. VRRS is consistently transphobic and is frequently protested by feminist groups. Now Kerner and her organization are “concerned” that a federal transgender right bill that seeks to be passed may threaten the existence of women-only spaces (and by women, she means people assigned female at birth). Bill C-16 would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity and expression. It’s nearly impossible to imagine how any person who calls themselves a feminist could possibly find fault with protecting the lives and access of trans people, but Kerner, despite admitting that the bill is unlikely to affect her day-to-day operations, apparently has managed to find a way. Fortunately, more informed activists like Devon MacFarlane, the director of Rainbow Health Ontario, and Marni Panas, a badass trans activist from Edmonton are batting down her arguments fairly easily because, you know, they actually know what they’re talking about. Let’s hope this example of the very worst parts of second wave feminism doesn’t prevail this time. If you are in the Vancouver area and require support, some alternatives to VRRS are listed below. Both of these organizations have confirmed that their doors are open to trans people who need to seek their services or who wish to volunteer or find a career with them.

    Battered Women's Support Services:

    Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre:

Source: CBC, Vancouver Media Co-op

  • Record Number of Trans Candidates in BC Election: In better BC trans news, a record four candidates in the recent BC provincial election are transgender, representing each of the three major political parties. NDP candidate Morgane Oger of the Vancouver-False Creek has been particularly successful. While Oger lost her race narrowly, the margin was so small that the NDP have filed for a recount. Oger faced one discriminatory incident during her run, with a flyer distributed in her riding that argued against her based on her gender-identity, but the response from her riding and the other parties was swift and firm in its dismissal. Oger fortunately says that the incident was a huge exception to her general experience running, saying, "The reality is, in this constituency, nobody cares that I am transgender.” We love that more trans candidates are running for office in Canada and we love even more that they feel they are being considered based on their policies by the majority of constituents.

Source: CBC, Vancouver Courier

Morgane Oger, left, discusses her policies with a constituent on the False Creek seawall (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

Morgane Oger, left, discusses her policies with a constituent on the False Creek seawall (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

  • Ontario Government Continues to Push for Better Labour Laws: The Ontario Liberals are pushing for some pretty sweeping labour reforms, from a long sought after $15.00 minimum wage to better rights for part-time and temporary workers to easier paths to unionization in key low-wage careers, including many "pink-collar" jobs. This article by the Toronto Star might seem a bit boring (I have been known to yawn at the word “budget”, like it's some kind of deeply engrained Pavlovian response), but it’s definitely worth a read if you’re in Ontario and you work!

Source: Toronto Star

  • Nicki Minaj Continues to Pay Tuition for her Fans: In pop culture news, Queen of Rap Nicki Minaj has started paying her fans’ tuition en masse and is now in the process of setting up a foundation in order to better respond to the high number of requests. Her response came after the singer promised to fly fans out to her concert from anywhere in the world as a part of a contest and a fan jokingly asked if she could pay their tuition instead. Within a half hour, Minaj had selected thirty fans who proved their good grades and college admissions with scanned paperwork and sent the money, not just for tuition, but for textbooks and student loans too, promising to do so again soon. Minaj is all set to start a foundation to support her fans in their quest for higher education. Nicki not only speaks up for women and feminism on a regular basis, but she is now putting her words into action in a way that will make a huge difference in her fans lives.

Source: Twitter, Instagram, Toronto Star, Mic

"This makes me so happy . . . I'll do another impromptu payment spree in a month or 2 but pls know that I'm launching my official charity for Student Loans/Tuition Payments VERY SOON! You'll be able to officially sign up! I'll keep you posted! 🎀: -Nicki Minaj, Instagram

"This makes me so happy . . . I'll do another impromptu payment spree in a month or 2 but pls know that I'm launching my official charity for Student Loans/Tuition Payments VERY SOON! You'll be able to officially sign up! I'll keep you posted! 🎀: -Nicki Minaj, Instagram

This Week in Feminist News: International Women's Day

  • This week we were thrilled when we were invited to speak on a feminist panel to celebrate International Women's Day on CTV's national show Your Morning. However, after asking a few questions, we quickly learned they were looking for an anti-feminists vs. feminists debate to spur ratings. Not only that, but the two women confirmed to appear on the panel were affiliated with hateful MRA groups. As a result, we decided to decline and sent a strongly worded response (below) to the producer. It is our understanding that they cancelled the segment as a result of feedback from feminists. Later on, we heard on an episode of Canadaland that prominent Toronto writer Septembre Anderson was also asked to be on the panel. We've reached out to her to discuss the incident, so stay tuned for our conversation on an upcoming podcast episode. 
Our response to  Your Morning  when they requested we be on a panel with MRAs.

Our response to Your Morning when they requested we be on a panel with MRAs.

  • For International Women's Day, women around the world organized and celebrated in several ways, including striking for the day or wearing red in solidarity with A Day Without a Woman. (The Guardian)
  • Also on IWD, investment group State Street Global Advisors debuted their statue Fearless Girl, who faces down the iconic Charging Bull on Wall St. in New York City. The statue is seen as a symbol of hope for the advancement of women in the workplace. Unfortunately, rape culture persists and this weekend, photos of a man humping the statue (which depicts a roughly 6-year-old girl) went viral. (Toronto Star, Mic)  
Photo credit: Mark Lennihan

Photo credit: Mark Lennihan

  • Back in Canada, 338 women took over the House of Commons for the day, as organized by Equal Voice Canada. The organization works to encourage and enable women to enter politics. The women represent each of Canada's federal ridings and were chosen from 1,500 candidates. The delegates were diverse, smart and driven, and a quarter of them were Indigenous women. (Flare) 
Photo credit: Equal Voice Canada 

Photo credit: Equal Voice Canada 

  • Also this week, Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak thought it would be a good idea to defend the residential school system that tore apart families and contributed to generations of trauma in Indigenous communities. Beyak, who is a member of the Senate committee of Aboriginal Peoples, took a moment to recognize the "good deeds" of those who ran the residential school system, despite the very different findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. After a six year study, the Commission found that children who were a part of the residential school system suffered physical, sexual and mental abuse, and 6,000 of those children died from malnourishment or disease. (Toronto Star) 
  • In a historic move, Iceland became the first country in the world to require all private and public organizations with more than 25 staff to prove they offer equal pay regardless of gender. (The Globe & Mail)
  • Former Justice Robin Camp has resigned from the bench following the Canadian Judicial Council'S (CJC) ruling that Camp "showed obvious disdain for some of the characteristics of the regime enacted by Parliament in respect of sexual assault issues." While presiding over a rape case in 2014, Camp asked the victim why she couldn't "keep her knees together" and continuously called her the "defendant". (CBC) 
  • Following up on last week's post, the crown has appealed the verdict in the rape case against Bassam Al-Rawi in which the presiding Judge Gregory Lenehan said "a drunk can consent." The appeal is based on at least six grounds, all on the issue of consent. (CBC
  • We tried to end the week on a high note with Friday's 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Our latest episode of Underwire pays tribute to the feminist hero, discussing the impact Buffy had, good and bad, while also acknowledging several other more diverse and intersectional She-roes. 

Keep slaying, feminists. 



This Week in Feminist News: Injustice Abounds

  • We were horrified to learn defendant Bassam Al-Rawi was found not guilty by Judge Gregory Lenehan in a rape case in Halifax. Al-Rawi was accused of rape after a inebriated woman was discovered partially clothed and unconscious in the back of his cab. This follows other sexual harassment and assault complaints from two different women. Despite admitting what the court heard was "very disturbing" and "there's no question" the victim was intoxicated, the judge still ruled in favour of Al-Rawi and said, "This does not mean, however, that an intoxicated person cannot give consent to sexual activity. Clearly, a drunk can consent." University of Ottawa law professor Elizabeth Sheehy said Lenehan's verdict sent a dangerous message about consent. (CBC) 
  • In response to the case, and the dramatic rise in sexual assaults in Halifax cabs, Alana Canales has started #HailLadyCabs. Using the hashtag, her goal is to find women on Twitter who can pick up others who feel unsafe for free, including women-identifying and non-binary folks. So far, at least six women drivers have added the hashtags to their bios on Twitter. Volunteer driver Corinne Gilroy says more action needs to be taken, like late-night buses in Halifax. (Metro Halifax)

Photo credit: Jeff Harper for Metro

Photo credit: Jeff Harper for Metro

  • In 48 hours, two transgender women were murdered in New Orleans. Ciara McElveen was stabbed to death and Chyna Doll Dupree was shot and killed. McElveen's death is the sixth reported murder of a transgender woman in 2017. In response to the news, transgender woman and Tulane Drop-In Wellness Centre coordinator Syria Sinclaire said she was afraid to leave her home: "Trans women don't want any special privileges. We should have the right to live our lives open and free and not be taunted and traumatized by the general public if they don't approve." (Mic)
  • Last night, Canadian actress Wendy Olunike Adeliyi was denied entry at the Kingsway Theatre because she was carrying her backpack. Staff asked her to leave her backpack at the front counter, but she refused since she had a laptop and other expensive items inside. After offering to allow staff to go through her bag to ensure there was no food or alcohol, owner Rui Pereira called the police and claimed "a black woman woman is threatening us." This appears to be a pattern of abusive and belligerent behaviour by Pereira, who has numerous complaints against him online. This story is continuing to develop. (eBoss Canada). 
  • The Oscars took place on Sunday night and though there were several great moments and speeches against racism and xenophobia, Casey Affleck still won the award for Best Actor, despite the sexual harassment allegations against him. The only thing comforting us is that Canadian actress Brie Larson, who had to present the award to Affleck, seemed as displeased with his win as we were. Larson, who won her Best Actress award for playing an imprisoned rape victim in Room and has advocated for victims of sexual assault, refused to clap for Affleck. (BuzzFeed)
  • John R. K. Howard, a 19-year-old white man, was given no jail time despite being found guilty of "kicking a coat hanger up the rectum of a mentally disabled black teammate." Howard was sentenced to probation and community service, and may even have his conviction dismissed, in what supporters of the victim are calling a slap on the wrist and yet another example of white privilege. Despite the judge's sentencing, the victim's family is continuing to pursue a federal civil case. (NPR) 
Image source. 

Image source. 

Speaking of books, we've recently updated our Book Club page if you'd like to see some of the titles we've read so far. We'll continue to update it with our monthly selections. And let us know which books you think we should read next! 

Last but not least, thanks to everyone who attended our Galentines event on February 10th! With your support and donations we were able to raise $250 for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape! Find your photos and tag your friends on our Facebook page.

Love, TOFemCo 

This Week In Feminist News: Terror At Standing Rock

Standing Rock isn’t the first time Native Americans have stood up for our rights. It’s just the first time in recent history that the non-Native world has paid attention. Anti-Indigenous racism functions through erasure. For the American story to come true, as Native people, we can no longer exist. We cannot be seen. Whenever I hear people talk about the extreme violence perpetrated against Native Americans by the U.S. government, I hear even “educated” and “liberal” people talk about it in the past tense. As if it is over. As if we are all already dead. The well-kept secret is that the genocide against the Indigenous people of this land never ended. We are a strong and resilient people. We are still here.
— Rebecca Nagle, via Bitch Media

This Week In Feminist News: The World Post-Election

Have a safe and happy weekend + keep smashing the patriarchy!