Monday, October 31, 2011

Hugh Jackman on Aboriginal Communities

I think it's important to acknowledge that the education systems across the world have gone out of their way to ignore or hide the history and ongoing reality of indigenous peoples. Hugh Jackman is one of my favorite actors and I'm glad that he's owing up to his own lack of education and becoming aware of the culture of the Aboriginal people in his own country.

Adrienne Wilkinson at Comic Con

Saturday afternoon actor and producer Adrienne Wilkinson visited the Men’s Banner Project table. She was interested in putting her hand on the banner. I explained participating in making the banner was just for men but I appreciated the support.  She graciously posed for a photo with me. 

Adrienne Wilkinson and myself

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Number One is added to the Men's Banner

This year Jonathan Frakes was a celebrity guest at Comic Con. He is known for his roles as William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gargoyles, NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, Wings, The Twilight Zone, Eight is Enough, Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island.  My favourites were Star Trek and Gargoyles!

With a brief introduction from his manager I met Jonathan Frakes and asked him to place his hand print on the banner. We spoke about my project, why I had begun this initiative and that I wore a Star Trek costume because Star Trek is anti violence against women.  His response was “and we have been for centuries!”  That was awesome.

Jonathan Frakes signing the banner
Jonathan Frakes

Myself and Number One
Jonathan Frakes and Yuri holding the Men's Banner

An Explosive Event!

This weekend my mission was to boldly go where no men's banner has gone before. I took part in the Central Canada Comic Con at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, creating another men's banner on site. Surprisingly this was the best experience I've ever had making a banner. I completed one in two days with no negative encounters.  It was awesome and I'm glowing from happiness. 

Raven Toys Comics and Games is a store that sells classic toys and collectibles, they organize Comic Con each year in Winnipeg. I approached them about the Men’s Banner Project, they were so enthusiastic and accommodating that I was blown away by their kindness. 

I initially thought Comic Con would be a good place to have a banner because it would be bringing the idea of non-violence and respect for women to a specific audience.  Also, not many people know this about me but I’m a really, really big Star Trek fan. I really love it. I grew up watching Star Trek; I loved the stories, the fantasy, the cinematic techniques behind making it and the multiculturalism of the Star Trek universe.  Women are valued in Star Trek; Aboriginal people exist and they fly space ships.  That made a big impact on me as a film maker and activist. 

Saturday October 29th, 2011 Day 1 of the Men’s Banner Project at Comic Con

I was super enthusiastic about my project weeks before the convention. I felt completely positive and even a small scooter accident I was in the week before didn’t worry me.  But, when I arrived Saturday morning and began setting up my booth I was overwhelmed by the event. I felt out of place across from comic book artists and a throng of people wandering about in costume. I thought it was a horrible idea to be there and that no one would want to participate.  

A red Power Ranger walked by and I called out to him. I explained my project and asked if he would put his hand print on the banner. He said of course and that stopping violence against women was what the power rangers were all about. After that I realized it was going to be a really great day.

Red Power Ranger beginning the banner
Yuri was helping me, as he always does

Instead of wearing my Aboriginal outfit, myself and Yuri dressed in Star Trek uniforms. 

My first spider-man
I was so busy creating the banner I didn’t take as many photo’s as I would have liked to. There were so many people dressed up, events, interesting booths and celebrity guests. I met William Shatner, Kevin Sorbo, Jonathan Frakes, Nana Visitor, Ethan Phillips, Chase Masterson and Adrienne Wilkinson, I will be blogging about each encounter separately.

Throughout the day when men walked by I called out "I'm looking for a hero!"  Below is some of the men who responded to my call.

(right) Ian friend and artist
Venom put his hand print down and then brought back his friend Super Boy
Dad and daughter
Dark Knight
A friendly colourful zombie
Enthusiastic young men

Doctor Who
Fellow Star fleet officers
Myself with Sailor Moon and Batgirl
Indiana Jones

Nick Fury aka graphic artist Scott Redding

Friday, October 21, 2011

March tries to Take Back the Night for women

March tries to Take Back the Night for women

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

March tries to Take Back the Night for women

HANDS cupped around candles, hundreds of Manitobans took to the streets on Thursday to shine a light and raise their voices to Take Back the Night.

As the sun set, more than 300 people turned out for the annual march, now in its fourth decade of protesting violence against women.

Though they walked in memory of the lost, the march did not go quietly. They beat drums and raised a cacophony of chants, whistles, songs and scattered claps -- a clattering racket made to smash the silence around women who disappeared forever into the night.

Like the silence of Divas Boulanger, killed and left at a rest stop in Portage la Prairie in 2004, remembered on this march in photos her friends held high towards a darkening sky.

Or like the silenced voice of Hillary Angel Wilson, 18, who vanished into the night in 2009. Her body was found on a road outside Winnipeg, only one month after that of her friend, Cherisse Houle, was discovered. Both were killed. Both of their families still wait for answers.

"We stand in solidarity tonight with all the women who have been abused," said Sally Wai, who helped found the Central Park Women's Resource Centre.

As they gathered in front of the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre -- near where a young girl was abducted and sexually assaulted in spring 2010 -- Wai called for an end to attacks that, she said, amount to a war against women.

"Is someone out there to hear my prayer?" she called. "I am a woman, I am a proud woman, and I always will be... Stop the violence. We have to stand up."

After the march wove through the West End and spilled onto Portage Avenue, then gathered for bannock and tea near the corner of Langside Street and Ellice Avenue, Wilson's aunt Candace Volk straightened the T-shirt that bears her niece's face.

Volk now volunteers with a Facebook page that helps send out alerts and gather information about vanished women and girls. She knows too many of the faces she sees at marches like Take Back the Night.

"You know so many people by face, know that they're going through the same thing you are," Volk said. Her family will celebrate Hillary's birthday in November, still hoping for answers.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2011 A13

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Violence ain’t sexy | The Uniter: Winnipeg’s Weekly Urban Journal

Violence ain’t sexy | The Uniter: Winnipeg’s Weekly Urban Journal

Violence ain’t sexy

SlutWalk falls short of its goals
by FemRev Collective (Volunteer)

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
- Audre Lorde

SlutWalk is coming to Winnipeg – and its message of sexy spectacle is just not good enough.
The first SlutWalk was held in April 2011 in Toronto, in response to Toronto Police Constable Michael Sanguinetti advising women to avoid sexual assaults by not dressing “like sluts.”
SlutWalks have now taken place around the world, with the aims of ending victim blaming and resisting the rape culture, which surrounds women.

FemRev recognizes the need for activism against issues of victim blaming and sexual violence, and stands against comments such as Sanguinetti’s. However, we also recognize that the SlutWalk movement lacks a strong feminist analysis.

Instead of standing against oppressive systems, SlutWalk reinforces these by objectifying women, focusing only on the privileged class and reinforcing the oppression inherent in policing.
SlutWalk ostensibly calls for a reformation of police attitudes without questioning the system of policing itself.
On their Facebook page, SlutWalk organizers in Winnipeg state that police “have perpetuated the myth and stereotype of ‘the slut,’ and in doing so have failed us.”

FemRev’s analysis asserts that policing as a system of “protection” has always failed.
Police brutality has a long and documented history in low-income, indigenous and racialized communities, and many consider state policing as inherently racist, genocidal and oppressive.

SlutWalk does not take into account the voices of these communities, but rather works as a tool to reinforce the harmful power dynamics inherent in policing.
What needs to change is the system itself. 

We support every woman’s right to dress however they choose without the threat of violence or labelling.
SlutWalk works as a tool to reinforce the harmful power dynmamics inherent in policing. What needs to change is the system itself
However, we are concerned that SlutWalk’s reliance on skin and spectacle to relay its message makes sexual violence sexy enough for mainstream media.
This is neither feminist nor empowering; instead it feeds society’s harmful belief that women’s bodies are for public consumption, while perpetuating a limited and patriarchal-defined image of beauty.
Women’s issues deserve media attention because women’s voices and experiences are valuable, not because those voices are delivered by scantily clad bodies. The media’s focus on SlutWalk perpetuates the belief that women should only be listened to if they look a certain kind of sexy.
SlutWalk requires a stronger analysis of oppression. As is, it perpetuates the misleading belief that inherently oppressive and patriarchal systems are fixable.

FemRev asserts that a reform approach is not good enough - instead, we must work toward a total dismantling and undoing of these systems. Anything less is a watered down call for justice.
Women’s realities are varied and diverse. While SlutWalk focuses on issues of the privileged few, many others are fighting for the right not to be reduced to their sexuality; to dress according to religious tradition without facing discrimination; to be protected from harm while working in the sex trade.

Many women aren’t interested in dressing to appease notions of beauty created by patriarchal and capitalist ideals.

Many are too focused on searching for their missing or murdered mothers and sisters, or nursing community wounds of police brutality, to fight for their right to be called a slut.
Others are survivors of sexual violence, and may be triggered by the event.

Many more are simply sick of being called sluts, and don’t want to “reclaim” a word which was never ours.
We urge women and our allies: don’t reclaim the patriarchy, dismantle it.
The word slut ain’t your wrecking ball.
FemRev Collective is a grassroots Winnipeg collective made up of young feminists from diverse backgrounds.