The Big Fat F Word…

IMG_0225Do not shy away from the F Word; it is not something that you need to be afraid of. Stick two fingers up at society and go against the grain, it’s about time the F word was embraced with open arms – make it known that you’re reclaiming the F word as yours, that you’re not afraid to use the word Fat. Fat is bad, fat is unattractive, fat is vile, fat is unhealthy, fat is limiting – these are some of the things that the media has fed us in recent years, proclaiming that if you are fat you are somehow lesser. Whilst being fat has some limitations, I can’t shop in certain retail outlets for example – but hey, it’s not my fault they don’t stock my size, it’s just another example of prejudice against plus-size women – it is up to us as bigger women to…

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Throwback Thursday: 80s Storm

Lady Geek Girl and Friends

1398611782000-Storm-1-Ibanez-Cover via Marvel

For reasons that should be obvious, Storm is one of my favorite X-Men and favorite Marvel characters besides. However, there is one reason that stands out above all the others: she is unapologetic. Going through Ororo Munroe’s publication history, all the way back to her 1973 origin story, one finds few examples where Storm caves to feeling sorry for any part of her identity. Storm is unapologetically Black, unapologetically African, unapologetically a woman and a leader, and unapologetically powerful.

While she lacks a well-developed rogues’ gallery as an individual, she stands out among the female X-Men as largely not having been portrayed as some kind of embarrassing stereotype. She is not Jean Grey, constantly out of control, shuttled back and forth between men who have no idea how to treat women, and dying every other week. She is not Psylocke, characterized by her crippling identity issues. Beyond other…

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My Feminism Plays Nice with BDSM

Femme Fatale

As a feminist I struggle with what i feel is objectifying and counter to my feminist philosophies daily, as I encounter various television shows, movies, books and hashtag activism online. I’ve even struggled with how i interact with pornography. As a staunch sex-positive person, I feel that embracing pleasure as a right and exploring one’s body in whatever way (consensually and legally speaking) pleases oneself is healthy and wonderfully fulfilling. Yet, one cannot deny the truth, some pornography (I will not generalize and say that all or even most) is demeaning and perpetuates the very sexist patriarchal institutions that we (as a people) must negotiate for our very safety and equity everyday. This brings me to what type of porn can I personally watch which is less offensive and gets me off still. There is in fact feminist pornography which uses many sex-positive tactics and consent-based platforms to show conversation…

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We wouldn’t accept actors blacking up, so why applaud ‘cripping up’? | Frances Ryan | Comment is free | theguardian.com

We wouldn’t accept actors blacking up, so why applaud ‘cripping up’?

Eddie Redmayne, who won a Golden Globe for playing Stephen Hawking, is the latest in a long line of non-disabled actors to portray disabled characters

“If you do a film about the Holocaust, you’re guaranteed an Oscar,” goes the famous Kate Winslet joke in Extras. The same can be said for an actor doing a film about disability. Unless you’re a disabled actor, that is. Then you’re lucky to even get the part.

This week, when Eddie Redmayne won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, he became the latest in a long line of non-disabled actors to portray disabled characters. And to walk away – literally – with an award for doing so. From Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, the ability to play “disability” is a definite asset for an actor, a source of genuine acclaim.

But is this as harmless as mainstream audiences seem to see it? While “blacking up” is rightly now greeted with outrage, “cripping up” is still greeted with awards. Is there actually much difference between the two? In both cases, actors use prosthetics or props to alter their appearance in order to look like someone from a minority group. In both cases they often manipulate their voice or body to mimic them. They take a job from an actor who genuinely has that characteristic, and, in doing so, perpetuate that group’s under-representation in the industry. They do it for the entertainment of crowds who, by and large, are part of the majority group.

Daniel Radcliffe, centre, with Sarah Greene and Pat Shortt in The Cripple Of Inishmaan
Daniel Radcliffe, centre, with Sarah Greene and Pat Shortt in The Cripple Of Inishmaan at the Cort Theatre in New York. Photograph: Andrew Toth/Getty Images

The explanations for “cripping up” are obvious. The entertainment industry is a business, after all, and stars sell. When Daniel Radcliffe played a disabled orphan in The Cripple of Inishmaan this won more headlines for the production than if a disabled, lesser-known actor had been cast. On a practical level too, perhaps hiring a non-disabled actor is easier. The ability to walk allows Redmayne to portray Hawking before being diagnosed with motor neurone disease. But I can’t get away from the fact that, if these arguments were made for white actors “playing black”, our outrage would be so great that the scenes would be left on the cutting room floor.

There’s a theory of why non-disabled actors playing disabled characters leads to success: audiences find it reassuring. Christopher Shinn, a playwright who had a below-the-knee amputation, describes the act of watching a disabled character being played by an actor who we know is really fit and well as allowing society’s “fear and loathing around disability” to be “magically transcended”.

When it comes down to it, Shinn says, “pop culture is more interested in disability as a metaphor than in disability as something that happens to real people”.

Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot
Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot. Photograph: ITV/Rex Features

After all, disabled characters create powerful images and sentiments for audiences. They can symbolise the triumph of the human spirit over so-called “adversity”. They can represent what it is to be “different” in some way, an outsider or an underdog who ultimately becomes inspirational. These are universal feelings every audience member can identify with. And there is something a little comforting in knowing, as we watch the star jump around the red carpet, that none of it – the pain or negativity we still associate with disability – was real.

Perhaps that’s part of the problem. Perhaps as a society we see disability as a painful external extra rather than a proud, integral part of a person, and so it doesn’t seem quite as insulting to have non-disabled actors don prosthetics or get up from a wheelchair when the director yells “cut”. But for many disabled people in the audience, this is watching another person fake their identity. When it comes to race, we believe it is wrong for the story of someone from a minority to be depicted by a member of the dominant group for mass entertainment. But we don’t grant disabled people the same right to self-representation.

Perhaps it is time to think before we next applaud “cripping up”. Disabled people’s lives are more than something for non-disabled actors to play at.


We wouldn’t accept actors blacking up, so why applaud ‘cripping up’? | Frances Ryan | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

The Backlash Against African Women – NYTimes.com

The Backlash Against African Women


The Backlash Against African Women – NYTimes.com.

Take Back the Night in Montreal – Feminists March for a Safer Concordia

CKUT 90.3 FM News Collective

(Photo: ACAB Media) (Photo: ACAB Media)

[audio http://www.mediacoop.ca/sites/mediacoop.ca/files2/mc/audio/ckut_news/tbtn_mixdown_final.mp3]

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This past Friday November 21 was the annual Take Back the Night march hosted by Concordia Center for Gender Advocacy as part of their ‘A Safer Concordia’ campaign. The march from Guy Concordia to McGill campus opposes gendered and sexual violence and  promotes safe public spaces.

Produced for the CKUT news collective by Celia Robinovitch

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Unwanted Male Attention: Catcalling, and Why I feel Uncomfortable with “Politeness”

Femme Fatale

By now, we have all seen the Catcalling video that went viral a few months back as a woman walked around New York for 10 hrs with a hidden camera. She received over one hundred instances of unwanted male attention. Yes, I am calling it unwanted male attention and not catcalling because one of the largest criticisms of the video is the idea that most of the men in it, were simply being “nice”. Some were most definitely instances of catcalling as I would define it: pointing out a woman’s features in a sexual or derogatory way “God Bless you mami… Damn!”. Catcalling can also mean an obvious attempt at objectifying: “I just saw a thousand dollars” (as she walks by). Others were simply a form of intimidation and possible minor stalking as one man followed her for more than 5 minutes.

Unwanted male attention is something which many women…

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