Archive for the ‘Activism’ Category

I haven’t posted in a while. 756 days to be exact (that’s a made up number). The reasoning? Feeling like the world is going to shit and there’s nothing I can do about it. Why have I decided to post today? Sex. Sexual misconduct. Sexual harassment. Sexual abuse. Sexual Violence. Rape. Molestation. CONSENT.

I started this blog eight years ago because I wanted to share my feelings, ideas, opinions and thoughts with the world. I had such strong feelings about my experiences and surroundings and was curious if anyone felt the same way. I never once used my blog as a teaching tool. I wasn’t writing to preach my opinions or convince others to see the world through my eyes. I often put disclaimers on my posts stating I don’t know anything about anything.

This is not that kind of blog post.

Today I not only have something to say, but I have something to teach. Today I AM going to try and convince you to see the world as I do. Today there will be no disclaimer.

There is much discussion about the increasing amount of sexual harassment* coming to light in every country, city, town, business, sport, school, house, room and bed on this planet. If you haven’t heard or still don’t realize, sexual harassment* happens everywhere, to every kind of person. If this is shocking to you than you are one of the privileged people who was born with a set of amour that gives you a mild form of protection against this abuse. However, even that amour cannot protect you 100%. How do I know this? Because I was born with a set of amour, white, middle class amour, and I was not fully protected by it.

There is much discussion about why sexual harassment* has become so rampant in global society. There is even more discussion about why sexual harassment* is STILL happening in the so called “developed world”. I know the answer. Sexual abuse* has been a part of human society since humans began recording their history and I would argue since long before that. In fact, it is still legal in many countries to sexually abuse* women, men and children as a form of punishment or retribution.

In countries where sexual harassment* is illegal there is a fear and stigma built up around it that makes it almost impossible for those experiencing it to defend, speak up, and demand justice for themselves. When those brave few are able to grab a hold of their voice they are then ripped apart by family, friends, coworkers, judges, police officers, and the media.

In short, sexual abuse* has always been here.

I’m not sad. I’m not depressed.  I’m not in despair. I am enraged. I am burning up inside. I am about to explode in a fiery feminist ball of fury!

There is no other option. THIS. MUST. END. The time was up long ago.

I have a suggestion. I have an answer. I do not have THE answer but an answer, because as with all social issues there is no one way to move forward. Instead we must create an endless river of consistent changes. However, no matter the issue (poverty, racism, sexism, violence) the river must always start with the youngest of people, with the intervention of early education. And not just standardized education. Sexual education. Compassionate education. Anthropological and sociological education.

There’s a reason we start school when we are young. It is how we as humans learn. We take our time to mature and develop. You don’t start primary/elementary school learning how to read Tolstoy or doing complex calculus or being expected to solve physic problems. Instead we start by learning the alphabet, and simple numbers. Then we move up to spelling small words, and adding tiny numbers etc. Our education is gradual. Sexual education should be no different. Sex ed should move from simple understandings about the body to more in depth discussions about things like intimacy, pleasure, contraception, and STI protection in high school and beyond.

Why isn’t current sexual education gradual? Or worse, why is sexual education non-existent for the majority of the world’s population?

When we grow up learning about sex it will no longer be a taboo or shameful topic to discuss. People should grow up understanding that sex is not be used as a form of power over someone else. Sex should not be used as a form of control. Sex should not damage your sole. Sex should not be used as a fear tactic. Sex should be about fun and pleasure, and if you want it to, sex can also be about reproduction. Sex should be built on the foundation of respect for each others bodies and for our own.

Some will argue that sex* is too complex for children to understand, but it’s not. When I speak about sexual education I really mean body education, autonomy education. Children should and must grow up with the understanding that their body is their own. WE OWN OUR BODIES. Therefore, we make the rules for our bodies. We decide what feels good, who can touch us, and when we want something to stop or keep going. We are the sole givers of consent and we reserve the right to revoke it at any time, in any space.

I own my body. I am an expert in my life experiences. I know that sexual education can and will drastically reduce sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual violence, rape, and molestation. Do you?

Note: I understand that cultural differences and understandings affect the ability of sexual education to be taught in school. However, cultural differences cannot and should not be blamed for sexual abuse, except in a global sense. I know that not a single person on this planet WANTS to be sexually abused/harassed/violated/raped/molested regardless of their race, culture, religion or creed. Therefore, these differences should not be a reason to give up the fight against sexual abuse/violence/harassment/rape/molestation.

I also understand that formal education is not offered to millions of people, however sexual education is something that does not need a classroom to be taught!

* This post is about all forms of sexual abuse, harassment, misconduct, rape, molestation, violence. So when I use one of these terms I am really mean all of these.

If you are experiencing sexual abuse tell someone you trust.

This is a personal essay I wrote for my Women’s Life Writing class based on the question “If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?”

Have you ever pleaded with The Universe to change something about your life, begged the all encompassing “creator” to please just make you normal? I have. I spent much of my life wanting to change my sexuality. Although I grew up in a house hold where I was exposed to homosexuality as a young age this exposure did not help me in my own accepting of who I was. My first memory of homosexuality was when I was seven years old while watching the sitcom Ellen. Ellen was my mom’s favorite show and I remember her becoming very angry when the show got cancelled. I recall my mom angrily stating “I don’t care if she’s gay, she’s funny and I want to laugh when I get home from work!” I don’t remember how I knew what gay meant at the time all I knew is that Ellen liked girls and therefore she couldn’t be on TV anymore. I still remember the episode in which Ellen came out. She was rushing to the airport before her soon to be love interest left on a plane, Ellen reached over to the PA system at the airport and proudly shouted “I’m gay” over the intercom, for some reason that always stuck with me. My next exposure to homosexuality was within my own family. My uncle came out when I was nine and I very vividly recall the moment my parents told my sister and I. My mom gathered us in the living room and sat us down on the couch, her and my dad sat on two chairs, directly facing us. Both of them had serious looks on their faces. At this point I was sure someone had died or at least was very sick. My mom continued to explain to us that my Uncle was gay. My parents asked us if we had any questions and neither of us did so my dad told us we could go back to playing. My uncle’s coming out didn’t change our family dynamic one bit, everything went on as normal. My parents never had anything bad to say about my uncle’s sexuality. They told my sister and I that he was the same uncle we had always had and that the only difference was that he may bring a boyfriend to family functions rather than a girlfriend. They told us not to be afraid to talk about him and that no matter what anyone said about him he was still a good person and being gay wouldn’t change that. I still find it shocking that I came from such an accepting family and yet I was so ashamed of my sexuality for so long.

I was about eleven years old when I became permanently confused about my sexuality. All the girls in my grade were getting “feelings” about the boys in our class. At recess they would write down who they wanted to marry and how many kids they wanted. “I’m definitely marrying Mark*, and we’ll have 3 beautiful children and we’ll live in the biggest house in town!” Laura* would say. Mark* was the hot commodity for most of the girls in my class. He had dark skin, green eyes and luscious pink lips, he drove all the girls crazy, except me. I played along with these recess games, but I had yet to feel anything about boys or girls for that matter. At twelve I was still more interested in winning the basketball game after school then who I wanted to date. By thirteen I still had yet to be interested in anyone, but I continued to gossip with my friends about the new boy in class because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. At this point I began to think there was something wrong with me, why wasn’t I interested in dating boys? Instead of wanting to date boys I wanted to avoid them. I began to feel uncomfortable around boys; I didn’t know how to communicate with them. Was I supposed to be flirtatious like my best friend Zoe* or was I supposed to fit in with them like my friend Morgan* who was the “tom boy” in my class? I didn’t know, all I knew was that I’d rather hang out with Jessie*. Jessie* was a new student and had these beautiful, glacial blue eyes and short golden blonde hair. She was tall and towered over me but she had the most gentle smile I had ever seen. Jessie* and I became fast friends and we spent much of our time together, until Jessica started dating Mark* and then our friendship became more of an acquaintance relationship.

Fast forward a year, to the week before my fourteenth birthday. For an early birthday gift my aunt sent me to camp with my younger cousin. That week at camp changed my life forever. I met a girl. She had sparkling blue eyes, and her dirty blonde hair was always pulled back in a pony. She dressed in baggy pants, and I distinctly remember she wore a mustard yellow sweater almost everyday we were there. She had a boisterous personality, she was loud, funny and wasn’t afraid to make a fool of herself. Most of all, she was confident and I loved that about her. In many ways she reminded me of myself and I gravitated towards her. Luckily for me we were in the same activity group and spent everyday attached at the hip. She was a long time camper at camp and was very popular amongst the campers and staff, in turn, I too became popular.

On the last day of camp my parents had to pick me up early because we had a wedding to attend. That morning I watched as she got ready for the day. I remember myself laid out on her bed with tears streaming down my cheeks. She insisted I not cry and that we would stay in contact, after all we only lived a half hour from each other. My heart dropped the moment my camp counselor came to the door and told me my parents were there to pick me up. I didn’t understand why I was so upset about leaving, I would see her again and I would be back at camp next year. My parents came and carried my luggage to the truck, she took my hand and laced her fingers with mine. That moment, that feeling, of her fingers intertwined with mine was the moment, the feeling, I knew. I knew that I had fallen for a girl. I had never felt more content in my life then during that walk along that path with our hands in embrace. She refused to let go of my hand even once I was in the vehicle. As my parents drove away she ran along side the truck and our hands were eventually torn apart by my dad’s lead foot. That night as I laid in bed crying I said to myself “I’m gay” and then buried it deep down inside me. I buried those feelings because other then my uncle no one else in my town was gay and I certainly wasn’t going to be the only one. Soon after my realization I decided I would change, I would no longer be gay. I didn’t want to be different, I didn’t ask to be different and I wasn’t strong enough to be different, or so I thought. I went back to school and continued on my escapades of “fitting in” and gossiping about boys. I eventually went to high school and by the time I graduated I had buried my feelings so well that I almost never thought about my sexuality. I had decided I could live my life as a single woman and never have to tell people about how I really felt. I was wrong.

By the time I had turned twenty-three the denial of my sexuality was no longer as easy as it was in high school. I began to have anxiety attacks regularly, my personality changed from being a happy, bubbly, talkative person to being a more tense, reclusive person. A friend set me up on a date; I sat nervously and anxiously through it all the while knowing that this poor guy had no chance. At the end of the night when he leaned in for a kiss I simply put out my hand and said, “Thanks for dinner.” I began to be resentful of The Universe for making me this way. I would cry myself to sleep pleading with whatever power existed to make me straight. I didn’t want to be gay and I didn’t want my family to have to deal with having a gay daughter, sister, niece or friend. I would occasionally come across a television show discussing “coming out’ as if it was something that would make everything in my life better. What a lie! How could coming out as a gay individual make my life better? How would going from a normal, white, heterosexual woman become better if I gave people a reason to discriminate against me; and it wasn’t just me who would face discrimination. My parents would undoubtedly face the dreaded “coffee row” in town and hear whispers about their gay daughter. How would my niece and nephew be treated if they had a gay aunt? Would they be taunted at school, would they be ashamed of me? Would they wish I was normal just like I wished I was?

* * *

After ten years of forcing myself to live an inauthentic life I had finally given up. I had decided I could at least date women and keep it a secret rather than denying myself love forever. I dated a couple people but it never felt right, sneaking around, lying about who I was hanging out with. None of the relationships were healthy and this created further shame about who I was. However, everything changed in May 2013 when I met my now girlfriend on an unsuspecting, sunny, Saturday afternoon in the parking lot of Pet Smart. She and I started to date in December of last year and through her unwavering support I began to accept my sexuality. She said to me one day, “You know babe, before I came out I used to wish I could change my sexuality, but the moment I came out I felt whole, I felt happy, I felt content and I knew that being gay was not something that took away from my life, it enhanced it.” I wanted to feel content, I wanted to feel happy, I wanted to be whole. We dated for nine months before I got up the courage to come out to my family and friends. During that nine months we had many ups and downs. I still often felt guilty and ashamed about my sexuality but on August 23, 2014, the eve of my 26th birthday, my best friend, my sister and my parents received letters from me informing them of my sexuality. In the letters, I confessed that I still sometimes wished I wasn’t gay and that I tried for along time to change who I was but I could no longer fight it. Within minutes of receiving the letters I got phone calls and texts from my loved ones saying, “We don’t want you to change, we love you exactly as you are and if you were any different you would not be the Lindsay we love.” I could not believe the outpouring of support, acceptance, and love I received from the most important people in my life. That was the moment I stopped wishing I wasn’t gay. It all ended there, all the doubt, the pleading, the shame, the denial. All of it gone, permanently.

If you asked me 5 months ago if I could change one thing about my life what would it be? I would have said my sexuality but today I no longer feel the need to change that part of me. If I could change anything about my life today it would be the memories of the shame I felt about being gay. Now I wish I had never felt those things, I wish I had never wished to change who I am. I wish I could have had the courage to come out sooner however, I know when and how I came out was the way it was meant to be. Today I have got all the things I wanted, I’m happy, I’m content and I am whole. As for those episodes I saw on TV suggesting coming out would help my life, they were right. Coming out has been the most important moment in my life to date. I hope that in the future I can help other LGBTQ youth realize they don’t need to change or deny their sexuality. I realize now that the change I had to make was a change in mentality from denying who I was to accepting who I am. I know that if I can change the perceptions of myself after years of self repression and denial then others can change their perceptions too.

I am a feminist. This is a label I proudly wear on a day to day basis. Although I haven’t always chose to define myself as such. For much of my life I was afraid to put that label on myself because I didn’t want to spend my life having to repeatedly defend and explain my position as a feminist. You see, many people, even today do not understand or rather care to understand what feminism is and why we still need feminism today. Much of the world has a very tainted view of what feminism is today based solely on what feminism was 70 years ago. Even 70 years ago feminism was not a bad thing. Feminism birthed from oppression, specifically white, women’s oppression but today it has morphed into a social concept that is much more than an exclusive category for certain women to be a part of and benefit from.

When I look back on my childhood now, I see that I may have always been a feminist. I was a very inquisitive child (and still am as an adult) I constantly questioned authority which was something I believe I learned from my parents. Both my mother and father encouraged me to be a part of their conversations they always told me that being able to ask questions and have an opinion was something that was to be valued. I remember my mother saying that I should never just listen to people I should always ask why. This of course, as you can imagine, caused some interesting parenting issues while I grew up as I would never just listen to anyone. However, I was not a delinquent I simply didn’t take everything an adult told me to heart.

I come from a long line of female family members, in fact, on my mothers side I only have one male cousin. All my other blood relatives on my mom’s side are female (except for my late grandfather). My great grandmother had three sisters, my grandmother had four sisters, my mom has two sisters, each of those sisters have two daughters and I myself have one sister. There’s a running joke that men cannot survive in our family because the female presence is so strong. My Grandmother was a farm wife, but she also had her own sign making business. My aunt has her masters in Nursing and my other aunt is an entrepreneur. My mother served on the town counsel for seven years, she is a first responder, manages the fire department, owns her own dog grooming business and is the first female Reeve of our RM. All of this information may seem boring or unnecessary but as you can see I came from a family where women were big contributors to the household and the community. Because of my strong matrilineal line, I never saw the female gender as a weak one, if anything, I always saw women as strong and powerful. It wasn’t until middle school that I began to see sexism blatantly in my life. Before grade six I don’t have any recollection of seeing or understanding sexism, that all changed when I started band.

I remember the day I started band class as one of the most exciting of my school years. Getting to take band class meant that you were half way to grade 12, it was a milestone. I was so excited to get a chance at playing the one instrument I always wanted to learn how to play, the drums. On my first day of band class we had to write down the three instruments we wanted to play in order of first, second, and third choice. I, of course, wrote drums first, then alto saxophone (because my mom had wanted me to choose it first, but remember I didn’t just listen to adults), then the flute third because it was the instrument my big sister played and although we fought like cats and dogs I always wanted to be like her. Ms. Len*, the band teacher, picked up all the slips of paper and announced to the class that we all would most likely get our first choice but there was a small chance you might get your second choice. I couldn’t wait for my next band class, I wanted so bad to stand up and bang on that snare drum. A few days later I arrived at band class and as I walked in I was handed an alto sax. I was so disappointed, but not only that I was angry too. I noticed that all the people who received drums were boys. I new for a fact that at least me and two other girls asked for drums as our first choice and none of us received a drum. I remember putting up my hand before the teacher had a chance to start the class and I asked, slightly upset, “Ms. Len*, why don’t any of the girls get to play the drums? That’s not really fair!” She replied, that not everyone gets their first choice and that, “The drums are for the boys.” I was livid. Out of the six boys in my class five of them played percussion instruments, the sixth boy wanted to play Tuba and he did. I went home that day and told my parents I was upset about what happened in band. Ms. Len* insisted it wasn’t a gender thing, there simply was enough percussion instruments in the band and we didn’t need anymore. I couldn’t believe that she said it wasn’t a gender issue when she blatantly said in class that the drums were for the boys. My dad told me there was nothing more we could do and I would just have to suck it up and play the saxophone. I remember feeling so defeated in that moment. I didn’t understand how someone could just make up a rule that certain things were for boys and certain things were for girls. It seems silly now that I once couldn’t wrap my head around such discrimination. Today I do understand it, I do see it everywhere, and I plan to spend my life trying to breakdown the walls that are built to marginalize all types of people. There was a similar situation in my grade nine English class when I questioned my male English teacher about why we had no literature from female authors in our curriculum. Although he disliked my open acquisition of his class material he said he would try to find female authors for next years class. I don’t know if he ever did add any female authors to the course, but I felt a small victory in the fact that he considered it.

Initially in school the discrimination I saw was mainly sexism, classism and some racism. Although the racism was probably much more prominent however, I myself was unaware of it because I am white. It wasn’t until I graduated and started to live, work and go to university on my own that I began to realize how grand social discrimination is.

In 2009 I began to work as a nanny. It truly was the greatest job I have ever had except for the constant bigotry displayed by one of the adult family members I worked for. Bill* often made racist, anti semitic and homophobic comments. Everyday he had a new terrible thing to say about a different race, class, sexuality, political party, religion, or gender etc. I recall very vividly the day he told me homosexuals were pedophiles. This put me in a very peculiar situation as I myself am gay (although he did not know this and today still does not). Ethically I felt very wrong working for someone who had these terrible views but ethically I could not leave their children to be raised in an environment where they were subject to these opinions. Instead, I began to teach the children about marginalized people and about privilege, about their privilege as light skinned Canadian people. I taught them that all people are different but at the same time we are all the similar because we are human. I discussed how we should respect all humans regardless of the clothes they where, the people they love, the money they have or the way they look. Believe it or not even though they were surrounded by negative ideas about people they took what I said and began to apply it to their little three year old lives. I would hear them at the play ground saying, people aren’t colours, they’re just people or you can love whoever you want as long as they are nice to you and you love them and they love you back. A few months ago when I told them I was dating someone the first question the kids asked me was “is it a boy or a girl?” at this time they had just turned seven and I knew in my heart what I had taught them had stuck.

Again all of this information may seem unimportant in relation to how I came to define myself as a feminist, however, it is all too important. Working with those children and seeing that the walls and barriers that are created in young minds to hate, dislike, and discriminate against certain people, can be deconstructed. People can unlearn stereotypes, they can unlearn hate, it is possible and I saw it with my own eyes. For five years I watched the cycle be broken and it gave me hope that if I/we can stand up and help people unlearn and be aware of marginalization and privilege that we/I can truly change the world. Now some people may want to challenge what I am saying here, maybe some would suggest that these things don’t go hand in hand with their definition of feminism but that doesn’t matter because these things go hand in hand with my definition of feminism.

The work I did with the children I cared for inspired me to put my thoughts onto digital paper. In 2010 I started a blog called This is where I began my journey of identifying as a feminist and activist. I strongly believe that a big part of being both a feminist and activist is talking about the things that make people uncomfortable, things like racism, classism, sexism, agesim, ableism etc. Through my blog I have been able to explore and discuss these concepts with all types of people all over the world and it has kept my fire to fight for the global equality of all people alive, even in the instances where I feel like giving up.

Many dictionaries loosely define feminism as the social and political advocacy of women’s rights in equality with men’s rights or as the social and political equality of the sexes. In some senses those definitions of feminism were correct in the early nineteenth century. However, as a Women and Gender Studies major I have come to learn that feminism in many ways is multi definitional. For me, feminism is defined as the act of deconstructing social discourse to find the root of marginalization. Once we can find out the root cause of the marginalization we can then move forward in stopping social inequality. For instance, some may argue that poverty is a big social issue, but I believe poverty doesn’t just exist in and of itself. Poverty is created through marginalization of people and nations, therefore we must first demolish marginalization do to race, class, sex, gender, etc before we can fix poverty. Feminism, for me is being aware of my privilege and my voice. I am aware that being in an institution like University, and being able to study Women and Gender studies is not simply my doing. My place in this institution is part of a long line of social privileges that I was born into and these privileges are simply false structures created by race and class divisions. Feminism, for me is fighting for the equality of all things on this planet. And it’s not just about people, I personally see the environment as a living being and it too deserves to be respected instead of constantly being raped of its resources, resources we all need to survive. Feminism, for me is knowing that what I learnt in my 13 years of primary and secondary schooling is not the whole truth. Feminism, for me is constantly unlearning and rebuilding my opinions not based on stereotypes and prejudices. I know there may be people in this very class, that disagree with my definition of feminism but I know that my feminism comes from a place of social acceptance not discrimination and that is what’s most important to me.

I am not a scientist, or a world renowned scholar but I do believe that to fix the inequality in the world to produce a society of freedom we cannot not simply to give people the things they need but rather we must know in our beings that it is a basic human right that all people regardless of race, class, gender, age, culture or nation deserve clean drinking water. All people deserve the opportunity to access adequate education. All people deserve to speak for themselves and not be grouped together into categories and then labeled as a problem. All people have a voice and all people deserve to be heard. Feminism for me is a vehicle to educate people on the concept that everyones voice is important, all seven billion of us.

Yup it’s another Vlog. As per usual I strayed from my main topic, but I still think it’s worth the watch!

This is the link to the Cheerios commercial that has people in a tizzy Check it out and let me know how you feel about it.

This is the link to my vlog where I discuss my feelings towards to commercial and all the hate it has received also let me know how you feel about it.

Peace and Love guys

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