Fat is a feminist issue

January 28, 2006 at 10:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
"i am not a pretty girli don't want to be a pretty girl
no i want to be more than a pretty girl"
- Ani Difranco, "Not a Pretty Girl"

Sometimes it’s so easy to pick a fight.

When one of your sisters in is pain, picking a fight with the one who hurt her is the most desired thing in the world.

Last night I learned that someone – a boy – had made one of my dear friends cry.

Made her feel lesser than herself.

Question herself.

All because of body image.

This boy told her he thought she ate too much, didn’t want her to become fat, and to look in a mirror.

My friend cried.

***

But besides the fact that this boy made my friend cry, is the fact that society gives us the tools with which to punish ourselves as women. We’re accomplices in our own demise here women. No one should be able to make us feel bad, but ourselves.

From tvs to movies to magazines to advertisements to dressing for other women, to judging other women, to analysing ourselves and comparing ourselves to other women.

I don’t dress for men. I dress for other women. I feel their judgement on me all the time, and it’s mutual.

Society has helped create any negative body image I might have, but I’ve been an accomplice in it.

When I work out, when I prep myself, when make myself up and dress a certain way – it’s all to portray a certain image.

And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with developing one’s body image, one’s sense of style. It’s a way of expressing one’s self.

But there needs to be a balance between a positive body image, and a body image that is one that society is pushing us and helping us to create.

That body image is dangerous.

It pushes the folds of the patriarchy, it reigns us in. It keeps us second-class citizens. After all, it’s not the body image that we’re necessarily wanting for ourselves. It creates doubts in our minds, makes us question ourselves, makes us want to become something we’re not. Pushes us to reach the unattainable ideal person. And this goes for both women and men. Men are just as much victims of the patriarchy as women are. Hegemonic femininity and masculinity – the ideals of society – push those of us who don’t fit into those ideals to work harder to achieve them.

That keeps patriarchy intact. And it makes it grow stronger.

***

So I guess the moral of the story is, when the bastard boy made my friend cry, he was enacting the roles of the patriarchy.

And so was she.

That still doesn’t mean I have to like him.

When he’s ready to push the patriarchy aside, to accept her as the beautiful person she is on her own, then maybe we’ll talk.

– Artemis

Carnival of Feminists

January 27, 2006 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feminists everywhere get ready for some sisterhood and reading.

Lauren of Feministe has posted Carnival of the Feminists 7.

Abortion, arts, comics, blogging, dating, consumer culture, beauty, pregnancy, science, sexual assault and more.

If you’re looking for a snapshot of the best of feminist blogging, look no further.

Artemis.

A shift

January 27, 2006 at 7:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I feel a shift in the universe.

This past week, too many absurd things have happened for me to discount it.

The world is moving into a different direction, and I feel as if there’s nothing to do I can stop it.

Harper got elected. Maybe I was in the minority, but I was in absolute denial that he would achieve government of any sort. I think this puts me in more of a state of shock that some people.

This week my stress levels are apparently through the roof because of certain factors in the shifting of the universe. Winds of change. I thought I was handling it well, until a dear friend set me straight this evening.

Get it together Artemis. You’re exuding negative energy everywhere. You’re doing too much, you’re in 20 places at the same time, you’re so busy you’re no longer getting stuff done. My dear friend found herself avoiding me to stay back from my negative energy.

Get it together Artemis.

Something’s gotta give.

A woman’s right to choose

January 22, 2006 at 4:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I don’t think women in this country or people who love women in this country should trust the Conservatives on abortion.” – Dr. Henry Morgentaler


I’m scared.

Tomorrow is Election Day in Canada. And if the polls are “right”, it could mean a Conservative government.

If the polls are right, and voters choose Stephen Harper tomorrow, I’m scared of what that will mean for women.

Today is the 33rd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade in the U.S. In Canada abortion is decriminalized – ie. not legal but not illegal.

As a woman, I walk around every day of my life knowing that I am a second-class citizen. I feel it when my brother talks to me, when I go to work, when I go to school. I feel it when my opportunities are limited because of my sex. I feel it when my right to choice may be limited.

Right now it’s not. In Canada there is access to abortion (although sometimes limited). If you live in a rural area, your access to abortion might be limited. You might not have the money or transportation to drive eight hours to a clinic where a doctor will perform an abortion. In some provinces, healthcare will not cover abortion. Thanksfully, in Newfoundland and Labrador, the province covers all abortion costs, but if you live in a remote area of the province, such as Goosebay or Nain, you probably won’t be able to get an abortion.

On Prince Edward Island, there is neither abortion access. So if you have an unwanted pregnancy on PEI, you’ll have to leave the province to get an abortion. That means going to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia at personal expense. If you’re over 16 week pregnant, you’ll have to go to Montreal, Toronto or Boston.

My access to abortion depends on where I live in Canada – but despite that, I know that if I need or want one, I have the choice.

That choice is essential to my right as a woman, as a person – to making me more than just a second-class citizen. It’s essential to my equality in this world.

Tomorrow is Election Day. If the Conservative party forms government, I’m terrified of what will happen to that choice.

73% of the Conservative party have expressed anti-aborton sentiments. The other 27% have refused to comment on their choice agenda.

Stephen Harper has said repeatedly that were a private member introduce a motion on abortion, he would not force members to tow the party line, but rather to vote on their personal feelings:

“I would not force a vote on a moral question like abortion on my cabinet. …I always said, on these kinds of issues, Member of Parliament, including cabinet ministers, are going to be free to vote their conscience.” (Stephen Harper, Media Scrum, June 4, 2004)


So yes, I’m scared.

If you care at all about women – about your sisters, aunts, friends, cousins, mothers, grandmothers – for all the women in Canada – about women’s equality – then do not mark an x next to the Conservative party on Monday January 23rd.

Our rights depend on it.

– Artemis

It’s January 22nd, 2006 – the 33rd Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. I’m Blogging for Choice

Free Man in Paris

January 14, 2006 at 9:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
There was nobody calling me up for favors
And no one’s future to decide
You know I’d go back there tomorrow
But for the work I’ve taken on

Stoking the star maker machinery

Behind the popular song”

– Joni Mitchell, Free Man in Paris

I think this photo is fairly self-explanatory for the mood of today’s post.

***

What is it about me, exactly, that drives me to have a “I can save the world” complex?

I have a t-shirt that reads “Saving the world, one vagina at a time”. I might not be able to do that in my lifetime, but I’m sure as hell going to try.

And try, and try, and try.

And when I fail, or when I can’t find it in my calendar of events to do everything possible, the guilt kicks in. Guilt that I can’t do it at all.

***


I finally learned to say no to something this weekend. A weekend feminist retreat, which most likely would’ve been fabulous to attend. But my energy just isn’t there.

I’ve only been back at work for a week and already I’m exhausted. This must’ve been the longest week ever. New opportunities are arising from every corner, and while it’s both exciting and terrifying, I wonder if I really do have enough time to do it all.

Missing the retreat this weekend was supposed to allow me the time to work, instead, on my thesis ethics proposal. Now with Saturday nearly over, what have I to show for it? A day full of online monopoly-playing instead. My body, my mind, needed a rest. Needed a break so bad. Today’s day of nothingness certainly proves that.

And yet, the guilt is niggling still – guilt as I’ve backed out of yet another conference next weekend in order to do an entirely separate event.

Artemis to self: It’s okay to NOT do everything and to NOT be responsible for everything.

***

Is this a socially learned part of being a woman? This desire, this need, to do everything? To fix everything? To be everywhere at all times? To be everything to everyone? To save the world?

Women are the caregivers, the nurturers, the ones who look after the home. In looking after the home physically, that also entails a huge amount of emotional care. We’re trained to be the ones that people come to. To fix problems. To wipe the tears, be the bearer of bad news, be the shoulder to cry on. And pretty soon, before we even realize we were being trained, it becomes so engrained that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

And then, when we can’t bear that responsibility, when we feel the need to be selfish, to look after ourselves – we feel guilty.

***

How do we overcome it though?

For years I’ve been trying to do exactly that. At times I think I’ve done it. Learned to be selfish. To practice self-care, to worry about myself first. But then the arm gets tingly, the lack of sleep kicks in, and the guilt becomes a gnawing fixture. The need to be doing everything for everybody all the time. And before I know it, I realize that once again, I’m overdoing it. People are walking all over me, asking me to do everything and be everything to everyone – and I’ve entirely allowed them to do that.

Time for another reality check.

– Artemis.

Practice what you preach….

January 7, 2006 at 7:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Pat Robertson, US Politician, 1992.

It’s been three weeks since the university shut down for the holidays.

Three blissful weeks of vacation, of doing absolutely nothing, of being solitary and reclusive. Certainly there were days where I became googly-eyed, longing for the outdoors but still feeling the need to stay inside, by myself. I’ve gone days at time this holiday without any human contact except through online messaging. No phones, no visits, no socializing.

I’ve never really had this time before to be utterly alone. Holidays were usually spent with family, visiting old friends, every day packed. This is the first year that I’ve had where I didn’t go “home” for Christmas – so there was no one to catch up with. I can’t say I regret it at all. Now, not only I am going back to work on Monday, but friends are returning from their own holidays. Let the visiting begin.

***

I’ve had multiple talks with friends this week about the boy. I’ll go months at a time without thinking there might be the slightest chance for anything more than friendship between us. I deny myself this, not allowing myself to believe there might be a chance.

It’s self-preservation.

Yet another person asked this week if the boy and I were together. More than friends. I wonder what it is that all these other people see that I don’t see? That I’m unable to see?

A friend asked me yesterday, what if he did return your feelings? Have you ever thought that maybe he does?

No.

It’s self-preservation.

****

Let’s jump around today. My thought patterns are random, probably from sitting inside watch depressing films all day. 21 Grams. Definitely not a movie about drugs, as I had assumed.

I had many discussions this week on violence against women again. V-Day, the movement to stop violence against women and girls. Certainly it’s been criticized for it’s exclusion in the past of some groups of women, for not being inclusive to all women, for being ethnocentric. Transexuality has been one of those critiques, and the lack thereof, in the past.

The inclusion of the optional performance monologue “They Beat the Girl out of My Boy… Or So They Tried” into The Vagina Monologues has addressed many of those concerns. However, although the monologue itself – a beautifully written montage of various voices of transwomen, written by author Eve Ensler after lengthy interview – addresses violence against women in a new light, to audiences, does it still do that for those performing and organizing the shows themselves?

The discussions where I work this week have been centred around which optional monologue to perform. There’s the trans-monologue. There’s a monologue about domestic violence on native reserves. In the past we’ve done optional monologues on women in Islamabad and Juarez, Mexico. How do you choose which monologue to perform?

The central debate this week has been that “The Crooked Braid”, a piece written about domestic violence on American native reserves, does more to address one of the central functions and purposes of V-Day and The Vagina Monologues – the ending of violence against women. The argument has been that this piece addresses specifically violence against women, while “They Beat the Girl…” is more about sexuality.

I’d argue exactly the opposite. To limit the themes of “They Beat the Girl out of My Boy… Or So They Tried” solely to being about sexuality is an enormous misunderstanding not only of this piece, but of transexuality and the experiences of trans-women as a whole. For too long transwomen have been isolated from our society, even from productions such as The Vagina Monologues which purport to look at empowerment for women. If we can’t accept transwomen and look at the oppression that they themselves go through, then what are we doing as feminists?

The systemic violence of oppression and ignorance that transsexuals and transgendered persons face is part of sexism, part of patriarchy, part of violence against women. Perhaps as feminist women, we need to look more at our own socialization and roles in society. Just because we’re feminists trying to save the world doesn’t mean we’re immune to being oppressive ourselves.

Media and pop culture have created a typified image of violence against women – the most common images portrayed being domestic violence and rape. It would be mistaken to assume that these are the only types of violence against women, however. Why should domestic abuse and rape be the most symbolic and representative types of violence against women? That assumption minimizes the countless other types of violence that women go through – both on a systemic and individual level. It says that one person’s violence is more important to get rid of than another’s, that their experiences, their traumas, their heartaches and abuses are more important.

Mimimizing violence against women, whatever form it may take, does nothing to stop violence against women. It can only perpetuate it further.

In refuge…

January 5, 2006 at 8:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
– Maya Angelou


This photograph really has nothing to do with the weather outside, the season, the time, or even the place. Sometimes I need to remind myself why I’ve left the places I’ve been, why I’ve come to the place I’m in now. What I miss, what I don’t miss. What I’m doing here, why I continue to stay here. Looking at photographs of places I’ve lived, places I’ve loved and continue to love, helps me to do that.

***

It’s a crazy wind outside today. The tree branches, speckled with ice, tap at my window while freezing rain pelts at the glass. After a few days of working hard at home, I’ve allotted myself today to do nearly nothing.

I don’t feel a single bit guilty.

– Artemis

Fight the Good Fight

January 4, 2006 at 2:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
“We cannot sow seeds with clenched fists.
To sow we must open our fists.
No podemos sembrar con los punos cerrados.
Para sembrar, hay que abrir los punos.”
-Adolfo Perez Esquivel
I love this photo. I took it last summer on Vancouver Island. I love the sea air, the salt, the openess, the freedom, the utter peace I feel when I’m there.

******

It’s early in the morning. I’ve been up for hours now, eyes glazed at my computer screen. Playing with my blog. It’s been a holiday full of nothingness, necessary nothingness. I am both excited and terrified of going back to work already. I’ve tried to work it into my routine slowly now – much of yesterday was spent at home with new graphics and logos and fonts and design. But the real work, the activist work, has yet to come and will still wait until next week.

I am terrified of being in the same position I found myself before holiday – will I want to quit it all, to pack up and leave? Can I really make a difference?

When the entire world is against you, it’s hard to feel like you’re making a difference.

I’ve been told I am – keep going they say. I know if everything was easy, then there wouldn’t be anything to fight against.

Violence against women, rising tuition, access to education, sexism… just a few of the things that wind their way into my day-to-day life.

But when the people who surround you, the people you work with, aren’t enabling you to do the job you’re meant to do, the job you’re hired to do, then how much of a difference can you really make?

Fight the good fight, they say.

It would be nice if it wasn’t always a fight.

****

What am I fighting for?

V-World – to quote Vagina Goddess Eve Ensler.

A world without violence.

Is is possible?

I can’t believe that it’s not, because if it’s not, then what I am fighting for?

****

It’s nearly noon now. The sun is out for the first time in days. It’s peeking through my windows into my dark apartment, where I’ve been lazily holed up since New Year’s. But as work slowly creeps it’s way back to me, I know I need to move forward.

My thesis is something that’s been haunting me for over a year now. The academics of life – it’s so much easier to get caught up in something where you can see the results first hand, where you feel that you’re really making a difference. The theoretical as opposed to the practical. I want to be out there – doing, not talking about what I could be doing. But if I’m going to move foward and continue making change, I can’t continue having this albatross hanging over my head.

All that’s left is to get ethics approval and I can start my research. And I am excited about it. It’s something where I might be able to make change, to enable women to empower themselves further, to add to something that I really believe in.

****

V-World. A world without violence.

That’s what I’m working for.

The rest of it, is it worth my fighting for? Is my energy worth spending on it?

That’s a question for another day. We’ll see what the New Year brings.

-Artemis

Uniform Grey

January 4, 2006 at 1:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
“You don’t do what I want you to…
But I haven’t been through all you’ve been through.

And we could use that as an excuse,
If that’s what you choose…
If that’s what you choose…”
– Sarah Harmer, Uniform Grey


It’s been over a year since I first met him.

This person, this soul, who continues to haunt me. A year later, and he’s still in my soul.

Unrequited, I can’t help but think. It saves me to think that he doesn’t feel the same way that I do. To believe that it’s all one-sided, to believe that there is no hope. No time wasted between us, now or in the future. To believe there is no hope, saves me from believing that there is hope.

A year later, and I’m in the same boat. Our story began as friends, an instant connection, one that is instantly recognizable. The spark that you read about in the movies. Blue eyes gazing into mine, penetrating eyes that see into my soul, read my very thoughts. Read eachother’s thoughts. It terrified me, terrified him. And he with all his baggage (who hasn’t got baggage?), backed off. Friends only. And I respected that.

Over a year later, and nothing has changed. Our friendship has deepened. He is my best friend, my family. I think I’m happy with that, and maybe I am. Most of the time. But then, in bar bathrooms on New Year’s Eve, on drunken Saturday nights, at drunken parties, in moments of inebriated bluntness, I always spill it out. The frustration, the pain, the longing. I think it’s gone, but it’s just festering.

Others who know us both tell me he feels the same as me. That we’re both held back by our own stupidity. That I’ve given him too much space. I can’t let myself believe it.

I like being alone. I push people away, I seem to choose people to be in my life who always leave, who have baggage, who are unable to love back. I like the loneliness.

Today, I opened up one of my favourite sites, PostSecret, and a postcard jumped out at me. Someone’s secret.

“I will lose her if I don’t tell her how I feel.
I will lose her if I do tell her how I feel.”

I’ve stared at this postcard throughout the day. Reopened it in my browser again and again. Scrutinized the writing, hoping that it was sent by him.

This secret, could be his.

It feels like mine.

The words ate into me. I understood them entirely.

Just when I think I’m over him, that I’m satisfied with our friendship, little things like this creep in under my skin. Into my heart.

Over a year later, still nothing.

New Year’s questions from a woman on the run

January 2, 2006 at 11:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Perfection is static, and I am a work in full motion.” – Anais Nin

It’s a New Year, a new day. Who am I? I’m still trying to figure that out.

This year was my first Christmas away from “home”. I’ve made a new home for myself over the past three years, with people to now call my family. I rarely missed the place I once called home, and yet… I can’t help but wonder how long this place, this space I’ve made for myself on the tip of the rock, will remain my home.

What forces will push me forward? Will I have the courage to make certain choices, to move in certain directions?

Leaving terrifies me. People leaving terrifies me.

One of the persons who I’ve come to call a friend, part of my new family, might leave in the next few months. Forces outside of me, outside of him, might push him away, might take him on a new path. I am a firm believer in following your heart to a place that calls it – but I can’t help but feel that my heart is slowly unravelling at the thought of yet another person in my life leaving.

In a year from now, will he still be here?

Will I still be here?

I’ve been alone for so long. I crave my space, love my loneliness. I push people away, and I’ll admit that I like it. I like the pain that it causes me. I like the solitary sadness that eats away at me. I long for more, but I can’t seem to make myself accept more.

In a year from now, will I still be alone?


“Perfection is static, and I am a work in full motion.” – Anais Nin

Happy New Year. -Artemis


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