Eve Ensler: Over It.

A dear friend recently brought this article by Eve Ensler to my attention. I found it really powerful.  She doesn’t leave anything out.  Since we’ve been too distracted with school lately to keep our blog active I thought I would at least share this with you.

Over It

I am over rape.

I am over rape culture, rape mentality, rape pages on Facebook.

I am over the thousands of people who signed those pages with their real names without shame.

I am over people demanding their right to rape pages, and calling it freedom of speech or justifying it as a joke.

I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are really fucking funny. We just don’t think that uninvited penises up our anus, or our vagina is a laugh riot.

I am over how long it seems to take anyone to ever respond to rape.

I am over Facebook taking weeks to take down rape pages.

I am over the hundreds of thousands of women in Congo still waiting for the rapes to end and the rapists to be held accountable.

I am over the thousands of women in Bosnia, Burma, Pakistan, South Africa, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Afghanistan, Libya, you name a place, still waiting for justice.

I am over rape happening in broad daylight.

I am over the 207 clinics in Ecuador supported by the government that are capturing, raping, and torturing lesbians to make them straight.

I am over one in three women in the U.S military (Happy Veterans Day!) getting raped by their so-called “comrades.”

I am over the forces that deny women who have been raped the right to have an abortion.

I am over the fact that after four women came forward with allegations that Herman Cain groped them and grabbed them and humiliated them, he is still running for the President of the United States.

And I’m over CNBC debate host Maria Bartiromo getting booed when she asked him about it. She was booed, not Herman Cain.

Which reminds me, I am so over the students at Penn State who protested the justice system instead of the alleged rapist pedophile of at least 8 boys, or his boss Joe Paterno, who did nothing to protect those children after knowing what was happening to them.

I am over rape victims becoming re-raped when they go public.

I am over starving Somalian women being raped at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, and I am over women getting raped at Occupy Wall Street and being quiet about it because they were protecting a movement which is fighting to end the pillaging and raping of the economy and the earth, as if the rape of their bodies was something separate.

I am over women still being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it’s their fault or they did something to make it happen.

I am over violence against women not being a #1 international priority when one out of three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime — the destruction and muting and undermining of women is the destruction of life itself.

No women, no future, duh.

I am over this rape culture where the privileged with political and physical and economic might, take what and who they want, when they want it, as much as they want, any time they want it.

I am over the endless resurrection of the careers of rapists and sexual exploiters — film directors, world leaders, corporate executives, movie stars, athletes — while the lives of the women they violated are permanently destroyed, often forcing them to live in social and emotional exile.

I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you?

You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?

I am over years and years of being over rape.

And thinking about rape every day of my life since I was 5-years-old.

And getting sick from rape, and depressed from rape, and enraged by rape.

And reading my insanely crowded inbox of rape horror stories every hour of every single day.

I am over being polite about rape. It’s been too long now, we have been too understanding.

We need to OCCUPYRAPE in every school, park, radio, TV station, household, office, factory, refugee camp, military base, back room, night club, alleyway, courtroom, UN office. We need people to truly try and imagine — once and for all — what it feels like to have your body invaded, your mind splintered, your soul shattered. We need to let our rage and our compassion connect us so we can change the paradigm of global rape.

There are approximately one billion women on the planet who have been violated.

ONE BILLION WOMEN.

The time is now. Prepare for the escalation.

Today it begins, moving toward February 14, 2013, when one billion women will rise to end rape.

Because we are over it.

(Eve Ensler, Huffington Post, 11/11/11)

TOMORROW September 15th: Memorial for Wendy Babcock

If you’d like to share in remembering the life of Wendy, please be aware that tomorrow there will be a memorial service for her starting at 6 pm in the Allan Gardens at Carleton and Sherbourne.

For more information please visit this website that has been started in her memory.

In Memory of Wendy Babcock – child prostitute, Osgoode law student, mother, fearless activist (1978-2011)

Photo from Erin Hatfield at insidetoronto.com (Nov 2009)

Last Tuesday the Toronto activist scene tragically lost one of its heroes.  At the age of 32, and after living a lifetime of challenges, Wendy Babcock was found dead in her apartment.  The cause of death has not been released, though police do not suspect foul play.

Wendy overcame many more challenges than most of us are faced with.  She came from an abusive home and was out on the streets by the tender age of 11.  She was introduced to the sex work industry at the age of 15 when her first sexual encounter was exchanged for $75.  At the age of 16 she dropped out of school and became a mother shortly after.  Her son was taken from her by the Children’s Aid in 2003 and in the same year quit sex work when a colleague of hers was murdered on the job.

However, despite all of her trials and disadvantages Wendy pushed on.  She graduated from George Brown and went on to begin a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School – one of few students accepted without a university education.

Wendy was a fearless defender of sex worker rights and hoped to use her law degree to humanize the child welfare system.  In 2008, she received the Toronto’s first Public Health Champion award.  Her story caught the eye of numerous news outlets in 2009 when she began law school and she was met with an outpouring of support and donations from strangers to sustain her studies.

Wendy’s perseverance and dedication to the protection of the vulnerable is an inspiration to us all.  She will be sadly missed by many.

Xtra! news has published an excellent story, here.  Click here to view a CBC interview with Wendy from 2009 when she first started law school.

The High Cost of Cheap Fashion

I’m sure you’ve all heard the news; Target has come to town.  As one Zellers disappears at a time and some of us lament the loss of another Canadian company and the further Americanization of Canada, others are excited for more options in cheap fashion styles coming to a store near you. Recent news out of Jordan on the treatment of female garment producers however, is another kick in the ass reminder of the high cost of this cheap fashion.

Photo by Flickr user adgray2k, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Jordan has become a magnet for the garment production industry since 2001, when the U.S. ratified a free trade agreement with the country. Classic Fashion is currently the largest garment export factory in Jordan employing some 4,800 people, mostly guest workers from countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and China.

Last month, the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights released a report alleging that workers producing clothing for Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Hanes at the Classic Fashion factory in Jordan are being regularly beaten, underpaid, and forced to work overtime without pay and in excess of what is allowed under Jordanian labour laws. At the centre of the abuse and exploitation at Classic Fashion factory is widespread sexual assaults and rape of female workers by male members of management.

The report presents the stories of numerous women who have taken great personal risk to tell their stories of abuse and exploitation. Female workers report that women who become pregnant and women who refuse the sexual advances of Classic‘s managers are forcibly deported. In October of last year, 2,400 Sri Lankan and Indian workers went on strike demanding the removal of the alleged rapist, general manager, Anil Santha.  Classic‘s owner, Sanal Kumar, sent Anil on a recruiting mission to South Asia, only to return him to his management position at the Classic factory one month later, where he has resumed his reign of fear and abuse.

Despite being notified of these abuses by The Institute as early as 2007, the Jordanian Ministry of Labor has taken no action. Neither has the American corporations using these suppliers taken responsibility for or action to end these abuses.

In the past month, leading human rights groups increased the pressure on American brands purchasing from the Classic factory, demanding immediate public action to end the abuses.  A recent Huffington Post article  quotes the author of The Institute’s report, Charles Kernaghan expressing his frustration and disappointment with the response (or lack there of) from the implicated American brands “When we first started with this I thought Walmart and Hanes, they are not into human rights,” he said. “But we thought they would draw the line in the sand at these rapes. Instead, they’ve been virtually silent.” It has been over a month and these companies have yet to declare any public action. Their silence, while production continues as these factories, is deafening.

This is not just a story for U.S. consumers especially as Target moves into the Canadian market, and where Walmart has been a mecca for Canadian budget shoppers for years. On March 24, 2010, the Government of Canada tabled legislation to implement a Free Trade agreement with Jordan. This bill was introduced in the last session of Parliament, though Parliament was dissolved before the bill could be passed when the federal election was called in March. There is every reason to believe, however, that this bill will be quickly re-introduced when parliament sits again this fall. This means we here in Canada will also be welcoming goods produced under conditions of exploitation and abuse.

The exploitation and abuse of workers is a central tenet of the current global capitalist production chain and workers who are even more vulnerable because of factors like their sex or immigration status often experience the worst of this abuse.

As a feminist I often think about and struggle with the question how do we resist (and support the resistance of) gender oppressions that are beyond our own daily experiences.  I recognize that not all readers will identify with my “we” and “us” here. In using these personal pronouns I am acknowledging my own social location and position of privilege as a white, middle-class woman living in Canada and consequently am speaking to others who enjoy positions of privilege in the global production chain and to signify that these are questions with which I personally struggle.  It is a position of extreme privilege that for so many of us understanding and resisting these systems of exploitation and oppression is even a choice; it certainly is not for the women working at the Classic Fashion factory in Jordan.

While the actions below are certainly not an exhaustive or even the most radical ways to support the brave women at the Classic factory it may be a place to start for some.  In addition to refusing to buy goods from the companies who use do business with Classic Fashion factory here are some options for action:

SOME STEPS YOU CAN TAKE NOW

 1 ) Sign onto the petition urging American companies purchasing from Classic Fashion to take immediate action to stop these abuses. 

2) Stay informed: Check out the for Global Labour & Human Rights Institute’s Classic campaign page for more reports, updates and news

3) Call or write the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, John Baird, and urge him to refuse to ratify a free trade agreement with Jordan until there is evidence that human rights and labour rights are being upheld and protected. Make sure you cc’ your MP and the Foreign Affairs critic for the NDP.

John Baird                                                                                                                                                                                                               Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade                                                                                                                                        613-990-7720                                                                                                                                                                                        bairdj@parl.gc.ca

Paul Dewar                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Foreign Affairs Critic, New Democrat Party                                                                                                                                                          613-946-8682                                                                                                                                                                                        dewarp@parl.gc.ca


And so it begins….

I know, I can just imagine the look on your face.  You’re rolling your eyes, throwing your arms up, and thinking, “Oh sh*t, another feminist blog… how flipping original!   Yet again the wonderous, rolling infiniteness of the world-wide web is just that much smaller and all because of feminist blogs.  Who are these broads, anyway?”

Alright, so first things first, let’s be upfront about who we are and what makes this site different from the rest.

Well, we are, for the most part, from that wide-open space north of the 49th parallel.  Although, that is hardly original since there are lots of great feminist bloggers up here (see blog roll).  I guess another exciting difference is that I get to write here.  I know!!  It just seems like so much more work having to appeal to others to publish your thoughts.  Nah.

Ok seriously now, the real difference with this blog is that our aim is to unite folks who are feminists (or feministy), activists, writers, artists, community members and bloggers.  This blog is a space for us to come together and to share experiences and opinions, while discussing issues that are relevant and current to our lives and our feminisms.

Our vision in creating this blog is to create a space for building dialogues across experiences and recognizing that feminist dialogues and work are happening in all spaces, outside the walls of academia, across generations, race, class, genders, abilities, and ways of knowing.  It is about connecting with each other, learning, growing, and supporting each other as we strive to build healthy and equitable communities.

Please feel welcomed to send us your comments, stories, critiques and rants.  We are looking for your take on local or international politics, sexuality and health, activism, arts and culture, current events, etc.  Or subscribe to the blog and share your perspectives through the comment threads.

Thanks for looking.  We are excited to see where we can take this!