Blog

BELL HOOKS WILL SAVE US ALL FROM THE LONG, SLOW DEATH THAT IS POPULAR FEMINISM

On Tuesday, The New School hosted a conversation between bell hooks, Marci Blackman, Shola Lynch, and Janet Mock, titled “Are You Still a Slave? Liberating the Black Female Body.” The conversation explored representations and images of women of colour in the media. bell hooks was one of my earliest influences. Every time a woman — young or old — asks me for a solid place to start, I recommend hooks. I’m just so grateful for her. The whole conversation is very insightful and I recommend you watch it in its entirety. In the early part of the conversation, hooks talks a lot about Twelve Years a Slave, which she said, on the Melissa Harris-Perry show, was “sentimental claptrap.” I haven’t actually see the film, so I can’t speak to...
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Blog

Why has drag escaped critique from feminists and the LGBTQ community?

I don’t intentionally go to many drag shows. Not as a political or even personal decision — in fact, it’s not really something I’ve thought about all that much. I suppose that form of entertainment simply has never interested me. That said, it’s been around for so many years that these performances are practically mainstream — many a documentary has been made about drag culture and drag queens and drag performances are often a part of gay/queer nights, fundraisers, and other events. It’s pretty impossible to have missed drag. But because it isn’t very much a part of my world, I think it’s escaped my radar in terms of a feminist analysis. The other night I was at a bar for a gay night and a portion of the...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Cherry Smiley on Indigenous feminism, colonial violence and the sex industry

In this episode we hear a talk by Cherry Smiley. The talk is part of a series on Indigenous Feminism, put on by the First Nations Student Association at Simon Fraser University. Cherry is a front line anti-violence worker, an accomplished artist, activist, and public speaker. She is a co-founder of Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry and was the recipient of a 2013 Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case. Cherry is currently completing a Masters of Fine Arts degree, her art practice is one that is deeply passionate and inherently political, grounded in her experiences as an Indigenous woman, radical feminist theory, and in the teachings handed down to her by her Elders. This year, she exhibited Revolution Songs, an installation that focused on the...
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In prostitution, ‘race, class, and sex intersect in the worst of ways to subjugate Native women’

Last month CTV News aired a short documentary as part of their “First Story” series, called “Stepping from the Shadows,” which looks at indigenous women and prostitution, the Bedford decision, and how the future of Canada’s prostitution laws could impact indigenous women and girls in Canada. The documentary features women such as Jackie Lynne, Cherry Smiley, Summer-Rain Bentham and Mona Woodward, who describe the ways poverty, racism, sexism, and violence lead indigenous women into prostitution and keep them there. “Race, class, and sex intersect in the worst ways to subjugate Native women — and in the act of prostitution it’s the most racist, the most sexist… And the man holds all of the economic power in that,” Lynne says. Indigenous women and girls are overrepresented in street prostitution and...
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Blog

Press release: Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry Continue to Fight for the Abolition of Prostitution

As Indigenous women and girls who have experienced centuries of colonial male violence, the decision by The Supreme Court of Canada to strike down the existing prostitution laws comes as no surprise. Our histories, our laws and traditions, and our worldviews have been purposefully omitted from the Supreme Court decision. Once again, not only our voices, but our bodies and our lives have been dismissed as inconsequential. As women and girls indigenous to this land, who have resisted centuries of colonial oppression, we assert our right to our lands, cultures, laws, and body sovereignty. We reject any ruling that interferes with these unalienable rights. We pledge to continue in the proud tradition of our Mothers and Grandmothers and to continue to fight for our children and grandchildren.We are in...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Jollene Levid on “Asian Girlz” and the stereotyping and fetishization of Asian and Asian American women

“Asian Girlz,” a song released by the band “Day Above Ground” has been called the most racist song ever. The lyrics are essentially a list of racist and sexist stereotypes about “feng shui,” “spicy tuna sashimi,” and “creamy yellow thighs” and the video features a sexualized Asian woman, played by Levy Tran, who is shown in various states of undress, dancing around in lingerie, and naked in the bathtub. Aside from the song being completely and utterly awful, musically, it is unbelievably racist, amounting to a five minute long mockery of Asian people. AF3IRM — The Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism, Re-feudalization, and Marginalization — sprang to action and successfully petitioned YouTube to remove the video. I spoke with Jollene Levid, national chairperson of AF3IRM, about the song...
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Men, Feminism, Race, Movements and the Cult of Hugo Schwyzer: An Interview with Ernesto Aguilar

Hugo Schwyzer, a Pasadena City College (Calif.) instructor promoted in some circles for his work related to gender, has been at the center of an online controversy since December when he disclosed an attempt to kill an ex-girlfriend. The Atlantic recently covered the story, for those not familiar with Schwyzer or the incident in question. The story, the defense and the reactions since have created many debates about men in feminism, forgiveness and violence against women. The following is the transcript of an interview conducted by writer and radio host Meghan Murphy. A shortened version of the interview aired Feb. 27, 2012 on Vancouver Co-op Radio. This transcript is of the full interview. Further thoughts to add to this discussion: I have not written or spoken much about the...
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Who does decriminalization leave out?

This article was originally written for and published in Sister Outsiders, issue #4: What you won’t hear inside the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.   Decriminalization is touted, by many, as the most progressive way to address prostitution. From our local left-wing politicians to feminist academics to the media, this option is often presented as though it is the only one. Arguments in favour of decriminalizing prostitution tell us that this model will help women, that it will provide agency and options, and that it will empower women and improve lives. These arguments don’t tell the whole story. Decriminalization, is, in fact, a misleading label. Placed in opposition to abolitionists – who advocate for the decriminalization of prostituted women, while criminalizing only the pimps and johns – those who...
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