Volume 7, Number 1 October 2010
Across the Generations by Anne Forrest Friends of Women‟s Studies are delighted to host Jessica Yee as our Distinguished Visitor in Women‟s Studies for 2010. What better way to celebrate our tenth anniversary than by looking to the future of feminist activism? A self-described feminist for more than half of her 25 years, Jessica is one of the many remarkable young women whose commitment to gender equality in all of its forms gives hope to us all. Our theme this year is solidarity across the many generations of feminists whose rebellions –large and small – create more space for the women and men who choose to follow. Friends of Women‟s Studies have come to think of this connection between past and present as gift-giving: the gift of feminist ideas, politics, and possibilities. As with all carefully chosen, heart-felt gifts, feminists of my generation hope that what we believed and did will be of value to young women today. But the true gift-giver knows she cannot supervise or control how – or even whether – her gift will be used. Friends of Women‟s Studies are challenging ourselves to engage in dialogue and collaboration with young women whose feminist ideas and practice are both like and unlike that of the 1960s, 70s, 80s. We want to avoid the frustrating and unproductive mother-daughter tugs of war familiar to so many of us. In theory, we accept that we may not always understand or approve. The proof will be our practice: Can we give young women the space to make the feminism(s) relevant to their circumstances? Can we support young women as they make their own mistakes and learn from their own practice? This year‟s Distinguished Visitor in Women‟s Studies week is both a moment of celebration and a challenge. We weren‟t sure we would make it this far, but now that we‟re here ,we‟re thinking about the next ten years. We hope you will stay with us to help shape the future of the program that you helped to build. Your support and encouragement, your generous contributions of time and money, are what make this program possible. ***** Young feminists think of themselves as Third Wave feminists. If you want to know more about the „waves‟ read Christine Rossi‟s informative piece, Catch a Wave and Equality’s Part of Your World.
TAKE BACK THE NIGHT MARCH Friday, October 29 Rally at Dieppe Park at 8 p.m. March begins 8:30 p.m. After the march there will be hot chocolate and bake sale in support of the Well-Come Centre for Human Potential. Men are asked to show their support by participating in the rally but not the march.
Peek at the Week Thursday 21 October 11:30 a.m. – 12:50 p.m. As an Indigenous Feminist, I Have Reason to be Angry Location: Vanier Hall, Oak Room Open to the public 2:30 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. From Home to the Streets - Un“Conditionalizing” Feminist Activism Location: Vanier Hall, Oak Room Open to the public 7:00 p.m. – 9:50 p.m. The Right to Bear and Raise Our Children: The Challenges Facing Aboriginal Mothers Open to the public Saturday 23 October Health and Youth Community Drum Social 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Location: St. Clair College, Main Campus Open to the public Sunday 24 October 2:00 p.m. – 4:300 p.m. In Conversation With...Jessica Yee An afternoon of friendship and conversation Location: Seasons Bistro, 5975 Malden Rd., LaSalle This event is free for members of 250 for $250 and major donors. Tickets: $250 Monday 25 October 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Aboriginal Women’s Reproductive Rights under Colonialism Location: Dillon Hall 265 Open to the public 2:30 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. Sex Positivity and the Real World of Feminism Location: Chrysler Hall North G133 Open to the public Tuesday 26 October 1:00 p.m. – 2:20 p.m. Get Out of the Waves and Question the “Intersections” Feminism as a way of life Location: Vanier Hall, Winclare A Open to the public 4:00 p.m. – 5:20 p.m. Sexual Health Is EVERYONE’S Responsibility Location: Odette School of Business B03 Open to the public For more information, call 519-253-3000 ext. 3727, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit room 253 Chrysler Hall South, 201 Sunset Ave.
On- campus parking is available at the Assumption Church lot on University Ave. or in the University pay-and-display lots located on Huron Church Rd. at Peter St. or on Sunset Ave. south of Wyandotte Ave.
An Introduction to Jessica Yee by Tawnie Grayer Excerpts from a talk at the Sneak Preview on August 26, 2010
It is my honour and pleasure to share my excitement in welcoming Jessica Yee as our Distinguished Visitor for 2010. Ten years is a milestone. We have much to be proud of but milestone moments are not only a point of reflection where we celebrate accomplishments that now lay in the past… they also provide an opportunity to consider the future. Where do we go from here? As time passes we become more aware of our own brevity, our own transience and we ask ourselves – how far can I go, as an individual? Who will continue the work I am so passionate about when my season ends? Jessica Yee‟s work speaks to that very idea. She calls for an acknowledgement of the value that youth lend to issues of social importance. The refusal to share power, the refusal to share space is what Yee points to when she says mainstream feminism, rooted in Second Wave ideologies and practices, “must be dismantled” in order to make space for the next generation to engage in their own way. The refusal of the Second-Wavers to share power and space with the Third Wave of activists is a barrier to the solidarity that is crucial for the work to continue. Yee‟s ideas illustrate the very real threat of the Second Wave taking their “power to the grave” with them rather than pass the torch on to someone who does not look like them or live like them - but is fighting the same injustices. So how will Yee‟s presence provide us direction for the future? That depends on us. She says change will only come about through having the difficult conversations; conversations that start from the position of saying, “We disagree… but so what?” Let‟s do the work to sort these issues out together, from a position of equal power, regardless of our difference. Let‟s sow the power of the principles of justice and human rights into those who will remain long after we are gone. My generation is not only able; we are willing, we are capable and are eager to continue the work. Jessica Yee is proof.
Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies University of Windsor
Week of Events: October 21-28, 2010
SAVE THE DATE Community Dinner Date: Wednesday 27 October Time: 5:30 p.m. Reception, 6:30 p.m. Dinner Place: G. Caboto Club, 2175 Parent Ave. at Tecumseh Rd.
Photo credit: Kevin Johnson
Let’s Start Talking by Rachel Kovach The Friends of Women‟s Studies Sneak Preview is an event designed to introduce the upcoming Distinguished Visitor in Women‟s Studies. Those who are invited to this event are financial contributors to the Distinguished Visitor program or a member of the Friends of Women‟s Studies. I attended the 2010 Sneak Preview as a member of the Women‟s Studies Student Association. I came to this event as a student, a young woman, a feminist, and because of the time I was born, the label “Third Wave” could also be applied to me. How did I feel being surrounded by women mostly considered „Second Wave‟? Fantastic. In classes I learn that there exists a rift between Second and Third Wave generations of feminists. Undoubtedly there have been some tensions, but I have never experienced this in my life and I hope that I never do. Being connected to other women, no matter our ages, is important to me and important to feminism today. Dr. Forrest opened the evening by speaking about the need to connect Second-Wavers with the new Third Wave. This is so important, not only in our university, but in our families and communities. The theme of this year is solidarity. I can really see Jessica Yee driving home this point and challenging us to examine our own relationships. Tawnie introduced some main ideas that Yee will speak to us about. One major idea is that women from both the “waves” need to come together from a place of equal power and have some difficult discussions to sort out the issues between the two waves. I agree that we should be working together to mend the existing rift, not just as teachers-students or older-younger, but as friends and as a community of women. Now we all have an idea of what work needs to be done in the near future – who‟s ready to start?
Taking the Pulse My Survey of the Distinguished Visitor Program by Courtney Williston In the fall of 2009, I was given the opportunity to work with the Friends of Women‟s Studies to develop and conduct a survey of $250 for 250+ members and other financial supporters of the Distinguished Visitor in Women‟s Studies program. We gathered much more information than we can present here, but I would like to share some of the key findings. The majority of responders felt the DV program is successful in supporting women‟s issues and bringing women together, and should seek to expand its presence in the community. They also placed a high value on the program‟s commitment to providing a platform for unique, deserving women to share their experiences and ideas in a public venue and in settings that are more intimate. Overwhelmingly, people said they value the opportunities the DV events provide for like-minded women and men in the Windsor community to network and maintain their community and University relationships. While most respondents think that the DV program does a good job of raising awareness of women‟s issues in WindsorEssex , they think that the profile of the program can (and should!) be raised within the community. I would like to say thank you to everyone who was involved in this process – from the development of the survey to each individual respondent – your input was invaluable.
What the Chic Young Woman Will Wear by Anne Forrest If you were around in the 1970s and even remotely connected to political causes, you will remember the button. Whatever the cause, there was a button that summed up the issue succinctly and often humorously. I fondly remember my Nixon Drinks Canada Dry button created for a campaign to stop American appropriation of Canadian water – still an issue. In those hopeful, heady days everyone I knew had politics. We readily banded together in “Committee for…” and “Committee against…” and expected to have an effect on the world. The (many) buttons on our jackets, bags, and hats proudly told the world what we thought and what we were planning to do. These are different times. Young people today seem more individualistic and less inclined to see the politics at work in the world around them. Their approach to social change is more personal than collective. And, yet, the button is back. Young feminists have rediscovered the mix of politics and fun in buttons that both surprise and educate the reader. This Is What a Feminist Looks Like is a bold and brave statement given the “been-there-done-that” status of feminist politics and the dissing of feminists as old-maidish. Photo credit: Rachel Kovach and Natalie Browning-Morgan
Buttons Are for Everyone A note from Susan Pedler Just got your package...I've dished out all the buttons… Everyone's wearing them. The best is Tom Taylor wearing a This Is What a Feminist Looks Like button! LOVING THEM. p.s. Taylor IS a feminist. I‟ve just blown his cover. Thank you to Carol Reader and Terry Chow for making the hundreds of buttons distributed this year. We took many to the Women in the City expo in September - My Mother Is My Hero was a particular favourite - and scores more will be given out at the Distinguished Visitor Community Dinner and Take Back the Night March. How is the DV Experience Different Knowing that Jessica Yee Is a Young Feminist? by Rebecca Donnelly It is very inspiring hearing the voice of a young activist like Jessica Yee. I think, as young people, we often forget that we have a voice too. Having a young DV is especially important during the 10th year anniversary of the program. Her words are refreshing and her perspectives and her work seem to be far from the mainstream. I can‟t think of a better role model we can all learn from!
Catch aWave and Equality’s Part of Your World by Christine Rossi Feminist surfing can be broken down into four easy steps: Step 1: Understanding „wave knowledge‟: Recognize how to read the waves, and where to position yourself in order to catch the wave. This is very important to successfully achieve standing up. Step 2: Education: Utilize your equipment correctly while riding all three waves. Equipment includes: courage, balance, and the ability to face challenges placed in the surf before you, head on.
Step 3: Preparation: Prepare and educate yourself for the three different waves you will encounter in the surf, feeling free to ride it for eternity. Step 4: The “Buddy System”: Yes, feminist surfing, in itself, is always fun. However, there is something to be said about being out there in the surf with your “gal pals,” creating a more meaningful experience.
.First-Wave The Woman Movement
Second-Wave The Women‟s Liberation Movement
You will encounter this wave in the mid-18th Century until the 1920s.
You will encounter this wave in the early 1960s which will last until the late 1970s.
Types of surfers you will encounter: The Maternal/ Social Feminist The Equal Rights Feminist
Types of surfers you will encounter: The Liberal Feminist The Radical Feminist
The Surfer’s Goals: 1) To hold property. 2) To maintain their own earned wages. 3) To improve social conditions for women and children. 4) To be considered a „person‟ under the law. 5) To obtain the right to vote.
The Surfer’s Goals: 1) To obtain social rights. 2) To obtain economic rights. 3) To obtain political rights. 4) To obtain reproductive rights. 5) To make the personal political
Third-Wave Contrary to popular belief this wave is still cresting You will encounter this wave in the early 1990s. It continues today. You will encounter many intersections of diverse surfers in this wave. Types of surfers you will encounter: All surfers define their own feminism for themselves by acting as their own agents. The Surfer’s Goals: 1) To challenge definitions of femininity. 2) To achieve a post-structuralist interpretation of gender and sexuality. 3) To reclaim women‟s language. 4) To make the personal political. 5) To reject gender binaries.
Final note: Waves of feminism are still living, breathing, and continuously evolving all around you, so grab a boogie board, become a feminist surfer if you are not one already, and ride this current wave with me.
Past and Present We are grateful to Windsor fabric-artist, Robin Morey, for allowing us to use images of her quilts in this year‟s DV materials. It was Second Wave feminists who elevated the quilt from women‟s handicraft to art status. Yet, perversely, few Second Wavers can sew. Sewing was one of those forms of women‟s work shunned by women who sought recognition in the public sphere. Others were simply too busy to learn a skill whose raison d’être was frugality. Now, there‟s a new generation of young women for whom sewing is about self-expression.
How I Became a Stitchin’ Bitch by Nicole Beuglet My interest in crocheting and crafting developed when I needed a way to give friends and family “made-from-heart” and inexpensive gifts. My crocheted gifts became quite popular and soon I was showing the receivers of these gifts how to crochet. Crocheting and crafting began to connect me to people through a common interest of creativity. Just as people in my life were connected through crafting, women have often bonded through this medium. Meeting in groups to knit or crochet while husbands were at war, women would support each other through this common activity, forming friendships and gaining support.
These activities became a stereotype of femininity, and women‟s bonding experiences were interpreted as shallow gossip sessions. As a way to reject traditional notions of femininity, women of the Second Wave abandoned crafting as a tie to domesticity. Today, crafting is being transformed through the activity of “stitch „n‟ bitch.” Stitch „n‟ bitch circles have become a popular way for young women to get together, similar to the women whose husbands were away at war. Modern women are using this craft to reject dominant mass produced consumer items by expressing their individuality through practical, wearable art and crafts. Reclaiming both the skills and the word “bitch” is an empowering way for women to bond while engaging in creativity.
Photo credit: Aelwynn Swanson
Welcoming First Year Students by Cassandra Thomas This year during the Women‟s Studies Welcome Week Event hosted at the Green Bean Cafe, first year students were able to meet and greet with current Women‟s Studies students and professors while participating in making t-shirts that uniquely identified themselves. The upper year students participated in our own mini t-shirt making workshop a week before the Welcome Week event. At this workshop we experimented with a number of mediums and created our own t-shirts. We used silk screening, iron-on patches, sewing, gluing and t-shirt paint. I used the fabric of a boy‟s racing car t-shirt to construct the woman‟s symbol and glued the symbol to the front of a white shirt. My t-shirt was a simple design, but the irony of using a masculine design to create a feminine symbol made me feel empowered wearing it. As a forth year Women‟s Studies student, the event was a great opportunity to connect with first year students coming into the Women‟s Studies program. It was great to hear their excitement about the program and their views on issues. Making t-shirts was interactive and a great way to advocate for feminism(s) and identity as women. Being a part of a large group of women doing a creative activity to promote feminism and individuality was very motivating and exciting. The atmosphere of the event was positive and friendly. First year students left with new friends, knowing future classmates and a more personal relationship with their professors. As well, I met future classmates and new friends and was able to re-connect with professors. The Welcome Week event proved to be beneficial for first year students and for us upper year students both. It was a great success. Photo credit: Aelwynn Swanson
Special Thank Yous To Christine Chenier of Saint Flamingo. Christine‟s fabric art skills and designs enlivened the Women‟s Windsor Welcome Week event, and To Heather Hartley and Aelywnn Swanson whose video record of the event will be posted on the Women‟s Studies website: www.uwindsor.ca/womens
On activism: “I think oftentimes people think in order to be activist you have to be this protest picket waving person loudmouth, but I learn all the time from people who do something completely different from me. I learn from people who are activists at home.” On youth empowerment: “Do people support youth because it sounds good or do they support youth to the point of young people taking up power and space? That requires other people to give up some of their power. People don’t want to give up power, not in actuality.”
Jessica Yee Distinguished Visitor in Women’s Studies 2010 Jessica Yee describes herself as a “multiracial Indigenous hip-hop feminist reproductive justice freedom fighter.” The 25 year-old activist has been working with women‟s organizations for half of her life, and is internationally recognized as a feminist leader on cultural competency, anti-racism initiatives, and sexual health. Yee grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, where she learned the importance of standing up against injustice early on, for example, supporting gay students who were forbidden from bringing their dates to prom, and acting as the unofficial go-to person for other students facing crises about sexuality and pregnancy. Yee cites her mother as a powerful influence on her commitment to social justice. “She was always honest with my sister and I growing up. She never hid us from things she thought we couldn't handle. It was empowering.” At age 20, together with her sister and best friend, Yee founded the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, a North America wide organization, working to provide services on the issues of healthy sexuality, cultural competency, youth empowerment, reproductive justice, and sex positivity by and for Native youth. Yee started NYSHN due to her frustration with the way mainstream organizations addressed the sexual health needs of Native youth: “I felt like as an Aboriginal person or as an Indigenous person, or even as a multiracial person and a person of colour, I didn‟t feel represented when I looked at sort of the mainstream organizational structure of reproductive and sexual health,” she says. She was also fed up with organizations only giving lip service to youth engagement and peer education. For her, the power of youth activism is paramount. Yee finds inspiration in the everyday activists she meets. She notes that you don't have to be at a rally with a picket sign to be an activist; rather, she learns from “activists at home.” “If they‟re in their home community where they‟re dealing with the most horrendous realities, and living with the effects of colonialism for example, in every sense of the word, their activism is just by living, just by surviving,” she says. “That gives me a lot of fire.” Jessica Yee is executive director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and the 2009 recipient of the YWCA Young Woman of Distinction award. Yee is editor of Sex Ed and Youth: Colonization, Communities of Colour, and Sexuality. On identity: “I think about my life and my background as a sea of intersections, which I guess are difficult for some people to handle but I understand myself very easily and where I come from. It’s not that difficult to comprehend, but it doesn’t fit into a nice box.” On media: “Mainstream media is part of the problem. As Chuck D from Public Enemy says, you have to question everything that comes at you, and get it from multiple sources. There’s so many problems, which is why I think alternative media is extremely important.”