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the future of feminism?

December 7th, 2008     by Jenna Owsianik     Comments

During memorial periods for the Montreal Massacre, the concept of feminism seems to receive a little bit more mainstream media airtime than usual. Well, maybe not if you count happenings such as the whole Sarah Palin debacle, but generally speaking, feminism takes a back seat if it’s not being dragged under the car itself.

This weekend, two particular yet absolutely polarized columns questioning the future of feminism caught my attention. One was authored by anti-feminist apologist Barbara Kay of the National Post and the second by Sarah Ghabrial, a co-founder of The Miss G__ Project for Equity in Education.

Kay’s editorial, which is hackneyed and inflammatory, operated to bait those who she branded radical feminists for supporting November as Domestic Violence awareness month. “Truth in advertising suggests it should be Y Chromosome Apartheid Month,” she further claims. She then goes on to provide a series of misleading statistics in order to conclude that us supposed man-hating and angry radical feminists blow everything out of proportion for our own fear-mongering and misandrist agendas. I wish I had that much free time.

Instead of wasting mine, going point by point to refute her incredulous feminist-bashing arguments and to mention that just because someone supports women doesn’t mean they want all of mankind to suffer and die, I’d rather avoid her diversionary tactic altogether.

Ms. Gabrial’s worthy article, on the other hand, explores the media reaction to the death of Aqsa Parvez and the subsequent meaning, or possible lack thereof, it gave to the current state of feminism. The murder of the young Toronto woman by her Pakistani father incited a craze of media attention. Too much, explains Ghabrial:

“Aqsa’s story is a profoundly Canadian one, disturbingly ordinary. One might expect that, like countless similar cases, Aqsa’s murder would be casually buried beneath other stories deemed more ‘news-worthy.’ Instead, her case crowned headlines for weeks, and fed an endless loop of debate and controversy over the state of ‘multiculturalism’ in Canada.”

Instead of investigating the incident as one of gender-violence against a woman of colour, it was overlooked as an isolated cultural event. It reinforced “the racist assumptions that keep ‘our’ values liberal and ‘theirs’ backwards - notions that in turn keep this country solidly white and impenetrable” continues Ghabrial.

She closes saying:

The week that encompasses December 6 - 10 should be a time to remember all women who are affected by gender-based violence, who are most prominently women of colour (especially Aboriginal women) and women living in poverty. This is a period of mourning and remembrance, but even more, it is an opportunity to re-imagine feminist politics and action against gender-based violence along a number of fronts.

I highly recommend reading her piece.

Tags: media savvy, race and racism

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