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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas or April Fool?

Stephen Harper has been named chair of the new maternal health panel. The joke is on us.

There's not much more to say about that, but definitely have a look at Dammit Janet's take on it.

Who will help those mother's who don't conform to Mr. Harper's odd ideas of what women are (babymakers) and what justifies giving health supports (babymaking)? What about the women who don't want to be mothers, at least not right now? Mr. Harper commits the logical flaw conflating women and mothers. And if you don't know why that's a problem, do some reading for goodness sakes. I recommend Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution.

Maybe I should do what Yann Martel does and give Mr. Harper a bi-weekly feminist reading. I'm sure that would elicit a similar response that Mr. Martel has received, which is stony silence.

What was Ban Ki-moon thinking?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dear Annonymous Commenter:

Dear Annonymous Commenter:

You said, "I'm sure you won't have the courage to post this."  It takes no "courage" at all for me to post your comment in which you say I should be ashamed for being against bill C-510. I feel no shame at all, and in fact feel quite a bit of pride in playing my part to have this nonsensical bill defeated. It was (so happy to be using the past tense) a bill which was redundant in its alleged attempt to protect women and sly in many ways. Even Mr. Harper and much of his cabinet voted against it. You should, perhaps, read the existing criminal code and you would know that this bill would indeed have done nothing to help women at all. But thanks for your comment. I might add that it takes courage to SIGN YOUR NAME on your opinions, own them and be willing to take flak from strangers because of them.

And, besides, this is a place for pro-choice news and views. Or didn't you see that?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do you want to know how your MP voted on C-510?

Then check out this link. Everyone is listed. Interesting reading.

I don't know why Mr. Ignatieff did not vote, but I'll let you know if I find out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Wispy" Abortion Rights

Thanks to Heather Mallick for her wonderful article in the Toronto Star. I've got to say that the Toronto Star is my favourite paper in Canada right now and Ms. Mallick remains one of my favourite opinion makers. As always, she tells it like it is. We can't point out often enough that abortion rights are uneven across Canada and all of us have to realize it wouldn't take much (a Conservative majority) to put us all back to 1980. Bad enough that our sisters in the North, in rural Canada, in PEI and in NB are still there.

Also excellent reading is Hansard from the great C-510 debate. Look at it here, and read what your MPs had to say in your House of Commons. Reading this it's easy to see why Ms. Mallick calls our abortion rights "wispy." Great term. I'd call them constantly jeopardized, misunderstood, partial, and in need of our protection.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Case for the Bubble Zone

Recently, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada completed a survey about clinic harrassment with an eye to understanding what types of legal intervention may be helpful. Specifically, they wondered whether "bubble zone" legislation that exists in British Columbia could be a useful model for other provinces to adopt to protect their clinics. The bubble zone mandates a perimeter around facilities that provide abortion within which protesters cannot enter. It is a "safe zone" for patients and staff, and means that they will not have to face protester harrassment and violence. Protesters and sidewalk proselytizers can do whatever they want to do outside the zone.

Now magazine in Toronto recently published a great article by Nick Van Der Graaf that refers to this study and describes sidewalk harrassment from a clinic escort's point of view. The article is interesting because it suggests that bubble zone legislation may be the key to balancing the right of women to access medical services without harassment or violence against the right of anti-choice protesters for free speech. I think he makes a great case in favour of the bubble zone law - the protesters get to protest but women and clinic workers remain safe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6.

On this day in 1989, fourteen women were murdered and another nine women and four men were injured at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. The singling out of women was no accident. The gunman entered a classroom, asked the men to leave and then murdered the women. The women were murdered because they were women in a male dominated field - women in an engineering school. In the mind of the murderer, they were feminists taking the “rightful place” of men. This is what their murderer said.

Many of us were unable to take any solace in the repetitious use of phrases like “armed madman” in the media. We knew this was not a solitary act perpetrated by a psychotic madman. We knew it was indicative of a sustained attack against women, an attack as old as patriarchy. The Montreal Massacre exists on a continuum with all other violence against women, violence like the enforced financial dependence of wives and mothers, domestic abuse, rape, and the denial of reproductive rights. It exists along side of the misogynist reality in which women can never be without blame, can never quite do “it” right, whatever “it” is. It exists along side of another reality in which women and others with less power are expected to change their behaviour so as not to bring violence on themselves. Historically, it exists on the same continuum as the gendercide of the witch-hunts. Globally, it exists on the same continuum of the death of thousands and thousands of peoples in Africa of HIV/Aids while drugs exist for treatment. It exists on the same continuum of war in which our limited social resources are dedicated to killing each other.

The Montreal Massacre has been analyzed as another example of the backlash against feminism. It certainly is, but this analysis takes it out of the historical and global context in which violence underwrites the lives of women in patriarchal society. We knew at the time, and still know now, that it is connected to the oppression of people by gender, race, ability, sexuality, and age. Our consciousness of this is also under attack, has become part of the backlash. We are told to continue to pretend we do not know what we know. For example, at the time of the Montreal Massacre, there seemed to be a greater sense of outrage in the media that men were being blamed for violence against women than for the fact that 14 women were dead. “They” (whoever they are) wanted to believe this was not an attack on women. They made note of the four injured men. In doing so, they left out the fact that the murderer only took aim at men who interfered and that the murderer’s suicide note specifically mentioned his intent to kill feminists. They ignored the fact that he systematically singled out the women in the classrooms and demanded the men leave.

And it is worth noting that the men left. Report after report indicated there was no resistance to the murderer’s separation of the students by gender. Perhaps leaving as they did really was the only sane response that the men could have. I don’t know what I would have done – I wasn’t there and I’m not a man. But the men left and this makes me sad because I do know that violence will not end without the solidarity of the peaceful.

Our consciousness that violence is the ultimate coercive tool used by enforcers of oppressive systems is the biggest threat of all to those oppressive systems. In fact, when we look at the overwhelming statistics about violence in our society, even just a small sampling of them, we know that violence must indeed be tacitly acceptable as a means of enforcing our oppressive systems if figures like this reflect even a small portion the day to day reality of peoples’ lives. And of course, focusing on the 14 women in Montreal distracts us from the genocide perpetrated against Aboriginal women, violence against prostitutes, the children (male and female) who are abused every day – it can look elitist and classist. I am the first to admit this. But whatever it takes to wake us up – to bring us to consciousness - whether it is the Montreal Massacre or September 11 – we must welcome our awareness and resist the temptation to let go of this consciousness. We must do whatever we can to free people from their prisons of violence and in doing so spread the hope that there is another way. We who are conscious of the violence share our hope that peace is possible, peace in our homes and in our own hearts, peace in our relationships, and peace with the earth.

The Abortion Monologues is now available as an e-book here at Smashwords.