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: www.bwss.org

    Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre: www.wavaw.ca

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