Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Opinion: Power Over, Power Within, Power With

As a social worker I come across quite a number of people who have been harmed by society, by others or by themselves. More and more I am pondering why our society and the people within it experience this harm and live in a mentality where life is deficient. Life is deficient and therefore we need to go to things outside ourselves in order to feel safe or some semblance of wholeness. For some people this may be Governments, Organized Religion, Philosophical Dogmas for still others it may be relationships, sex, self-harm, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, over or under eating, or consumption of consumer goods.

What I have to the conclusion of as to the reasons why we as individuals and a society go to these things is due to how we are socialize to deal with power. From a young age many of us are taught to respect or fear authoritarian power (also known as power-over). This usually starts with a parent (often father) whom we are taught that their way is law, though some of this is needed when it comes to say not running into traffic or putting their hands on a hot stove, this is generally taken further then that. Then as we grow we come to learn to look to the teacher, police officer, professional, or the government as what to follow and go to.

Answers are provided for us from outside ourselves and we are taught that authoritarian power and hierarchies are what to follow. It is the rare parent or society that teaches children about the concept of working as equals (power-with) or to develop their own inner power (power-within). It is this concept of working with power from a place of power-over that people look for things outside themselves to try to quell the internal. We try to have power-over our lives and feel that it is a personal failing when tragedy befalls us, and society reinforces that belief.

In reality power-over always failures to deliver whether in authoritarian regimes or, personal addictions. Every empire throughout history has eventually fallen as people gain courage and fight back or new empires pave the way. We as a society need to rethink how we look at power. Instead we should nurture society to be one that respects and draws strength from its own power-within and recognize that working with others as equals provides diversity, strength, creativity and, fulfilment for the members of that group.

Every person who lays down using power-over, nurtures their own power-within and, then shares that with others as equals is heroic.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

History: Mother's Peace Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers, life-givers, and nurturers.

Mother's Day has a long history, but it was initially Mother's Peace Day started in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe. Commercialization has changed Mother's Day greatly into something entirely different then what it was initially intended. Mother's Peace Day was in response to the United State Civil War in which many thousands died in bloody and grusome ways. Lending itself to one of the darkest points in American history.

The original purpose of the day was for women everywhere to work for Peace. It was to call for disarmament of weapons, a uniting of peoples and, to teach charity, mercy and, patience so that war would not occur again. Howe looked forward to a day where we would no longer fight wars.

Now 139 years later wars still rage around the world. Many of these conflicts are also intra-state conflicts. Unlike Howe's time when most casualties were soldiers themselves, most of the victims of war now are women and children. There is however, a movement started by Inter Pares to reclaim Mother's Day for that purpose. Take Back the Day.

So today honour the life-givers. Honour the nurturers. Honour the Mothers. For they are the ones whom give us life and beauty. Wish for them the Peace that the original day stood for.

As a start Happy Mother's Day Mom. I love you and hope this day is just one day out of a new lifetime of Peace.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Opinion: Enough with Swine Flu

I am so tired of hearing about swine flu or the H1N1 virus that I debated even posting this. There is a lot of scaremongering going on about swine flu. I think back to avian flu, SARS and others. The reality is that all of these including swine flu need to be looked at in the reality of what they are.

So far, more people die per year from regular flu viruses in comparison to these sensationalist viruses. The version in Canada is the same as in Mexico which, would indicate that it is not mutating into something more deadly. Many of the people who die from these viruses are due to other having other healthy complications or not getting healthcare soon enough.

We as a society need to get out of a crisis mentality. We need a proactive mentality about health, the environment and the economy.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Video: IWD

This is a video created by feminists, and people who are for gender equality. It includes what food feminism would be, what dance move feminism would be, I'm not a feminist but.., hopes and fears for the future, what you would tell a child and, other comments. I actually know a few of the people in the video.

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Canada: Rebelles a new Young Feminist Movement

Last October Feminists from around Canada came together in Montreal to create a new Young Feminist Movement. It was a bilingual conference and it attempted to create some guidelines for a movement. Below is their manifesto that was created:

We are the young RebELLEs who have answered a feminist call and we are proud to call ourselves feminists. We recognize that there are multiple interpretations of feminism and we celebrate and integrate this diversity. We are committed to the continual expansion of the plurality of our voices. We are committed to an ongoing process of critical self-reflection to inform and transform our movement. We acknowledge the historical exclusion of "Othered" women by the majority Western feminist movement. We strive to learn from the past, honour the struggles of our foremothers and continue to dream for the future. We value the allies of feminism who support us in our fight for equity and justice.

We are women of diverse abilities, ethnicities, origins, sexualities, identities, class backgrounds, ages and races. Among us are employed, underemployed and unemployed women, mothers, students, dropouts, artists, musicians and women in the sex trade. We state that transfolks, two-spirited and intersexed people are integral to our movement and recognize and respect gender fluidity and support the right to self-identify. Our womenonly spaces include everyone who self-identifies and lives as a woman in society.

We are told that feminism is over and outdated. If this were true then we wouldn't need to denounce the fact that: In reality, many of the demands of our feminist mothers and
grandmothers remain unmet. Women continue to be the victims of sexual violence. Our communities are haunted by the silence that follows these assaults. Throughout Canada, in spite of our right to it, access to abortion services remains insufficient. Across Canada as well, colonized, marginalized, racialized and disabled women are coerced and/or forced to undergo unwanted or uninformed abortions, forced to use contraception and are subjected to forced sterilization. The hyper-sexualization of women in the media has taught us to view women as sexual objects rather than complete human beings. Getting off, lesbianism and being queer are taboo and a women's choice to seek sexual pleasure is seen as negative. Our identities are eroded as we are taught, from the time we are children, and through television and magazines, that how we should look, dress, and act is determined by our sex. Violence is normalized, sexual abuse eroticized. Our sexual health education is inadequate and our reproductive rights are disrespected. Our needs are not being met.

In reality, women still represent the majority of the underprivileged. Our government steals children from poor and Aboriginal women. Capitalism exploits working-class women and confines middle- and upper-class women to "consumer" roles. We are told that equality has been achieved, but still the wage gap persists. Immigrant women are denied acknowledgment of their academic credentials and are forced to endure intolerable work environments in order to stay on Canadian soil. We lack affordable and accessible childcare. Women remain underpaid, underappreciated, and undervalued in the work force. We have gained the right to vote, yet gender-based discrimination keeps women virtually unrepresented in political office.

In this globalized world, we must construct international feminist solidarity. The actions of Canadian political and economic elites harm women around the world, and in a way that is specifically gender-related. War, genocide and militarization are characterized by the use of rape as a war weapon, femicide, and the sexual exploitation of thousands of our sisters. Free trade contributes to women's increasing social, economic and cultural insecurity. In response to Canadian imperialism, we will globalize our feminist solidarity. In this so-called post-feminist world, our roles in society are still defined by traditional views on gender. Religious and political forces aimed at maintaining the pillars of power in our society silence us from voicing our rights. We denounce the current rise of right-wing ideology in Canadian society and the steps backward in women's rights that this has caused.We are being stripped of rights for which those who came before us fought hard. Geography marginalizes women, with remote, northern and rural women lacking access to basic services. Showing solidarity with our sisters means trying to understand all of the issues we face - including race, class and gender - and standing together against oppression.

Finally, we denounce the dismissal of the feminist movement as redundant. Our struggle is not over. We will be post-feminists when we have post-patriarchy. Feminists Unite!

DOWN WITH the colonial legacy of genocide and assimilation of Aboriginal peoples, particularly of Aboriginal women
DOWN WITH the sexism and racism of the Indian Act
DOWN WITH dishonoured treaties
DOWN WITH assimilation
DOWN WITH racial profiling
DOWN WITH Canada's fake multicultural policy
DOWN WITH warmongers & military power
DOWN WITH racist child welfare policies
DOWN WITH stereotypes in the media
DOWN WITH genocide and femicide
DOWN WITH stealing women and children

RebELLEs AGAINST banks for hijacking the world
RebELLEs AGAINST drug companies for institutionalizing women's health
RebELLEs AGAINST public spaces that don't accommodate all bodies
RebELLEs AGAINST development that destroys nature
RebELLEs AGAINST the class system that keeps us impoverished and deprives us of safe, affordable housing
RebELLEs AGAINST the state that forces other countries to adopt the capitalist system
RebELLEs AGAINST the devaluation of women's paid and unpaid work
RebELLEs AGAINST corporations for making money off our backs
RebELLEs AGAINST the advertisers who destroy our self- esteem and then sell it back to us

RISE AGAINST the industries that cause us to hate our bodies and our sexuality
RISE AGAINST heterosexism that makes it seem that there is only one way of living, loving and being sexual
RISE AGAINST the socialization of children in gender binaries, race categories and colonial erasures
RISE AGAINST the education that reinforces the heteronormative nuclear family
RISE AGAINST the religious Right and its influence on State policy and legislation
RISE AGAINST rape and violence against women
RISE AGAINST the objectification and control of women's bodies
RISE AGAINST all anti-choice bills, laws and strategies
RISE AGAINST the sexual division of labour
RISE AGAINST poverty and women's economic disadvantage and dependency
RISE AGAINST income support programs based on family status instead of individual status
RISE AGAINST masculinists, their false claims and demagogic arguments
RISE AGAINST sexual exploitation

We envision communities committed to:
é Eradicating all forms of violence - including sexual, institutional, emotional, economic, physical, cultural, racial, colonial, ageist and ableist
é Challenging all forms of oppression, power and privilege
é Recognizing that others' struggles against oppression cannot be separated from one's own,
because all people are intrinsically linked; and being conscious of how one fits into the
different structures of oppression while fighting to eliminate them all
é Freeing our children and ourselves from the gender binary
é Building institutions and structures that promote the principles of Justice, Peace & Equality
é Eliminating economic inequality
é Funding and supporting affordable, accessible childcare, and the economic freedom to mother in the way we choose
é Learning and teaching true herstory and histories of our victories and struggles, especially those of women of colour and Aboriginal women
é Fighting the stigma and shame of mental health and psychiatric survivors and supporting their struggles

We will: Change our attitude: get pissed off, refuse, resist, walk out, speak up!
We will: Transform our daily lives and relationships: actions can take place in small interactions
We will: Encourage people to learn about, care for and love themselves and their bodies
We will: Support safe and accessible space for individuals to define and express themselves without fear of judgement
We will: Create alternatives, write poetry, articles, letters, make art
We will: Join with others, find common ground, build community, create feminist spaces and gatherings, raise awareness, educate, spread the word
We will: Believe that a better world is possible and work to achieve it
We will: Organize and struggle: build alliances with existing feminist groups and create new ones,
fight together in solidarity, be seen and be heard, disrupt, trouble, destabilize established powers, become culture jammers
We will: Build solidarity based on the commonality of our diverse struggles and perspectives
We will: Value people rather than profits
We will: Demand massive State reinvestment in social programs and the end of privatization
We will: Organize pan-Canadian decentralized days of feminist action against the rise of the Right
We will: Protest and resist sexist bills and laws that threaten our reproductive rights, racist
immigration laws, war, free trade, repression, the criminalization of political movements, corporate exploitation and plunder of the earth, and violence against women
We will: Champion safety, respect, justice, freedom, equality and SOLIDARITY!

This manifesto was adopted at the Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Gathering Waves of Resistance,
Montreal, October 13, 2008.
This is a call to action!

F i n d o u t m o r e , g e t i n v o l v e d !

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ottawa: Navigating the Ins and Outs: GLBT Partner Assault

Across Canada this is National Victims of Crime Awareness Week. In Ottawa Mayor Larry O'brien has proclaimed Victims of Crime Week from April 26th to May 2nd. On Friday, May 1st the Ottawa Police GLBT Liaison Committee will be putting on an information exchange between Community and Police named Navigating the Ins and Outs: GLBT Partner Assault.

There will be many guest speakers from Community Groups, Victim Services Groups, Police Services and the Crown's Office. It will include four workshops An Introduction to GLBT Partner Assault, Intersectionality and GLBT Partner Assault (Race, Ethnicity & Disability), The Legal Process A to Z and, Critical Incident - Critical Situation Teams. There will also be a Keynote Speaker, a Panel on Reporting and an Information Fair.

It is being held at the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre at 300 Avenue des Pere Blanc. From 8:30 to 3:30 and there is free registration as well as refreshments provided. To register simply go here, anyone is welcome to do so.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Video: Earth Spirit Action

A short 15 minute documentary on deep ecology and the impact of spirituality and political action on it. It includes activists Vandana Shiva, Starhawk, Matthew Fox, Ruth Rosenhek and John Seed.

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