The F-Word / Brantford

The F-Word is Laurier Brantford’s student, staff, and faculty committee on gender, diversity, and social equity issues. Contact us at wlu.fword@gmail.com.

Revisiting the Find Your Feminism Posters

Two years ago, the F-Word Committee made the following posters for the Laurier Brantford campus. What is your feminism?Image

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Peaceful vigil to honour the missing/murdered Aboriginal Women

WHAT: Peaceful vigil to honour the missing/murdered Aboriginal women. Strawberry Ceremony to honour our Sisters in Spirit. Special guests/speakers: Wonda Jamieson, Aileen Joseph, Manitou Mkwa Singers, Lacey Hill and other guests

WHEN: Thursday, February 13

TIME: 5:15 to 6 pm: Peaceful vigil at Main and King St., Hagersville, Ontario. 6:15 to 7 pm: Community Hall, Mississaugas of New Credit, 659 New Credit Road.

CONTACT: Valerie King, 519-802-7015 or dancingmoonca@yahoo.ca

Ms. Male Character: Tropes versus Women in Video Games

The latest in a series about women and gender in video games from our friends at Feminist Frequency.

Laurier students send an open letter to administration on gendered violence

Wilfrid Laurier University students Cassandra Mensah and Ethan Jackson, along with many of their colleagues, are worried about the campus and its students — and they really want the university administration to listen.

On December 6, Jackson and Mensah, with the support of current students and alumni, penned an open letter to the university administration and its student leaders on their concerns about sexual assault — and the university’s prevention measures — on campus. They addressed the notions around gendered violence, the gaps in the training and education of students and staff and their suggestions for the future in the letter.

“There is violence and trauma happening behind closed doors which needs to end. The violence we are discussing is the overwhelming instances of sexual assaults happening on and around our university campus,” the letter read.

Commenting on Laurier’s current policies and efforts to prevent sexual assault, the letter stated, “This is not enough in the active prevention of sexual assaults because it lacks the components of factual education and accountability.”

In an interview with The Cord, Jackson noted that he hopes the letter ignites an open discourse on campus about gendered violence and that new measures are put in place so that staff, faculty and students are well educated on the issue.

Read the whole story in The Cord.

Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection

Barnard College President Debora Spar, author of Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, recently spoke with with feminist media activist Jamia Wilson about how the drive for perfection affects young women today on the Dare to Use the F-Word podcast.

Since the release of Wonder Women several months ago, one of the questions that I’ve consistently been asked is “how is feminism different today? What do you hear on campus? Do young women want to be feminists, or not?”  It’s a complicated question, without an easy answer.  Because young women, of course, don’t speak with a single voice or share a common attitude.  Some are quick to embrace the term feminist.  Others despise it. And many – sadly, for the mothers and grandmothers who opened doors for them – no longer really have a sense of what the word implies.

My own view – shaped, I’m sure, by the particular environment of Barnard College, a staunch and early defender of feminism in all its many guises – is that most young women today are feminist in nature if not in name.  What I mean is that they implicitly assume that the goals that feminism fought for are theirs to claim.  They assume, for instance, that they will work, for pay, for at least long stretches of their lives.  They assume that all jobs – be they in finance or law or public office or industry – are open to them, and that they will receive roughly the same salaries as their male co-workers.  They assume that their bodies are theirs to enjoy, and treasure, and share as they wish.  They presume that birth control is widely available; that relationships are theirs to make, break, and determine; and that the world is every bit as open to them as it for their brothers.  In other words, they think, without even thinking about it, that they have equal rights with men.  Which was, after all, the central goal of feminism.

What they don’t do, necessarily, is credit the feminist movement for this state of affairs, or eagerly claim the label of feminist for themselves. This is perhaps unfortunate but also understandable.  Because how many young people generally race to thank their ancestors for bequeathing the world they did?  How many adolescents want to attach themselves to the same political causes as their parents or grandparents – especially when they feel as if those causes have already been fought for and won? Or as one older woman once expressed it to me:  how many hard-core feminists of the 1960s defined themselves as suffragettes?

Read the full post here.

Check out the Dare to Use the F-Word podcast here.

Gender, Trauma and Incarceration

The F Word invites you to attend a public talk about “Gender, Trauma and Incarceration” by Kelly Rose Pflug-Back on Monday, October 28 at 8:00 pm in SCJ 127.

Kelly Rose Pflug-Back is a writer, social activist and Laurier Brantford student. Her fiction, poetry and articles have appeared in places like Canadian Woman Studies, This Magazine, Write, The Huffington Post and many others. She has worked with a variety of harm reduction and anti-poverty initiatives including the Prisoner AIDS Resource Action Network, the Peterborough AIDS Resource Network and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. During 2012-2013 she served eight months in jail for involvement in Toronto’s G20 summit protests. Her first book of poems, These Burning Streets, was published with Combustion Books in 2012.

Pflug-Back will  discuss how the vast majority of incarcerated women in Canada, especially those who are Indigenous, report being survivors of intimate partner abuse, rape, childhood sexual abuse and other forms of gender violence. For women in prison, past experiences of trauma are often compounded by structural and direct forms of violence such as the denial of adequate health care, racial profiling, solitary confinement and physical and sexual abuse by prison staff. By understanding the relationship between patriarchal violence and the incarceration of women, we can enhance our understanding of the ways in which criminalization has lasting adverse affects upon women’s physical and mental health and safety, leaving them more vulnerable to future abuse, marginalization and further conflict with the law.

For more information, contact the F Word committee at wlu.fword@gmail.com.

“I’m not interested in teaching books by women,” says David Gilmour

I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.

– author and instructor David Gilmour in “David Gilmour on building strong stomachs” in Hazlitt

For reaction, see:

“Memo to David Gilmour: Teaching only books by ‘heterosexual guys’ does a huge disservice to your students,” by Jared Bland, The Globe and Mail

“U of T instructor under fire for shunning female writers,” by Graham Slaughter, The Toronto Star

“David Gilmour does not love female writers, does love himself,” National Post

“The loneliness of the old white male,” by Holger Schott Syme, Dispositio

“Why David Gilmour’s advice to ‘go down the hall’ isn’t so bad,” by Lucia Lorenzi, Rabble.ca

“Are you man enough for this dare, David Gilmour?” by Anne Theriault, Huffington Post Canada

“Feminist sandwiches and the professor who only teaches male authors,” by Adina Goldman, iVillage.ca

“Woman down the hall responds to David Gilmour,” Dangerous Words

“U of T English department head ‘appalled’ at Gilmour’s comments,” by James Bradshaw, The Globe and Mail

“As a student of David Gilmour, and a feminist, I say put away the rope,” by Rachel Bulatovich, The Globe and Mail

“The Gilmour Transcript,” Hazlitt

Ottawans strut through the capital in third annual SlutWalk

The dress code for SlutWalk is wear whatever you damn well please.

Dress like a superhero, march in your undies, bundle up in an oversized sweatshirt or anything in between and you’ll fit right in.

About 150 people gathered at the Human Rights Monument in downtown Ottawa on Sept 7 for the city’s third annual SlutWalk.

The diversity of clothing choices underscored the participants’ message — no matter what women wear, they are often blamed when they are harassed on the street or sexually assaulted, but perpetrators, not clothing, are to blame for violence against women.

“People are sexually assaulted regardless of what they’re wearing,” says Fateema Ghani, addressing the crowd before the march. “Men are sexually assaulted, children. You can’t really go up to a kid and say, ‘Yo, you were dressed like a slut.’”

Ghani, who helped to organize the event and served as the emcee, called for an end to victim blaming. “By definition, no one can ask to be raped,” she says. “It’s not about sex; it’s about power and violence, and nothing can take away your right to consent.”

Read the whole story at DailyXtra.

My son wears dresses; get over it

I’ve been a police officer for more than 15 years. I’ve been a detective and now I’m a senior officer who trains the new recruits out on the street. Before that I was a firefighter. Before that I played football in college after playing baseball and football in high school, and lettering my sophomore year. I like beer, classic trucks, punk music, riding my motorcycle and catching the game with my buddies. I’m a stereotypical “guy’s guy” and hyper-masculine to a lot of people, I guess. Which may be why it surprises them when they find out that my son wears dresses. And heels, and makeup. It surprises them even more when they learn that I’m cool with it. And at this point, I wouldn’t want him to change. Because, if my son liked boy stuff and dressed like a boy, he wouldn’t be my boy, he’d be like a stranger….

I don’t tell most of the guys who I work with at the police department about my son. It’s none of their business and I don’t trust them with the information. I don’t trust what they might think or say behind my back when they should just say it to my face. I don’t trust them with a kid as kick-ass and special as mine.

My close friends know. And I know that they are my close friends because they don’t give a shit. They don’t care what toys my son likes or how he chooses to dress. They just care that he is happy and healthy and that I’m being a good dad.

Read the whole post in The Atlantic.

Woman Falls 17 Stories to Her Death; AP Implies She Deserved It

Every urbanite’s worst nightmare came true for one New Yorker this week: Jennifer Rosoff, leaning against the railing on the balcony of her Upper East Side apartment, suddenly fell 17 stories to her death after the railing gave way. This is obviously horrifying and tragic. Rosoff was a media executive with stints at The New Yorker and Cosmopolitan on her resume. It’s outrageous that the owners of her building were so remiss in their balcony inspection duties. But if you skimmed the beginning of the Associated Press’s account of Rosoff’s accidental death, you wouldn’t get much information about Rosoff’s promising career or about the structural inadequacies of her balcony. Here are the first two paragraphs of the AP’s article about Rosoff:

A 35-year-old media executive on a first date plunged to her death Thursday after the railing on her 17th-floor New York City balcony gave way, police said.

Jennifer Rosoff went outside for a cigarette around 12:50 a.m. when she either sat on the railing or leaned on it. Her date told her that she probably shouldn’t do it, and then moments later, she apparently fell backward and landed on construction scaffolding at the first floor, authorities said. Police spoke to the man and no foul play was suspected.

Let’s break this down. According to the AP, the crucial facts you need to know about Rosoff right off the bat are that:

1. She was 35 and single.
2. She was a smoker.
3. She invited a man back to her apartment late at night on a first date.
4. The man warned her not to lean against the balcony, but she did it anyway.

The implication being that this smoking slut totally had it coming. A reader is left with the distinct impression that if Rosoff hadn’t invited her date inside, hadn’t gone outside to smoke a cigarette, and hadn’t defied the advice of the wise and logical man she was with, she would still be alive. According to the AP story’s subtext, the problem wasn’t that Rosoff’s balcony railing was shoddy and unsafe—it was that Rosoff defied gender norms by being unmarried at 35, by being sexually liberal, and by insisting on making her own decisions instead of deferring to men’s logic.

Read the whole post at Slate.com.

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