Tomi Lahren and feminism

Lahren has been pulled from the Blaze for being pro-choice. While, I can’t say I’m sad to know I’ll be seeing less clips of her popping up in my newsfeed, I can’t say I’m comfortable with why that is.

Lahren has been pulled for her opinion that small government policies apply to abortion policies as well. In terms of political ideology, makes sense to me.

But now, women are speaking about how we underestimated Lahren’s commitment to women’s rights or that she is a feminist or that we shouldn’t have been critiquing her. And that’s outrageous.

I would argue Lahren isn’t a feminist at worst and is a white feminist at best. But as an intersectional feminist, who disagrees with Lahren on many fundamental points, I can acknowledge that her being fired for her views on abortion sucks. Yeah, it really sucks. Women shouldn’t be fired for taking a stand for their reproductive rights. But that doesn’t give her a pass on all the other things she has said,and I don’t think we should be giving her that pass.

I can disagree with her. I can critique her. And still respect that she is a woman being handed an awful deal without giving her a pass for previous harm caused and it still means I’m a feminist.

So please let’s not hop on the bandwagon of claiming Lahren is a feminist icon, let’s continue our critiques.

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Pocahontas is now the face of the resistance

“Pocahontas is now the face of your party” – President of the United States Donald Trump to Elizabeth Warren United States Senator from Massachusetts.

This line was enough to cause me to start swearing out loud alone in my basement. In this line Trump is demonstrating his clear contempt and disregard for Indigenous people. To Trump it seems, an Indigenous woman is the last person we should have leading an American political party.

However before we break this down I will acknowledge Elizabeth Warren’s Indigenous identity has been called into question. Simon Moya-Smith breaks it down well here. However, regardless of the validity of her identity, Trump’s statement is inappropriate and harmful to Indigenous folks across the world.

In this line Trump chose to reduce Indigenous women to the stereotype of Pocahontas and to imply Indigenous people do not have a place in politics.

The use stereotypes such as Pocahontas is known to cause harm to Indigenous people. It is a documented fact*. Trump’s continued use of this slur (yes, slur) is demonstrating his lack of desire to put the first “Americans” first in any way. It demonstrates that he is willing to throw entire nations (yes, sovereign nations) under the bus to insult a political opponent.

However this line shows something else. Not only is Trump continuing to use the stereotype of Pocahontas to belittle Warren, but he is demonstrating his belief that an Indigenous person is not qualified or suitable for politics. This is just incorrect plain and simple. There are Indigenous business people, PhDs, doctors, athletes, celebrities and more. Indigenous people are just as capable as anyone else. Let me say this again for those in the back, Indigenous people are just as capable as anyone else.

When Trump contributes to the marginalization and oppression of Indigenous people through stereotypes and insults he is not “making America great again”, in fact he’s making it worse. By choosing to not work with Indigenous people, to not build a relationship and to not treat them with respect, Trump is not doing America any favours.

Indigenous people have been the face of resistance in North America for generations. We know what we’re doing. And that resistance will not wane. We will not stand by as our Indigeneity is used as an insult to degrade others. We will not stand by as our lands are pillaged. We will not stand by as our women’s rights to choose are restricted. We will not stand by as our allies from other marginalized populations are targeted.

Pay attention Trump, because we Pocahontas-es are now the face of the resistance.

 

*Fryberg, Stephanie A., Hazel R. Markus, Daphna Oyserman, and Joseph M. Stone. “Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots.” Basic and Applied Social Psychology 30.3 (2008): 208-218. Web.

Don’t tell me it’s not personal

I am terrified.

I am terrified to log onto social media.

I am terrified to watch the news.

I am terrified to talk to people outside of social justice circles about today’s reality.

I’m told again and again that I’m Canadian so it doesn’t matter.

That I need to stop taking it personal.

That he can only impact “so much”.

That it won’t be as bad as we think.

I refuse to accept these ideas.

He has issued an order limiting the movement of not only refugees but also permanent residents to the US. And yes, I am safe but what of the reports of students visiting my university for a model UN competition who are now stranded not able to return to their education in the US? Was it not personal? Was the impact only “so much”? Was it not as bad as they thought?

He has intentions to cut funding to the Violence Against Women Act. And yes, I would not need to access the resources paid for by this act but what of the people across the US experiencing the same violence as has been experienced by people I love here? Is it not personal? Is the impact only “so much”? Is it not as bad as they thought?

He has begun dismantling Obamacare. And yes, I have health care coverage in my home country but what of my family in the US if they’re financial security or health status were to change? Is it not personal? Is the impact only “so much”? Is it not as bad as they thought?

He hung a portrait of President Andrew Jackson in his office. And yes, it is just a painting in a office I will never see but is it not terrifying to see him take inspiration from a man that signed legislation leading to the “Trail of Tears”? Is it not personal? Is the impact only “so much”? Is it not as bad as we thought?

And this is only the beginning. So yes I will say it is personal and I am terrified. And I will not grow accustomed to this presidency. I will resist.

I can be a redneck and a progressive.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day and came across a video of the Blade Games from the Blade show held each year in Atlanta. The video was posted with a comment referencing the meme of “white people have no culture”.

The meme pokes fun at the idea a homogeneous white culture and “white” as one culture. But the meme isn’t the point. The video and comments it generated reference the idea of “redneck America” and the issues that can be associated with these demographics by those focused on social justice and equity.The idea of the associations of rednecks with racism, sexism and misogyny and more recently the election of Trump.

And I am the first to admit, I make these jokes and commentary, I give rednecks a hard time and I make judgements. But I am also willing to discuss rednecks/white trash/hillbillies and whatever else you might want to call them with more nuance. Because I am one.

However, what I found most frustrating about the discourse of the issues of redneck America, is that while rednecks can be racist and misogynistic, so can urban elites. Dismissing rednecks as racist and/or misogynistic can eliminate many allies to progressive folks in rural regions where they may in fact be needed the most. When we ignore the potential for allyship within certain demographics, such as the rural working class, we ignore some of the folks who can do some of the most effective ground work.

Many rural communities and regions are suffering from changing economies and the impacts of class. My community for example, is known to have a lack of access to healthcare and in particular mental health care. To the point in which the main source of mental health care is a clinic open by a family in memory of their son who died by suicide. Imagine a world where in instead of dismissing my rural redneck community of being backward, stigma-supporting, aggressive, toxic-masculinity promoting folks, we tapped into the needs the community knows they have and supported their grassroots methods to defeat stigma and form partnerships with urban communities with more resources.

While some rednecks are all of these things stated before, not all are. Just as in any demographic, there is a plurality of opinions and perspectives. As folks working in social justice fields, we need to recognize the possibility for allyship in the places we don’t expect. And this include the rural working class. We need to look beyond our comfort zones of social justice and seek out allies from other ways of life. We cannot afford to dismiss allyship wherever we can find it.

New Year, Same Desire For Personal Growth

New Year, Same Desire For Personal Growth

I’ve been putting a lot of focus this academic year on personal growth (Thanks OceanPath, #blessmrp) and the new year has seemed like an ideal time to reflect on what personal growth has taken place and what habits I want to work toward. I use the word habits because it’s the habits and daily actions that will get me toward a final goal but also set me on the track for success even beyond that goal. And so, I’ve formed my resolutions into habits.

I’ve taken inspiration from many other sources (on the shoulders of giants and all that) and so I’ve linked to other blogs/sites etc when appropriate!

Habits to continue:

  1. Being aware of how I talk about women and girls. Very often women, young women and girls in particular, are talked about in ways which place value on their looks first. ie “You’re looking great!” “You look like you’ve lost weight!” “Have you changed your hair?””She’s so cute” And while there is a time and a place for this, I want to prioritize supporting women for their intelligence, strength, creativity and drive. SO enough small talk about folks’ hair. I want to here about your passions.
  2. Not saying sorry when really I’m not sorry. My mom gives me flak for this one.
  3. Reading more. I used to read almost non-stop. On my way to school, when I finished my work at school, on the way home from school, after school, before bed. You get it, I was a bookworm. Until university. With the amount of reading to do for school, the last thing I wanted to do in my free time was read. But books can be a wonderful way to learn and expose yourself to other ways of thinking. So starting with Hillbilly Elegy (thanks Dad!) I want to get back into reading more this year.

 

Habits to adopt:

  1. Observe (and modify as needed) how gender roles influence my actions. It would be naive of me to say that even though I’m a feminist I don’t suffer from internalized sexism and misogyny. I know I do certain things because as the women in the room/house/department/class etc I feel obligated to. And I’m done with that. Thanks to Bustle for pointing this one out!
  2. Reconsidering my consumerism. While I’ve always been a proponent of supporting local/independent/small business, there’s much more to consider. I want to look towards supporting businesses owned by women, POC and other marginalized folks. I want I focus on buying clothing that will last and avoiding fast fashion. I want to focus on buying clothes I feel good in not clothes my friends say look good but I know I will never wear. If I have to engage in capitalism I might as well be putting my money where my mouth is in respect to supporting marginalized folks, the environment and social justice.
  3. A morning routine. I am not a morning person. At all. Ever. BUT I know sleeping through the morning is a waste of my time. I want to learn to be able to set myself up for success and find a morning routine that works for me.

Habits to lose:

  1. Spending way too much time on social media. Yeah, I do this. It’s bad. Starting at law school in the Fall I want to work on cutting down on my time on social media and working on only using it in productive ways so I can make the most of my time in law school and focus on the #grind.
  2. Staying in my comfort zone. I want to work on doing things that scare me. I want to face rejection, I want to face failure and I want to be terrified. Because I know these are things I’ll have to do sooner or later so I want to start sooner. I want to find ways to do this in my life every day.

“I don’t believe women should be happy without a man”

I’ve reflecting on the day I was working at the mall and was approached by a man who asked about our current sales. After pointing out some of our popular sales, he asked me about a certain product he had heard about, that I knew we carried but wasn’t sure if we had in stock at the moment. While looking it up in our computer he turned to me and said:

“Do you have a man?”

“No, and I’m not particularly looking.”

“I don’t believe women should be happy without a man.”

Yep. A middle-aged man in a cowboy hat I had never seen decided this was an appropriate conversation to have. Now let’s take a moment to highlight some of the key features here.

  1. There’s no need to ask me if I have a man in my life. No. Need. This question can only lead to inappropriate conversations in this setting. Either advances towards me, or commentary such as this.
  2. I shouldn’t have to feel unsafe in saying I’m single. I shouldn’t be afraid of inappropriate advances from a middle aged man. And yet, that is the world in which we live in. A world in which I did not feel comfortable saying I was single and felt the need to preemptively avoid further advances on the topic in order to avoid a conflict.
  3. Why do you believe you have any say in what should make a woman happy. Why is it men feel they have any right to say what should make a woman happy? It brings to mind so much the idea of “men like girls who…”. We don’t exist for men. Let me say that again for the folks in the back, women don’t exist for men. I don’t care what a man think should make me happy. I will be made happy by what makes me happy.
  4. And on that note, let’s acknowledge it’s not that you don’t believe they are happy, you don’t believe they should be happy. As though you have any right to what should make a woman happy. You are making a judgement stating a woman needs a man to be happy. That a woman cannot be whole, complete and happy without a man. That a woman cannot be just that, a woman.

It’s these moments that men often do not see or realize happen. It’s moments like this that women experience and internalize. The idea that they cannot be happy without a man. The idea that it should be their priority. It’s these moment of feeling unsafe women internalize and have to live out everyday when approached by strangers.

And to the men reading:

Take note of this story. It’s one of the many I could tell. Take note of the stories women around you tell. Believe us and open your eyes to the experiences you don’t have. Take the time to question your behaviors and those of men around you.

You would think it were a natural disaster.

Friends are checking in with family, friends and loved ones across the country.

My social media feeds are filled with links of the best places to make donations.

Images of crying and devastated faces fill the media.

We are speaking of a national disaster.

You would think it were a natural disaster.

And maybe in some ways it is.

Maybe it is natural.

The reaction to divisions can be understood.

The divisions were created and amplified with intention.

We had prayed that our humanity would overcome our divisions.

But rather the country reacted as they had been taught to react when faced with division.

They saw the world as all being faced with their reality.

Even though others screamed in opposition.

Even though others risked their lives.

Even though others prayed.

Now though we must consider:

Why are our realities our so different?

Why do so many people feel so disenfranchised?

So disenfranchised they must put others in harms way, to regain their comfort?

But most urgently, how do we speak to these folks about this harm?

How do we move forward together from here?

Because we must.

We must move forward to regain our strength.

We must move forward from this human designed disaster.

We will not let oppressor created divisions stop us from fighting.

Because we will continue to fight. We will fight the good fight.