Category Archives: Advocacy/Activism

On Epistemic Violence

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Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and while perusing my usual daily fare of blogposts and daily updates ( as well as thinking more of my research), I noticed  a bit of a trend. I think as activists/feminists/womyn we often get so caught up in championing our collective causes, that we are unaware of the universalizing, stereotypes and distortions that we might be replicating.

Mohanty defines epistemic violence as the violence of knowledge production, notably by white feminist in their writings on Africa, women in the global south and even feminism in the global south. Such epistemic includes the distortions, sterotyping and generalizaing of Third World women’s conditions, as they were all homogenously belaboured, lacking agency and needing saving.

 

The truth of the matter is that as we wage our collective battles against multiple forms of transnational oppression, especially in the constrained written nuggets of the world of social media, we need to be wary of not being complicit  in this epistemic violence. Writing from a position of privilege, either by virtue of geographical location and context, class, access, what have you,we need to be careful of making sweeping generalizations like ‘ African women and girls are the most oppressed group in the world’. Well..not always, and not all the time. In our enthusiasm to champion our causes we sometimes make reductionist statements to get people on board, kinda like those WorldVision ads. Yes, we want to bring people to the table, and yes we want others to be as passionate about the issues as we are, but at what cost? Are we ultimately replicating relations of inequality, and saying that African women need to be saved by rich people in the West. Or that I, as a privileged, Western educated, Western- located expert, can go back and save the people. This smacks a little of a messianic complex, and as women working for change we need to check our hubris at the door. That is not to say that we can not make change, but to bear in mind that people have their own solutions, knowledge and expertise, and that I women’s studies major, do not know everything about community development, international development or gender issues.

Love, love, and encouragement to everyone fighting the good fight in the academy, on the streets, and this world we love that is the blogosphere!

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Saddi Khali in Ottawa Neo-Negritude Expressions: Reclaiming Our Sexualities

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InSol: Womyn of Colour Collective, Agitate: Queer People of Colour, 3 Dreads and a Baldhead and Black Caucus presents…

Neo-Negritude poster-3

Neo-Negritude Expressions: Reclaiming Our Sexualities

Renowned artist Saddi Khali in Ottawa!!!!

“Let’s see ourselves beautiful again” Saddi Khali

The ultimate mix-master, Saddi Khali is a nationally respected New Orleans-born poet, performance artist, and photographer. He has worked for the last 20 years to blend the most effective mix of art and activism. Khali’s emergence on the field of photography has been groundbreaking. His images have been featured in ESSENCE Magazine and on the cover of the Random House book, Triksta and the instruction book, The Naked and The Lens.

Events Breakdown:

Friday 18th Nov
After Hours Party with Saddi Khali!!
Venue: The Legion
359 Kent Street (Kent and Gilmour)
Doors open at 9:00pm
dj yalla!yalla! and DJ Prufrock
Erotica readings, Bar and Refreshments available
Sliding scale $5-$10 at door

Saturday 19th Nov
Day- Reclaiming Our Sexualities workshop
Venue: Bruce House
251 Bank Street
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Donations at the door

Ottawa premiere of ‘Red Lips’ by Kyisha Williams.

Kyisha Williams is a vibrant, radical, black, queer, high femme, sex positive, activist, survivor, fighter and writer. She is a community organizer and support worker within black/queer/trans/racialized/criminalized /HIV+/HCV+ communities. She directed “Red Lips” [cages for black girls] her debut short film which explores black/racialized/criminalized/queer/trans identity and its relationship with the prison-industrial complex. It attempts to articulate links between interpersonal and systemic violence, while celebrating the ways in which we survive and celebrate ourselves.
Venue: Venus Envy
320 Lisgar
Time: 7pm
Donations at the door

Sunday 20th Nov
Black Sexualities Workshop with screening of documentary ‘Still Black’
Please note that our events are taking place during the Trans Day of Remembrance and the organizers of TDOR will be hosting a few events as well.

Directed by Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Still Black is a feature-length documentary that explores the lives of six black transgender men living in the United States. Through the intimate stories of their lives as artists, students, husbands, fathers, lawyers, and teachers, the film offers viewers a complex and multi-faceted image of race, sexuality and trans identity.

Here is the Official Website: Still Black

Venue: Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
233 Gilmour Street
Time: 1pm to 4pm
Donations at the door

From Friday 18th folks will be able to book and do private or group photoshoots with Saddi.

Check out his amazing work here: http://www.saddikhaliphoto.com/

*Bus tickets and childcare (advanced notice required) can be made available*

Print the pamphlet: Neo-Negritude pamphlet

THANK YOUUUU to our sponsors:
Womyn’s Centre (Carleton University)
Venus Envy
Pride Centre (University of Ottawa)
Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC)
Sexualities Department (Carleton University)
OPIRG-GRIPO, University of Ottawa
OPIRG Carleton University

Workshop on Positive & Healthy Sexuality for Young Women

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In An Era Of Sexting

workshop on healthy sexuality

March 12th 2011

Graduate Students’ Association Lounge, 6th floor Unicentre, Carleton University
10am – 6pm (includes mocktail hour)
In An Era Of Sexting Poster

The goal of this project is to engage with and help empower young immigrant and racialized women to discuss sexuality in a feminist, sex-positive, queer-positive and non-judgemental way.

Sex negativity disallows young people from being able to critically engage in discussions around their bodies, emotions and ideas around sex and sexuality.

Discussions around sexual consent, sex positivity and safe sex need to occur and need to be led by young women. Without their full participation, the story loses its relevancy and only assists in misdirection and the misconceptions around sex and sexuality.

This project intends to provide a safer space for young racialized and immigrant women to deeply engage in discussions around sex and sexuality- their fears, their excitements and their experiences and to develop appropriate and effective ways of addressing these issues from a young woman centered perspective.

Only 25 spots available!

For women aged 16-25

Bus tickets and childcare provided

To register, email Kimalee at wocinsol@gmail.com by March 8th 2011.

Brought to you by
Insol: Womyn of Colour Collective &
Carleton Association of Women and the Law

Funding generously provided for by:
Girls Action Foundation

The International Women’s Alliance

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International Women’s Alliance (IWA) Statement on March 8 Centennial of International Women’s Day

Uphold the Militant Tradition of March 8 International Women’s Day!
Advance the Struggles of Women Against Imperialist Attacks On Our Rights and Freedom!

The International Women’s Alliance (IWA) joins the world in celebrating the centennial year of the International Women’s Day and in remembering and honoring the legacy of women’s militant struggles for full emancipation. Women the world over must continue this proud tradition of fighting for women’s liberation, and contribute in moving forward the people’s struggles for national and social liberation, sovereignty and self-determination.

The spirit of unity and solidarity demonstrated by the women of Egypt and Tunisia in rising up against corrupt, repressive and reactionary governments subservient to the interests of the United States and other imperialist powers resonates around the globe. These women, marrginalized in their male-dominated societies, marched to the streets in the thousands, led crowds in the protest actions and actively called on the people to join the actions to put an end to the decades-long rule of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and their ruling cliques.

This new level of participation meant for women not only a chance to see the end of these hated regimes, but also an opportunity to challenge the old system based on patriarchy and other reactionary values that bind women to abuse, exploitation and violence. For their courage, we congratulate and salute these women who have joined their Palestinian sisters in keeping the fires of resistance burning in that part of the globe and beyond.

We likewise congratulate and salute the women and men all over the world fighting off the deterioration of social welfare and justice by protesting against the reduction of government spending on social services to bail out banks, financial institutions and multinational companies and to reconcentrate wealth in the hands of the few. In Asia and the Oceania, Europe, Latin America and North America, people are taking to the streets against budget cuts in education, health, housing and other social services.

The conditions that drove the women in Egypt, Tunisia and other countries to rise up are the same conditions the majority of women around the world are suffering from as the result of the worst economic and financial crisis of the capitalist system since the 1930s. More than half of the hungry and poverty-stricken people are women. Women workers are laid off as companies shut down or cut costs and are the first to be subjected to insecure and harsh working conditions as companies take advantage of the cheapest flexible labor available. Peasant and indigenous women face landlessness, displacement and militarization as capitalists target the mineral and natural resources in their ancestral lands for capitalist expansion causing unmitigated destruction of the environment and the ecosystems.

Millions of women are forced to migrate to other countries in search of livelihood, making them vulnerable to slavery, trafficking and other forms of harassment and abuse, as well as discrimination, racism and xenophobia. Their governments push them to migrate to stave off high unemployment, earn revenues through their remittances and pay off local and foreign debt.

As we celebrate the 100th year of the International Women’s Day this March 8, we call on the women of the world to unite and organize ourselves to oppose the extreme conditions of exploitation and oppression amidst the world capitalist crisis.

Let us draw inspiration from our forebears who fought and won victories for our basic rights and fight the forces and institutions that threaten to reverse these victories. Let us resist reactionary currents of neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, fundamentalism, patriarchy, racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia.

Let us strengthen our local and grassroots campaigns against exploitative and repressive political, economic and social systems. Let us resist US-backed authoritarian regimes which plunder the public coffers and burden the people with ineffective governments. We must not be deceived by the desperate attempts of the local ruling classes in cahoots with imperialist powers to appease the oppressed people through shallow and deceptive “reforms”, which will only prolong their sufferings from the impact of bankrupt globalization policies. We must resist their efforts to preempt the inevitable social transformation that the people have been aspiring for.

Let us strengthen the global militant women’s movement against our common enemy – imperialism and its aggression, war, occupation and intervention.

The International Women’s Alliance (IWA) calls on all its members and the women of the world to issue statements, organize and mobilize rallies, marches and other forms of protest actions on March 8 to assert our basic rights and freedoms and to advance the people’s struggles for national and social liberation. Let us show that women will never be silenced.

Long live the women of the world!
Resist imperialist plunder and war!
Advance the struggle for women’s liberation on to the 21st century!
Persevere in the fight for justice, equality, democracy, freedom and peace!
Move forward the people’s struggle for social and national liberation, sovereignty and self-determination!

The International Women’s Alliance (IWA) is an anti-imperialist global alliance of grassroots-based women’s organizations, institutions, alliances, networks and individuals committed to advancing national and social liberation and gender equality.

Join IWA! Email us at internationalwomensalliance@gmail.com

On Divestment, Supporting SAIA and “Seduction by Naive Activists”

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In the days both surrounding and immediately after the Carleton University Students Association (CUSA) council meeting on February 17th, where a divestment motion was to be debated, there was a plethora of articles both at Carleton and in the local press urging students not to support such a motion and to evade “ seduction by naive activists.” In addition, SAIA (Students Against Israeli Apartheid) was described as a “fringe group” or as “violent radicals”. We the InSol Womyn of Colour collective at Carleton University, one of the over twenty groups on the Carleton campus who support this motion, would like to contest this description of SAIA but above all to speak to why we support divestment at Carleton University. In addition, we would also like to tell those who describe the non SAIA supporters of the divestment motion as “misguided students,” that we would really appreciate not being spoken for.

InSol: Womyn of Colour collective is a united front of multi-ethnic women existing at many ends of the spectrum of colonial difference. We proudly identify as a dynamic fusion of critical, radical, anti-colonial, anti-racist, feminist women who stand in solidarity with the transnational struggle against ALL forms of oppression.

We support the divestment motion for the following reasons which are stated below in no particular order. Firstly, because we do not want our tuition money being used to support war profiteers, whose sinister “technologies” are used for harm around the world. In addition, we are in solidarity with all those who suffer under Israeli Apartheid (and yes we do believe it is Apartheid), be they Palestinian or Israeli Citizens. Furthermore, we believe that whether you are a Canadian, Palestinian or Israeli, your life has equal value, and thus, attention to the plight of Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation should not go unrecognized and discounted because Israel is supposedly the only democracy in the Middle East.

Around the world there is wide support for divestment and this is also illustrated more locally by the over two thousand students who sent letters to their CUSA “representatives” in support of the SAIA divestment motion. Could these students be described as “misguided”, supporters of a “fringe” group and “fringe” issue? We think not. Rather, they should be seen as informed, knowledgeable and outraged supporters of human rights who do not want their tuition fees supporting war profiteers and apartheid.

 

InSol Womyn of Colour Collective,

Ottawa

 

 

back from a longggg hiatus

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So i’ve been on a pretty long hiatus for many reasons.

One of those reasons being the fact that we students at Carleton were extremely busy fighting a pretty petty administration at Carleton University who thought it best to withhold the student unions fees from both the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) (In addition to brinkmanship neotiating with the labour unions). Yep…..not the smartest move and downright, amounting to another form of bullying tactics that this current administration has added to its normalized ways of dealing with campus ‘stakeholders’.

Luckily, the students’ unions stood their ground, fought back and won! Though it’s hundreds of legal dollars later, the victory of the students’ unions reinforces their autonomy and the ability of their members to determine the existence and direction of the unions. Congrats and much big ups to CUSA and the GSA!

Now onto other rumblings. I’ve been trying to keep up to date with the recent attacks by the Conservative government onto Native Womens Association of Canada (NWAC). What an absolute disgrace that the government is threatening long-standing funding to NWAC on the grounds that they cannot pursue research on missing and murdered Aboriginal women and that they cannot use the name ‘Sisters In Spirit.’ Huhhhh…the very foundation of what they do!

This is the substance of the recent Question and Answer Period on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal women in Parliament (Dec. 7th 2010)

QUESTION PERIOD – Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the government’s failure to call a public inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women is a national disgrace.
Over 600 First nations, Inuit and Métis women have gone missing or murdered. That is 600. These women were mothers, aunties, daughters and sisters.
Will the Prime Minister today, on the 40th anniversary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, right this wrong and call a public inquiry?

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as you know, we have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable women in our society and we are doing just that by implementing a new program to address the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
We have now created a new RCMP centre for missing persons. We have improved our law enforcement databases to deal with investigating missing and murdered women. We have also created a national website for public tips to help locate missing women.
In fact the Native Women’s Association has said that this is a significant investment and Sue O’Sullivan, the Federal Ombudsman for Victims Services says that what we need is more initiatives just like this.

Hon. Anita Neville (Winnipeg South Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the facts are simple. This is a national crisis. There have been 600 missing and murdered aboriginal women and still no inquiry.
This is the real tough on crime issue. If the government wants to be tough on crime, then call an inquiry. If it wants to prevent violence against women, then call an inquiry.
How many more aboriginal women need to become victims before the Conservative government treats this issue like the crisis it is?

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I think we know that we have taken very concrete action to support the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women, but one of the things that is most important for all of us in this chamber to do and in the country to do, is support women’s fundamental basic human rights.
Right now before the House we have the opportunity to support matrimonial and property rights which will historically change the inequality between aboriginal women and non-aboriginal women.
I ask the member why she does not support it.

I will continue to monitor this situation and provide feedback later…I’m kind of on the job 🙂