The Princess Merida Protests: When Feminist Activism Neglects to Consider Anti-Racism Perspectives

So here I am, back after a two year hiatus with a blog post on Disney Princesses. This is perhaps a strange topic to re-engage a political scientist/lawyer, but there’s been a lot of brouhaha over the recent inclusion of Merida (from the movie Brave) into the princess line that has made me feel rather uncomfortable and disappointed.

To start, Disney has made heaps of money on films featuring princesses, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the company decided to create a merchandising campaign that featured all of these characters together. However, rather than focus on the traits that made these characters popular (such as Belle’s love of reading or Ariel’s curiosity), the line was centered on the idea of being a princess and achieving a happily ever after. The women of the line wear big, sparkling princess dresses and stand around passively smiling. They are not frequently shown as active individuals, but simply as examples of pretty women who have found their Prince Charmings. Obviously, such a construction of female role models can be subject to an absolute mountain of feminist critique.

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Ottawa Slut Walk 2011: Reclaiming Our Sexuality

TRIGGER WARNING: Discussions of Rape and Sexual Assault

On January 24th, 2011, the Toronto Police were giving a presentation on campus safety at York when one of the officers, Constable Michael Sanguinetti, claimed that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized”. Needless to say, many people were pissed. In my previous post, I spoke about Jane Doe’s rape and her case against the Toronto police, the events of which started in 1986. Part of the evidence that Jane Doe brought forward came from internal documentation showing that the police had been trying to address sexism within their ranks, particularly when dealing with sexual assault, since the 1970s. As we can see it is 2011 and the police are still operating on the idea that women are responsible, at least partially, for rape.

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A Practical Education on Rape

TRIGGER WARNING: Discussions of rape and sexual assault

Rape should not be something that young women learn about from experience. It should not be a practical part of education. Yet, with the high rates of sexual assault for women, how many people can say that they do not have experience with rape, either personally or through a close friend?

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Quick Hits: Where I’ve disappeared, Suggested Reading and Reteaching Gender and Sexuality

I. Where did I go and some suggested reading from other amazing people

    So, it’s been over a month since I posted. As it turns out, taking seven courses at a time is a BAD idea. Someone should tell this to the people who designed first year law school and require this rather nasty course load. In any case, my time at law school has been… interesting. I have a lot of thoughts to share about being a social justice activist in such a conservative institution and how law school is designed to be all but insurmountable to all but the most privileged, but this will all have to wait until I manage to get through exams and when my brain feels less like a melted pile of goo.

    Until then, I have been collecting some really great articles and posts online that have helped me recover from law zombism, and that I wanted to share. There is a new page alongside my Blogroll and Profile that I will update whenever I have a new batch of thought-provoking writing from others that I think everyone needs to read. I hope everyone enjoys and finds some great new writers to frequent!

    II. Put This on the Map: Reteaching Gender and Sexuality

      http://www.putthisonthemap.org/

      This is a brilliant, amazing, fantastic group that everyone should love and watch. All though I have appreciated the “It gets better” videos that have been made, I also think that this video really sums up where we as a society should be going. It demands action, rather than passivity, and will stand silent in the face of ignorance, bigotry and hate. I am looking forward to seeing their documentary and any other work that they produce.

      Finding Pants and “Normal” Bodies

      On the weekend I went shopping for some new work clothes. The goal of this trip was to find pants. I loathe finding pants. My hips and waist don’t conform to the fashion industry’s ideal of what women should be shaped like so finding business clothing that actually fits is next to impossible. That is until these new “comfort” fit pants appeared on the market during the past couple years. Some very brilliant designer decided to create stylish pants and skirts that were stretchy and did not feature button arrangements that resembled torture devices.

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      Quick Hits: Mother’s Day Musings, Toronto Pride Defunding and The Girl Effect

      I. Changes and Goals

      I am a content consumer. Possibly to the excess. Being a producer is rather hard for me, but it’s been a consistent goal of mine over the past while to alter this behaviour. I tend to write long, critical essays, but I think I need to start mixing it up if I ever hope to update more than every several months. Consequently, this post starts a series of “Quick Hits” which will feature news articles and short musings on whatever I happen to think needs attention in a given week. Hopefully this new format will help me achieve my goal of weekly updates.

      See below the cut for information and thoughts on Mother’s Day for non-traditional families, the recent defunding of Toronto Pride by the Conservative government, and a link to The Girl Effect, an amazing organisation dedicated to changing the world!

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      Ontario and the War over Comprehensive Sex Education

      Sexual education is one of my personal crusades. The debates over American abstinence-only education during the Bush era drew me in and reflections on my own lack of sex ed opened my eyes to see how disastrously and ineptly handled the topic is in Canada. My ideals surrounding sexual education are tied up with my beliefs concerning issues such as feminism, human rights and diverse sexualities. Hence why when Ontario announced that it had revamped its sexual education curriculum for public schools and the changes were good, I wanted to weep for joy! A Canadian government doing something progressive and concrete? Such incidents have been in a sorry lack of supply in my country lately.

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